Creative Cooperation

Creating for change together in creative cooperation with others—who often bring quite very different strengths and weaknesses to the culture change equation—is the key to creating something of lasting impact. Learn from case studies as varied as The Clapham Sect, Wedgwood Circle, and Commonwealth Tampa Bay how people with different Creative Types and different giftings are working in creative cooperation.

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Creating for change together in creative cooperation with other people of varying Creative Types (learn how to find your Creative Type now) is key for creating lasting change. Whether it’s forming a formal Creative Community or simply creating in community as an organic part of creative life, we are better together.

“Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea.” – Ed Catmull, Pixar Co-Founder

Case Study: Hannah More & William Wilberforce

Hannah fumed. It was infuriating to hear women described that way. Insulting, really. Especially from someone as influential as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose misogynistic doctrine of “sensibility” regarded women as “frivolous creatures of mere emotion and sentiment,” as if she could be lumped in with all the fashion-forward London women who cared more about besting each other at every social event with ever larger and more outrageous hats than they did about the injustices happening right underneath their powdered noses. Well, she had more than fancy ribbons and feathers in her hat; her nimble, creative mind was already crafting a plan to rid their country of an abominable practice that had been the scourge of moral society and contrary to Scripture for years. It would take her, and her close circle of friends, more than forty-five years of creating for change, but it would be worth it for this one thing: the abolition of the British slave trade.

Hannah More, born in 1745 and living until age 88 in 1833, was an impressive woman. Known colloquially as a bluestocking—an educated, intellectual woman in 18th-century England who has shown interest and aptitude for literary and intellectual pursuits—she was a prolific author and playwright “whose works at the time outsold Jane Austen ten to one,” [1] and was a formidable cultural change agent described by historians as “nothing less than the most influential woman of her time.”[2] Though Hannah achieved no small measure of fame, wealth, and high regard among London society, she stewarded her gifts as a means of shaping the culture around her. “She did not wish to retreat from culture into a religious sphere, but rather to advance with the wisdom and truth of religion into the cultural sphere.”[3] As she once wrote, “One must not merely rail against the darkness, but must instead light a proverbial candle by creating literary and cultural works that rival and surpass the bad.”

Despite her unique creative giftings, Hannah recognized the value of creative cooperation with other likeminded people who would amplify each other’s work, bolster each other’s spirits, and sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron. So seriously did they take this intentional Christian community of creative change that they even lived together in creative community, literally eating and sleeping and creating and praying alongside each other for life. Nicknamed “the Clapham Sect,” this group of friends was a network of Christian creatives, businesspeople, politicians, writers, priests, bankers, philanthropists, and scholars—the most notable their unofficial leader William Wilberforce—who came together not only to bring an end to the slave trade but also to actively engage against other social evils of the day.

Each of the Clapham Sect would bring their unique Creative Types to the fight. No one person enough to win the battle against slavery on their own.

This beautiful juxtaposition of creative giftings among the Clapham Sect is seen no clearer than in the creative cooperation between Hannah More and William Wilberforce, the poet and the politician.

(Selections of the following come from my friend and amazing author, Jordan Raynor. Go check out his books and creative community at now!)

The Poet and the Politician [4]

After William Wilberforce’s conversion to Christianity in 1786, he defined the “Great Object” of his work in Parliament as nothing less than the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire.

To his credit, Wilberforce sensed that this change could not immediately be legislated. First, the hearts and minds of his countrymen would need to be transformed. To accomplish that, Wilberforce knew he “desperately needed someone in the world of culture.” He found that someone in Hannah More.

By all accounts, Wilberforce and More hit it off from their first meeting. Over time, More would become Wilberforce’s “closest collaborator,” the two forming one of the most powerful partnerships of all time. As Wilberforce’s biographer wrote, “How Wilberforce came to be the chief champion of abolition—and how he was able to succeed in ending the slave trade in Great Britain in 1807, after twenty years of battling—has everything to do with Hannah More.”

Soon after their first meeting, the partners were in agreement: Wilberforce would fight the battle against slavery with legislation in Parliament, while More would fight with quills and public poems.

Almost immediately, More went to work, writing a poem titled Slavery which was designed to help sway public opinion on the slave trade and influence members of Parliament to vote for Wilberforce’s proposed bill. Through this poem and other works of art, More “helped the average Briton see the humanity of the African slaves for the first time…. Her words pricked the consciences of millions, who came to feel that their country—which called itself a Christian country—must have no part in such an evil. Eventually hundreds of thousands of Britons signed petitions against the slave trade, which were brought by Wilberforce into Parliament and swayed its members toward abolition.”

The work went on like this for more than 45 years—Wilberforce introducing bill after bill, More writing poem after poem—until finally, legislative change came with the abolition of the slave trade in 1807.

Creative Type Partnerships

What can we learn from the partnership between these two very different Creative Types? As we have discussed throughout this book, and as Jordan Raynor so aptly describes in his email series How Change Happens (from which selected passages about Hannah More have been taken)—cultural change almost always precedes legislative change. If the Top-Down Fallacy says that voting the right people into office and passing the right laws is sufficient to enact cultural change (it’s not), the abolition of the British Slave Trade illustrates that bottoms-up cultural goods that appeal to the emotional fabric of a nation must first happen prior to legislative action. We must work to change hearts before we can work to change laws.

But we can’t do it alone! Hannah More’s poems were not enough to abolish the slave trade on their own; William Wilberforce still had to pass those laws! And this may seem an obtuse point, but the answer was not for Hannah More to become a politician, nor for William Wilberforce to become a poet. It’s unclear, though doubtful, how much cultural change would have happened if Hannah More was advocating in Parliament and William Wilberforce was writing poems.  It took the Poet and the Politician using their specific God-given creative giftings in cooperation with each other to create the change they so desperately desired.

Where Do You Fit?

What if you are not a politician or a poet? Don’t fret; this politician-poet relationship is just one of many among the Clapham Sect, each playing a special part while utilizing their God-given Creative Type to create for change in cooperation and collaboration with each other. Whether you are like one of the Clapham Sect: Christian creatives, businesspeople, politicians, writers, priests, bankers, philanthropists, and scholars—or maybe you are something else entirely, live out your Creative Calling in creative cooperation with others whom God has placed around you in community. “Culture making is people (plural) making something of the world—it is never a solitary affair.”[5] The proverbial guidance that “if you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together”[6] is instructive for all of us who want our cultural change efforts to have far-reaching impact.

Hannah More, William Wilberforce, and their circle of friends were creative, motivated individuals with special and varied gifts, but it was no one individual who affected mass cultural change, and because of this shared commitment to each other and their shared values, they not only saw the passage of the Slave Trade Act in 1807 and the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833, but they also founded pivotal and culture-changing institutions like the Anti-Slavery Society, the Abolition Society, the Proclamation Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Church Missionary Society, the Sunday School Society, the Bettering Society, and the Small Debt Society. Each of these institutions—nouns—took on a life of their own, their impact resounding far beyond the founders. “The key actor in history is not individual genius, but rather the network and the new institutions that are created out of those networks.” [7]

Discover How You Can Create for Change

More than voting. More than arguing on social media. Committing to real cultural change requires so much more. Discover your creative calling today.

Wedgwood Circle

In 2007, a small band of investors, philanthropists, and cultural influencers launched Wedgwood Circle with a common goal in mind: to promote the creation of good, true, and beautiful art in mainstream culture. [8] “At Wedgwood, we have long believed that creativity and imagination reflect the very nature of God, and that people of faith have a responsibility to create the world’s finest art and entertainment – good, true, and beautiful in every way.” [9]

Drew Shirley, a guitarist with the Grammy-winning band Switchfoot and Wedgwood Circle board member talks about his desire to mentor and connect with other up and coming artists. “I run the music aspect of Wedgwood… We fund projects in music, TV and film, and literature. And so I’ve had the opportunity to help artists along the way and help fund projects and bring money from investors and connect it to the patrons of the arts… We’re finding new ways to actually help artists make records, make songs, make videos, make impactful things.” [10]

With Wedgwood Circle, the creative cooperation between varied Creative Types is on full display. Film producers, investment bankers, artists, entrepreneurs, musicians, attorneys, professors, real estate magnates, politicians, and authors all come together to use their God-given Creative Types in complementary ways in order to glorify their Creator, serve their neighbors, and care for the culture around them.

Okay, this all sounds noble and wonderful and inspiring, but what does this look like practically? It’s one thing to love the idea of using your unique creative giftings in creative cooperation with other Creative Types much different than you, but how do we go about making that a reality? Here, Wedgwood Circle has done a world-class job of erecting a scaffolding for furthering creative cooperation between Creative Types in a systematic and process-oriented way. They have five main avenues for facilitating these connections:

The Patron Fund: Micro-grants given to emerging artists who are at a critical transition point.

Commissioned Projects & Fellowships: Larger grants given to more established artists who are working on key culture-shaping projects and need help breaking out to the next level.

Strategic Partnerships: Focus on artist care is a key value for Wedgwood. Enabling and fostering an ecosystem of creative collaboration means offering grants and other cooperative agreements with others focused on these same goals.

Program Related Investments: Managed through the Wedgwood Culture Fund, Program Related Investments (PRI) are deployments of non-profit capital into for-profit opportunities that promote the mission of the non-profit.

Deal Flow: Vetted creative projects and companies furthering culture-shaping goals can be connected with equity investors who want to further those same aims.

Can you tell that some Creative Types Ones, Fives, and Eights helped professionalize and institutionalize a mode of creative collaboration to work with the Fours, Sixes, and Sevens, while the Twos, Threes, and Nines made everything better?

Since 2007, Wedgwood has worked to cultivate and care for the culture around them, shaping the culture in Creator-honoring ways, and moving over $17 million through its conduits of capital.

Commonwealth Tampa Bay

Since its launch in 2019 I’ve had the privilege of serving in the social impact investing group Commonwealth Tampa Bay. Formed via partnership with National Christian Foundation and Sagamore Institute, we held a city-wide venture competition designed to highlight high impact city-shaping investments. Both for-profit and non-profit companies were invited to submit proposals and pitch their plan for social, spiritual, or environmental impact in Tampa Bay and beyond.

The winner of the 2020 Venture Competition was COhatch, a community town hall 2.0 that is part co-working space, part startup incubator, and part community gathering place designed to strengthen and improve communities, families, and individuals in the cities in which they operate. Co-Founders and Managing Partners John and Chris Watkins have a track record of success in five cities across the Midwest and were seeking investors and supporters to launch in more cities like Tampa.

While each of the people involved and the organizations they represented were impressive, what was more impressive was the mutual creative cooperation of many varied Creative Types all working together for the common good. Andrew Prilliman, CEO of National Christian Foundation Tampa Bay, an ex-Marine more at home in a tree stand than an office, and Jay Hein, President of Sagamore Institute, previous Deputy Assistant to President Bush and Director, White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, both coordinated scores of entrepreneurs, investors, and other culture-shapers willing to come together for the common good.

Creative Types in Creative Cooperation

And as everything from The Clapham Sect to Wedgwood Circle to Commonwealth Tampa Bay and many, many, more reminds us there are numerous life-affirming and culture-shaping ways for Creative Types to come together in creative cooperation in ways both big and small, formal and informal.

Every Creative Type has strengths and weaknesses and understanding your own is key to better stewardship of what God has given you. This can seem simultaneously empowering and frustrating, but there is a beautiful dynamic of creative cooperation when you realize how your strengths can help shore up another very different Creative Type and their very different strengths can bolster your own weaknesses. Yes, the Creative Enneagram can help us better understand ourselves so that we might utilize our weaknesses and improve our weaknesses, but it’s also a reminder of our creatureliness, our need as finite limited human beings for our Creator and for each other.

Because together, together is when the magic happens.

When we create for change together our cultural impact is magnified.

Together, we can change the world.

Discover How You Can Create for Change

More than voting. More than arguing on social media. Committing to real cultural change requires so much more. Discover your creative calling today.

[1] Jordan Raynor How Change Happens

[2] Ibid

[3] Eric Metaxas Seven Men and Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness Thomas Nelson October, 2018

[4] Selected text from Jordan Raynor’s email series “How Change Happens.” Credit to Jordan for introducing me to this key relationship among The Clapham Sect and for highlighting the life of Hannah More in this engaging and dynamic way.

[5] Andy Crouch. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, IVP Books, 2013. pg. 39

[6] African proverb

[7] James Davison Hunter




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Joel Ohman

Joel Ohman is a serial tech entrepreneur, author, and the chief creator at Created for Change. You can connect with Joel at or via LinkedIn.