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[VIDEO] Creativity and Bay Area Innovation, Part I: The Feng Shui Factor

The Bay Area is hands down the single most creative and innovative region in the United States, receiving a whopping 32 percent of all the venture capital invested in the United States.

Introduction to the “Creativity and Bay Area Innovation” series

The Bay Area is hands down the single most creative and innovative region in the United States.

Home to such major players as Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Oracle, and numerous others, the Bay Area receives a whopping 32 percent of all the venture capital invested in the United States, according to the Bay Area Regional Center. It also has the second highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies next to New York.

All the money aside, the Bay Area has either begun or fostered the growth of such influential cultural movements as The Counter Culture Movement, Free Speech, Gay Rights, California Cuisine and the Local Foods Movement, the Internet, municipal recycling programs, Beat poetry and literature, psychedelic experimentation, and music festivals, such as Burning Man.

In this series, I will explore various ways of understanding the proliferation of creativity and innovation of the Bay Area, including Feng Shui, geology, culture, urban design, and history, hoping to shed a bit of light on a place I love so very much, hoping to honor some of the ways it has shaped my own creativity throughout my adult life.

The Bay and feng shui

That curious feeling [of being in the Bay Area] is the felt sense of being right smack in the middle of the unending courtship between a beautiful, emotive, life-giving woman and a powerful, steadfast, purposeful man…

Today, I would like to focus on the curious feeling one has when they find themselves in the heart of the Bay Area, mainly around the Golden Gate, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland, a feeling that lessens noticeably the further one strays from the Golden Gate itself. This feeling is difficult to describe in the Western, reason-based approach to language and cosmology.

But fortunately for Bay Area inhabitants, who are also inhabitants of the Pacific Rim and thus at the far eastern edge of Eastern culture, we can draw upon those cultures, too, specifically the Chinese system of feng shui.

What is feng shui?

Like the moon reflecting the sun’s brilliance in the dead of night, when it comes to feng shui, we often can’t see the source of energy directly but can see its effects on other objects.

Feng shui (pronounced fung schway) translates as “wind-water”, which is an apt description of the way many Asian cultures understand the world. In the same way that we can’t see the wind but we can see its effects as it blows over the surface of a body of water, Feng Shui describes the play of energies, sometimes visible, sometimes not, on our experience of the world around us. Like the moon reflecting the sun’s brilliance in the dead of night, when it comes to feng shui, we often can’t see the source of energy directly but we can see its effects on other objects.

Contrary to popular thought, there is no such thing as good or bad feng shui in an absolute sense. Good and bad come only into play when humans try to undertake an activity that is 1) favored by the energetic conditions in the area or 2) run counter to them. For example, if you want to set up a tranquil retreat center, it probably isn’t the best idea to set it up next to a turbulent river that is prone to flooding.

Why is the Bay Area’s feng shui so unique?

…the yin of the ocean (feminine energy) is allowed to swirl and play with the yang of the hot dry land (masculine energy) producing the “energy” that fuels creativity and innovation in the region…

According to Ming Lui, a long time feng shui practitioner, (who sadly passed away in the spring of 2015) the Bay Area has particularly unusual Feng Shui. The cold, low, shape-shifting Pacific Ocean to the west is polarized against the hot, dry, highly cultivated land of the Central Valley east of the Bay Area. Between these two very different air masses, a dynamic tension is set up, one that is mitigated by the East Bay Hills from being a total wind tunnel, but also allowed to mix between the hallowed opening of the Golden Gate.

In other words, the yin of the ocean (feminine energy) is allowed to swirl and play with the yang of the hot dry land (masculine energy) producing the “energy” that fuels creativity and innovation in the region. Moving about in the area, one notices that the air itself has a very different quality. It is marine air inundating the land, producing the warmer temperature in the winter, the colder temperatures in the summer, the signature fog, and, at night, what a friend of mine used to call “the infinity haze,” a shimmering aura visible around street lights.

That curious feeling, then, is the felt sense of being right smack in the middle of the unending courtship between a beautiful, emotive, life giving woman and a powerful, steadfast, purposeful man. And believe me folks, when it comes to creativity and innovation, that’s a wild, wonderful, and extremely fortuitous place to be!

What type of creator are YOU? Take the Creativity Quiz and find out!

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