Navigating CPSI; Happy Tomatoes, Fried Bake and Plaintain.

Navigating CPSI; Happy Tomatoes, Fried Bake and Plaintain.

I’M PLAYING A GAME – The World Robot Olympiad Version of the Community Lemonade Game. I’ve created myself a challenge to build community around the Southern California Qualifier of the World Robot Olympiad, that will be held by the Robotics Society of Southern California (RSSC). So the Gauntlet… the challenge… is to successfully execute the competition on August 11th, 2018. In my quest for community around the World Robot Olympiad, I have a number of goals: space, equipment, coaches, skills, materials, players.

Will you make Lemonade with me?

It's so delicious!
Will you make Lemonade with me?

It’s the last day of the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI), a week-long, annual program at University at Buffalo, NY.  I am waiting for a late flight.  I’ve been gathering skills for Facilitating Creative Problem Solving.  Refreshing on Tools and Techniques that I will share with others as we explore situations involving sustainable agriculture, nutrition, food security and world hunger.  These are all part of Goal 2 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  It’s the Open Competition of the World Robot Olympiad.

But today I would like to share with you my take on the logistics of participating in CPSI. 

This post may seem mundane to some, but what I share will smooth the wrinkles in the blankets of your CPSI travel.

The call for Presenters begins in November and continues for some months.  First time presenters usually might do a 1 1/2 hour session.  Topics will focus around creative and problem solving methodologies, new tools and presenter experiences.

Registration begins sometime in January and continues until June.  You can stay, very conveniently and inexpensively, at the University of Buffalo campus dorms.  Based upon recommendations and my previous stays, I booked at Greiner Hall.  It’s a modern dorm building, with a 2-to-a-room, 2 rooms to a suite layout.  You can ask to be single, but having a roomie is part of the college experience, isn’t it?  There is a substantial International presence.  There is air conditioning.

Plan to arrive in Buffalo on Tuesday.  To get to the University you can take public transportation, using the bus that takes you from the airport to the South Campus, and transferring to another bus that will take you to the North Campus.  It takes a couple of hours, but is very reasonable.  If you have less time and a travel budget, you may choose to take a taxi (about $35. plus tip) or call for an Uber ride (about $20. plus tip).  My stopover flight in Chicago was delayed, and in my wandering around O’Hare airport, I found the ‘Flat Butch O’Hare Game’ which I played a bit.  It may lead to nothing, it may lead to some unknown future connection.  If that happens, I will look back at the delay and the playing of that game and attribute it to Karma.  Everything you do, everything that happens to you, however small it may seem at the time, has the potential to be of significance in your life.  It is only after that you – that I – will look back at that time and realize its significance.

Aside: My taxi driver was a believer in Karma.  He was late getting to the taxi line.  My flight was delayed 3 hours.  At 7:00 PM I wasn’t about to take a 2 hour bus ride that I would normally enjoy doing – exploring public transportation options.  It was Karma that led to my delays, to his being there when I was seeking a ride and to my sitting in his car.  The driver, spoke of when his mother died while he was quite young.  He spoke of his anger at the fact that everyone else had a mother and he didn’t.  He spoke of the fact that everyone else had… they were quite poor… and he didn’t.  For a year he took a negative and violent path.  Then,  in a dream his mother appeared and asked him to better himself, and overnight, he did.  Now he helps those in Pakistan (his birth country) who are without one parent or the other, pay their way through college.  It is his way of giving back, and of helping those who are in the situation he once was.  It was his wedding anniversary, and he would drop me off at Greiner Hall, very close to his home, then just call it a day.  He called it Karma.  I thought it might be so.


Your dining hall pass is valid from Tuesday night, but dining closes at 7:00 PM so arrive a little earlier.  The keynote begins at 7:30.  I missed the keynote this year, a result of my Chicago delays.  The speaker was Jane O’Meara Sanders, Founder and Fellow of the Sanders Institute (also wife of Senator Bernie Sanders).  Her keynote was titled “Approaching Problems with Applied Imagination“.  The mission of the Sanders Institute “to explore bold new solutions to the most important issue affecting our society“, “approaching problems with applied imagination” and “helping people to imagine and create what is possible – rather than what is”.  I’ll go for that.

Aside: All over, at CPSI, there were full-sized, hand-made mannequins of humans.  Some were filled with lights, some with brightly colored papers, some with what looked like ‘guts’.  Very entertaining, and I think that my haunting friends will probably know of this technique that would be wonderful for a haunted house.  I will share with my Friends at the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor… (a haunt I try not to miss).  I’m sure there’s nothing I could tell them that they don’t already know.  I’ve always wanted to make a haunted house.  That, and a Maize Maze.

Wednesday is planned for all-day programs.  It gives the presenter a chance to share a specific perspective, technique, a new tool or Creative Problem Solving refresher.  There were twelve of these.  I attended the presentation of IBM Data Geek Michael Ackerbauer – “Crossing the Streams: Introducing Creative Problem Solving to Agile and Design Thinking.    Michael spoke of the relationship of Agile and Design Thinking, and their place in the Creative Problem Solving  road map.  If you’ve been exposed to all of these, you will have recognized that the Agile methodology follows a path defined by Creative Problem Solving, and applies it to software development.  Iterative development, identifying what can be done, prioritizing the next thing to be done and undertaking little bites of work at a time.  Someday I’ll share with you about iterativeness.

Some other topics were about Immunity to Change, Solving Future Problems, Fusing Creativity into Education, Overcoming Cognitive Biases to Ignite Creative Thinking, Using the Force for Good.  The folks who attend CPSI are educators and CEOs, Innovation Team members, Market Researchers, the curious and those seeking new paths.  The collective Innovation Quotient, Change maker Quotient and Do-gooder Quotient seems to be higher at CPSI than in the home town.  At this conference, if you tell others that you are trying to save the world, you’ll get a ‘me too’ response.  There is an understanding that we must try else it will not happen.  That we may encounter setbacks (some might say failures), but that setbacks are steps (learning opportunities) on the path to success.

Then there is a 3 day intensive.  Depending upon whether it is your first, second, third or fourth year, you take one or the other learning path.  Springboard to CPS.  Tools and Techniques. Facilitating CPS. Training CPS.  It’s not something you can learn in a classroom and be magically good at doing.  It’s a mindset, and it is one that is a little counter to how we are usually taught to think.  We learn about the mindset, then we are sent off to find ways in which to include it in our lives.  I’ll share more on that another day.

At night, there are ‘Night Flights’.  These are add-on sessions that you can choose to present even after the conference/training has begun.  They typically run from 7:30 to 9:30 PM.  It’s a useful tool for those who have jet-lag or who want to keep learning.

There is a parallel conference in which the children of CPSI participants enroll.  This is a very special part of CPSI.  These children are learning a life skill and it will impact them in ways they might never realize.  I think I would like to see how this runs, but it is not yet that time.  Some future year, perhaps, even though I am seeking to myself do this very thing.

On Saturday Night, after the core training sessions are done, you are encouraged to participate in Sofi, a ritual of CPSI.  It is a closing point.   With the ritual dance of Sofi, two concentric circles with equal numbers of persons are formed.  Those in the inner circle face those in the outer and both perform hand gestures and say the words of a prayer while looking directly into the eyes of the person opposite.  The outer circle rotates one person to the right and everyone repeats the ritual until everyone in the inner circle has participated with everyone in the outer.  For those not accustomed to direct, eye-to-eye or physical contact, there may be some discomfort.  Not everyone participates, as it is performed late at night.  There is something to be said for a night-time ritual.

On Sunday, everyone says their goodbyes, packs their bags and heads off by car, shuttle or taxi.  We’re all off to the ‘real world’, re-energized in our Creativity Quotient.

That’s it!

I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU – Happy Tomatoes, Fried Bake and Plantain.

I’m going backwards a bit, to Father’s day.  You may know I’m from the Caribbean Island of Trinidad.  I will share more about Trinidad another day.  Sometimes, I attempt to cook ‘Trini’ food.

Above is a photo of our Father’s Day meal, which is reminiscent of meals I had as a child.  We had Fried Bake, Happy Tomatoes and Fried Plantain.  Somehow the humor of the bread’s name, ‘fried bake’ had escaped me all these years.  Why is it called bake if it is just fried?  We laughed.  After I have tweeted a photo of my Happy Tomato plant, which yielded these three wonderfully sweet, sun-ripened tomatoes, I will have seven Tweets to my Squigglemom name. Find me on Twitter: @squigglemom.  I have also now established a Pinterest Squigglemom account.  Whoo hoo! Now WHO’s getting all social media!

You can see my tweet below… 8)

Trish Tsoiasue is a community builder based in Long Beach, California . She builds socially responsible, grassroots communities, has many hobbies and interests, and lots and lots of ideas. She is trained in LEGO(r) Serious Play and the Creative Problem Solving Institute‘s methods of intentional creativity. The communities she has created and in which she takes most pride are the Long Beach LEGO User Group, Makersville and ScoutMaker (a prototype community started at Title I, Lincoln Elementary School through a grant from Honda Research and Development arranged by the Long Beach BSA ).

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