One can compare art education to the solid foundation for a house – once it’s properly built, it will hold any shape or form you will place in it.

-Igor Babailov


Passivity is a creativity cruncher. Having good ideas and then taking ownership of them, requires hard, hard work. It is important to be fully engaged in what you are doing if you want to bring your original concept into a creation that ultimately feels satisfying to you. It is important also, to have the grit to bring your ideas to completion, that is, it is essential to be a finisher.

Not all the stages of the process of creativity are active. There are times when it is necessary to take a break from what might have become frantic stages in the building of a project. There are times to take stock and simply think – and that requires energy, too.

“No book will jump off a shelf and request your attention. No idea mounted on a white stead will leap through a window and exclaim, “Take me! I’m yours!” (HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HUNCH? The Importance of Creative Thinking). Shannon Pogoda, a builder and an educator, doesn’t wait for books to leap off shelves. She finds them and then, expending much energy, reads, researches, plans and actually builds solid foundations for the students she teaches and for her straw bale house marvelously completed – but always, with many complementary ideas still under construction. I interviewed Shannon recently about her straw bale house and also about her thoughts on being an educator:

 Ellen: It is my pleasure to interview you, Shannon about two seemingly disparate aspects of yourself – Shannon the Builder and Shannon the Educator. Both in fact, require the establishment of firm foundations – sturdy enough to allow for further development. Both require your creative thinking. So I will start first with the building of your straw bale house. You imagined the straw bale house and then both your husband Rob and you brought it into being. It couldn’t have been easy to build your own house. Was this something you had always wanted to undertake?

Shannon: Ellen thank you so much for inviting me to answer questions regarding building, teaching and creativity. I always knew I’d build my own house at some point. My parents built two main houses when I was growing up, and my brother also built his houses. My parent however, hired builders, whereas my brother did a lot of work himself and hired sub-contractors like electricians and plumbers. Rob and I hired no one.