Geniuses We Know & Love

I love, love, love the day we get to hear who got Genius Grants from the MacArthur Foundation.

I love this day not because I fantacize about getting one of those calls (not going to happen) but because I like to fantacize about who would get a $500,000 grant if I worked for MacArthur.  Who are the geniuses I know who could do exceptionally creative things with a half a million dollars?

I’m not talking about smart people who need $500,000 to pay back their student loans or buy a first house.  There are plenty of those.  I’m talking about visionaries who have broad and specific ideas about understanding the world through technology, history, medicine, religious studies, anthropology, literature, music, math, and film.

But seriously, if you were on the selection committee for MacArthur, who would be on your list of grant recipients?  It’s a real question. 

Here are my top candidates and I’m not kidding:

Deb Roepke founded Computer CORE in Alexandria, VA which has taught over 2000 low income adults computer skills while also making it possible for their children to have a computer in the home for their own studies.  She’s now doing other things, but her mind is a fountain of peacemaking, life-changing ideas.

Shawna Bowman is an artist, pastor, and creative genius who models the future of the institutional church.  She is quietly brilliant and could continue to do even more beautiful, extraordinary things with a chunk of grant money.

Kimberly Pendleton Bolles is a Christian, feminist, international development, fashion rock star who has a beautiful brain and a beautiful style.  Remember this name.

TBC is a person very close to me and I hesitate to include her in this list (unalterated nepotism), but she is my ideal of passion, justice-seeking, visionary amazingness.  This week the schools in Charlottesville, VA are using lesson plans that she wrote about school gardens.  She is ridiculously gifted in emotional intelligence, wisdom, global vision, domestic organization.  I would also tell you to remember her name, but she’d be embarrassed.  The girl is going to alter how schools are designed and how cities are focused.  MacArthur might not notice her for another 10 years because she’s only 20.

So, I’d like to know about the ordinary geniuses in your life.  Who should get a MacArthur next year and why?

Image by Uta Barth, one of the 2012 MacArthur Grant winners.

3 responses to “Geniuses We Know & Love

  1. As is often the case with your blog, I keep turning over the ideas in my head and wondering what exactly I’m supposed to do now that I’ve been exposed to this line of thinking. I am fortunate enough to work with one of the people you list and I whole-heartedly agree with everything you say about her.

    Most likely I will never be in the position of granting $500k to anyone but it sure is great to dream about that! But that doesn’t mean I can’t also contribute to the geniuses in my midst.

    So I’m thinking about how to encourage, enable and affirm those who are changing the world. It seems like I spend quite a bit of energy on managing the negative folks around me. I think I’m going to try giving those people less energy and spend more energy on those are bringing the kingdom to earth. So if I can’t give them money, can I give them time by freeing them up from administrative details? Can I listen to their ideas and support their dreams? Can I be their cheerleader and their PR assistant? I love when I get to see genius in action and I long to be a part of it in any way possible.


  2. Pingback: Grants? Genius! | NEXT Church

  3. Pingback: Grants? Genius! - NEXT

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