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Issue of October 15, 2014
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Technology allows more freedom

Community conversations

June 18, 2014 | 02:56 PM

I recently had an eye-opening experience. I went to an open house that served as a fundraiser for VSA Indiana. VSA used to be called Very Special Arts and was primarily a program to use art as a therapy for folks with disabilities.

Federal funds have been reduced in the past several years, and all human service providers that depend on public funds are struggling. VSA Indiana is no exception. Classrooms that once were filled with lively activity using clay, paint and music now are quiet and sparse. To solve financial woes, we all must look to innovative thinking and fundraising from private individuals.

The fundraiser we attended was in a gated and upscale neighborhood. It is the home of an artist who hosted an exclusive showing of her work to benefit VSA Indiana.

I usually think of artists' studios as being covered with all sorts of materials that are in the process of being used, discarded or stored for future prospective work. I rather like this jumble and use it as a sign that my abundant assortment of "stuff" might someday make me more creative.

This home on the art tour was an eye opener. It was filled with all kinds of art. That was not a surprise and met every expectation I could have dreamed up. There were glass sculptures, paintings, abstract pictures of multiple materials and traditional still lifes. It would have taken me several hours to soak it all in but that was not the big surprise of the artist's home.

The studio was beautiful, well organized, full of paintings in various stages of completion and loaded with high-tech equipment. Here is a description of how the artist works: She has a treadmill placed facing an adjustable desk top. On the desk are three monitors; one for TV and two for computer use. She plays music on her computer, walks on the treadmill (eight miles a day) and lets the music flow through her and onto the canvas as she paints. Her work is stimulating, beautiful, understandable and salable. She is rich, healthy and creatively fulfilled. Her technique is uniquely hers, but it shows there is more than one way to do anything we want to do.

In the room next to her studio is her husband's office. It has a treadmill, a movable desktop, three monitors, a microphone and two guitars. He manages a business from this office and from their home in Florida. His clients never know where he is and don't even care. When he gets tired walking on the treadmill or thinking, he plays his guitar and records with the "studio that is housed within his computer." And there isn't one piece of paper in the room.

I went home to my office, which is a series of stacks of paper. I do pride myself in knowing, usually, where things might be found if needed. Since I never know what I might want to read in the future, I keep all kinds of clippings and correspondence. I recalled the man's office with no paper stacks and the orderly files he showed me on his computer. I have a lot to learn about the benefits of technology in the workplace and in everyday household activities. How many hours do I waste because I lack the use of these tools? Because of age, my husband and I are neophytes in the world of high tech that even a 5-year-old can navigate. Intimidated by all the passwords and equipment, we lumber on in our out-of-date practices.

Today, I am sitting at our Harrison County farm watching a storm play hide and seek with the sun and clouds. It is a wonderful setting and one in which I can think more productively than I can in a windowless office in the city. My mind drifts back to the statement that the man with the streamlined office made: "I can work anywhere in the world and do the same business I am now doing." No longer tied to a specific location for many of the jobs available today, some people have the option to live wherever they choose.

Whenever guests visit us in Harrison County, they remark that they don't know how we leave it to go back and forth to Indianapolis, as I have done for 44 years. Entrepreneurs, retirees, consultants and independent business persons would love to live in a place like Harrison County. We need to market ourselves this way, but who would listen when we lack such things as high-speed Internet, active visionaries and a supportive community?

I visited the town square in Corydon yesterday and saw again the empty buildings in that wonderful setting. We can do better! The beauty of Corydon and its residents could be a magnet to attract creative and innovative new residents. What are we going to do about it?

Barbara Shaw
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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 • 1-812-738-2211 • email