Wednesday, April 9, 2014

aMAZING creativity


Members of the Richardson family in front of their observation tower (
In today's world farming has become a very difficult business to survive in.  Many longtime farms have gone out of business due to price changes, mass processing, and various other reasons.  This leaves a huge problem for families like the Richardson family, whose entire lives have been devoted to maintaining and working on their farm for multiple generations.  In 1982 the family thought the farm was close to closing, their way of life suddenly would be turned upside down.  Rather than sell their land like many other farms around the area had already done, the family decided to get CREATIVE.

A child zip-lining toward the Christmas
 trees that are growing at Richardson Farm
In 1982, unwilling to give up like so many other creatives and knowing something had to change, the Richardson family started a "cut-your-own Christmas tree business" that allowed their farm to stay alive and increase their business (Starks, 2001).  This new business idea for the farm was just the beginning of what would become a very successful and profitable "new" Richardson farm.
An example of how the designing and "sculpting"
of a corn maze may go. (

After the cut-your-own Christmas tree business the Richardson's remained stable for a long period of time.  However, they knew that more could be done with the farm to not only make it a more profitable place, but a more enjoyable place for everybody.  So in 1998, when Robert Richardson attended a seminar that promoted a "40-acre corn maze near Janesville as a symbol of Wisconsin's most profitable crop", he knew exactly what needed to be done on their own farm (Starks, 2001).  It seems to be a quick moment of insight by the collective group of family owner's that a maze in the farm would be a perfect idea.  Like we have discussed, many times when a creative gets a great idea, they just seem to know it will work, and put a great deal of their time and energy into making that idea into a reality.  This is exactly what the Richardson family decided to do.  They quickly hired a designer, Shawn Stolworthy, who helped them plot designs using a laptop and a global satellite positioning system (Starks, 2001).  They then spent a large amount of time spray painting the short immature corn to mark the design, and then cut into it with rototillers forming the first trails of what would be the World's Largest Corn Maze.

From here the family never looked back.  Their creativity blossomed and followed similar features of many other creatives.  They took one idea (Christmas Trees) and diverged out into a whole entire system of fun activities for all ages and all seasons (corn maze, zip-line, picnic areas, pumpkin smashing, etc).  They also had clear motivations, some intrinsic and some extrinsic.  Extrinsically, they claim to have loved seeing the happy faces of those who came out for Christmas trees so much that they wanted to keep making them happy throughout the entire year, and of course, they make a much larger profit with these new activities.  Intrinsically, the entire family enjoys working on the farm, growing the crops and trees, making the mazes each year, and setting up any other great activities that they have planned.  Being a large family also allowed for collaboration.  Each family member could bounce ideas off the other and they could try to find the best idea or solution for any of their problems or hopes.  And, as said above, they hired helpers for designing the mazes that they customize each and every year.
An overhead view of this past years Beatles 50th anniversary
 maze (

As creative as the Richardson family is, in my few visits to the "World's Largest Corn Maze", what I have found most creative are the actual designs of the mazes.  This past year they made an incredible maze of The Beatles in honor of their first U.S. appearance.  This design, and countless others, represent not only the creativity that goes into designing a maze, but the greatness of the creativity of the Richardson family, who have used their creativeness to not only save their farm, but create a great place for everybody to enjoy and admire the creative process... and have great corn on the cob of course.


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