Fred Showker's 60 Second Windows... since 1990

December 6th, 2001

#138 An open letter to all creative people...

Make a list, check it twice

This is a letter to all the creative people reading 60-Second Windows this month. Soon it will be 2002, and another year has passed. Last year I quoted the famous words of Benjamin Franklin, who made it his waking routine to ask: "What good can I do today?" This December 6th, 2001 I ask you: "What good did you do this year?"

As proof of the creative spirit, I'm thrilled to be following the efforts of creative people like Julian LaVerdiere and Paul Myoda, and two architects, John Bennett and Gustavo Bonevardi, who have come together to propose "Towers of Light" as a profound and simple symbol of unity and strength in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York City.
(* Notes and links below!)

Proof that light and awakening can come out of misery and devastation.

I urge you to make an appointment on your calendar. It can be any day, any time, any place. But make an appointment with yourself.

Set aside some time -- a quiet time -- to ask yourself some questions, and make a list of the answers to those questions.

As a creative person, you have a unique gift. At times it seems that everyone has the same gifts, and therefore you don't think much about it. You may even let it diminish in your day to day pursuit of obligations and responsibilities. Yet, it's there, it's special -- and you can do something profound with it.

Yes, this is the time of year for giving. But in January and February, and on throughout 2002, let's let this feeling of giving live on, and accomplish something real.

When you have your appointment, ask yourself how you can apply your skills and visions to do some good in your community; to help others less fortunate. No, it doesn't have to be a grandiose plan of a monumental light sculpture in New York city. You can make monumental strides in your own community.

Make a list, and follow through.

  1. Contact local nonprofit community organizations
  2. Get names and numbers for contacts in your community where you can find out what you can do, how you can contribute your special talents, skills and visions to benefit the community.
  3. Contact those people
  4. Make careful notes about what the person says, or who they refer you to.
  5. Set up a schedule to act on at least one of those special needs

Hello, __ name of person __, I'm a local ___ profession or creative pursuit ___ and would like to know if there's anything I can do to help your organization fulfill its mission. Can you name a simple project I can apply my creative skills to, or refer me to someone who can.
This whole process can take less than an hour. Now, surely you have an hour to give.

The project you agree to do could only take a few hours. Now, surely you have a few hours, or can find them, or can make them.

Imagine how uplifting it will be to the community of New York, when and if such a project comes to fruition.

So sit down there, and ask yourself:
"What good can I do this year?"

Then DO IT.

Fred Showker

* Creative Time is a New York-based nonprofit organization who have commissioned and presented adventurous public arts projects of all disciplines. From the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage, Grand Central Terminal, and Times Square to milk cartons, the Internet, and billboards, Creative Time has supported artists in invigorating our urban landscape.
Follow along as the fabulous towers of light project unfolds.

Fred Showker is a designer, consultant, writer and speaker. He has published 60-Second Window and DT&G Magazine online since 1990, and is director of The Graphic Design Network which includes The Design & Publishing Center at (1994) He was a co-founder of both The User Group Forum on America Online (1987), The User Group Network at, (1994) and the Designers' Bookshelf (1996) He originally founded Showker Graphic Arts & Design in 1972, has been an avid computer activist and supporter since 1984.