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Make the Impossible Possible Reading Guide: Home

This guide is a companion to the book "Make the Impossible Possible," by Bill Strickland, in advance of his visit to campus in April 2012.

Getting started

This guide includes discussion questions for Bill Strickland's book, Make the Impossible Possible. Use the tabs to navigate to questions specifically about arts and entrepreneurship, and to links for further resources.


Bill will visit Iowa City April 2-3, 2012.

Monday, April 2nd:

6:30-7:45 PM: Public Presentation at the Iowa City Public Library.

Tuesday, April 3rd:

8:00-9:00 AM: (Invitation-only) Roundtable with Iowa City/University of Iowa leaders about how to integrate Mr. Strickland's ideas on creative cities into our community.

10:00-11:00 AM: (Invitation-only) Informal discussion with University of Iowa student social entrepreneurs about how to make their dreams "possible."

12:30-1:45 PM: Visit to Life Design class.

General discussion questions

Use these questions to start your own discussion of the book. Please leave comments if you come up with other questions, or you want to share your thoughts with the community.

  1. Throughout the book, Bill returns to the moment he first met with art teacher Frank Ross. Have you had any mentors like Ross? What makes these relationships so vital? What other important relationships does Strickland describe?
  2. Strickland recounts several stories of penetrating different social strata: for example, when he meets Drew Mathieson at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh. He suggests that an ability to move between different groups has helped him be successful. Have you experienced this in your own life?
  3. "But genius is not the same thing as IQ or talent. It's not something you're born with. It's not something you are. Genius is something you discover. We all have access to genius. It runs through our lives like a vein of gold. The people we call 'geniuses' have found a way to tap this vein and use the power of their own potential to do remarkable things." (p. 138) What do you think of this definition of genius?
  4. Strickland describes "swing" as an important characteristic of his life. When do you experience swing in your own life?
  5. Other incarnations of the Manchester Bidwell approach to job training and arts education have sprung up in San Francisco, Cincinnati, and other cities. Each reflects the needs of the particular community. What do you think this kind of program would look like in Iowa City? Or in your own hometown?

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Katie Hassman