Lecture, activities explore being ‘Here and Now in a Nonstop World’

Scott Belsky, CEO of a company providing products and services to creative industries, discusses the importance of reflective thought amidst the information onslaught in a lecture at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the Bates College Chapel, 275 College St.

The public is invited to attend the 2011 Bertha May Bell Andrews Lecture at no cost. Part of an innovative series of activities at the college exploring ways to dial down the digital barrage and reconnect with the capacity for contemplation, the event is presented by the Multifaith Chaplaincy.

It is co-sponsored by Bates Information and Library Services, the Harward Center for Community Partnerships, the Learning Commons, the Communications Office, the Career Development Center and the Office of the President. For more information, please contact 207-786-8272.

Belsky’s talk, Present Tense: Being Here and Now in a Non-Stop World, will explore the disappearing opportunities for reflection and contemplation, which he refers to as “sacred space.” Such deep thought is often challenged by technology-induced opportunities and demands, leading to reactive and dependent behavior from both individuals and institutions.

“Despite the incredible power and potential of sacred spaces, they are quickly becoming extinct,” Belsky notes on the website, the99percent.com. “We are depriving ourselves of every opportunity for disconnection. And our imaginations suffer the consequences.”

Belsky believes that people and organizations succeed by making opportunities for creative, concentrated attention. During his Bates residency, he will help the college reaffirm its commitment to deep thinking and understand how “reactionary workflow” works against such commitments. He’ll also offer guidance in approaching technology deliberately and productively, and in working more creatively overall.

Belsky’s visit is the centerpiece of a bold initiative that the Multifaith Chaplaincy describes as a “Bates community experiment.”

“The idea is not that these technologies are bad, but simply that we need to be more mindful about how we relate to them,” says Emily Wright-Magoon, associate multifaith chaplain.

The day after the lecture, in an experience called UnDay: A Day to Unplug and Unwind, students, staff and faculty will pledge to experiment with refraining from the technology of their choice for one full day.

The following day, a campus conversation will be held to assess how it went and what came up. Additionally, throughout the week there will be opportunities for meditation, yoga, massage, mindful eating and discussion.

Belsky has spent his professional life in technology, social media and the creative industry. He is the author of the best-selling book Making Ideas Happen (Portfolio, 2010), and is the founder and CEO of Behance, a company that develops products and services for the creative industries. In 2010, he was included in Fast Company’s list of “100 Most Creative People in Business.”

Belsky is a frequent contributor on MSNBC, and has worked with such leading organizations as General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and Proctor & Gamble, as well as with the U.S. State Department and the CIA.

He attended Cornell University as an undergraduate and received his master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School.

The Andrews Lecture, a signature talk at Bates since 1975, is a memorial to Bertha May Bell Andrews, who served on the Bates faculty from 1913 to 1917 and established the women’s physical education program at the college. Her son, Dr. Carl B. Andrews of the Bates class of 1940, established the lectureship.