SXSW Day Two: Place and community building in a hyper-connected global economy
Today at SXSW we dug into the concept of place. Below is a quick look into what we saw, heard and thought.
Governor of Washington and presidential candidate, Jay Inslee, talked about taking tried-and-true methods from his state and applying them nationwide to save the planet. Governor Inslee made a case for the climate as his candidacy’s top priority and organizing principle. The cost of climate change for each community will be different, but the climate connects us and is one of the only topics that makes us realize we are all part of a community called Earth. Inslee’s laser focus on climate was a good reminder for us, as a business, to think strategically, in broad terms but with a singular priority to make a difference.
A panel of entrepreneurs (Jenn Garbach, Tim Rettig, Rasheeda Creighton, and Richard Wintsch) talked about incubators and accelerators serving as the “front door” for community building among entrepreneurs and businesses. They reflected on the power of physical space and the impact it had on those working there – creating a sense of pride and useful collisions. By providing local resources, expertise, and tapping into their wider network, they helped not only those individuals but also became a place to invite the larger community in to participate.
This topic rang true with us and our connection to the Madison entrepreneurial ecosystem including Gener8tor, Starting Block, 30 ventures, etc. Moving Design Concepts from the edge of town to the center of the tech corridor in Madison allowed us to join and help build our local community.
We visited the Michigan House and heard design leaders (Bill Fluharty, Yuka Hiyoshi, Paul Martus and Leif Norland) talk about building design cultures within organizations and the power of the design community in Michigan. Developing critical mass in design in Michigan has allowed these businesses to flourish, grow and attract and keep talent. The design community and connection to place gave them a sense of pride and connection that went beyond the objects they created. We felt kinship with their Midwestern design ethic. It's collaborative, human-centered, and not based on ego.
From there, we ventured off to visit Scandinavia, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Chile, China, and the EU…it is a small world, after all. The best and brightest were on display. Countries were showing off their talent, technology and cultures, all distilled into unique environments, vignettes and experiences. We were awed by the diversity in talent, ideas and creativity. We could also feel the competition for talent on a global scale. (By the way, “the Germans” want you to color in the lines and “the Japanese” have decided that “pointless brings progress”… we don’t make the news, we just report it.)
We ended the day back at home ... well, on Rainey Street ... at a party we co-hosted with the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and Husch Blackwell where we celebrated all things Wisconsin and discussed our collective role in innovation, the climate, the need for talent, and beer. Badgers are a very loyal, happy, and proud clan.
What does all of this mean for us? A front door, a connected community (at any scale), and an understanding of your community’s priorities, advantages and gaps attract great people and set creativity in motion.
View all SXSW 2019 articles here.
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