How would a group of well-meaning citizens solve all of the social problems in their region on an ambitious deadline? There’s no instruction book. It’s never been done before. It would be both arrogant and exclusive for Collaboratory to contrive a plan and attempt to impose it from on high. The first step in figuring out how it will be done is to ask the community —how do you think it can be done? What role do you think government plays? Nonprofits? Business? What are your greatest dreams for our community? When we look back on it all a decade and a half from now, how do you think that together, we did it?
When President John F. Kennedy committed us to going to the moon, he didn’t know how it would be done. Heated conversations were ignited as a result of his daring and deadline. Would we go by direct ascent? By lunar orbit rendezvous? Earth orbit rendezvous? Until these questions were answered, no work could begin, because the answers were critical to knowing what vehicles had to be built and what vehicles did not.
We confront a parallel situation. Collaboratory’s role is coordination. So it makes sense that the first thing we need to do is coordinate a conversation about how this will be done. That’s the charge for our Brainstorming Department. After the initial phase of asking the biggest questions of all, we’re dreaming and brainstorming how we will achieve the milestones ordered by the larger plan.
Even the first phase of this effort is all about creativity, innovation, wild imagination, and crazy conjecturing, coming from every corner of the community. How can we look at problems and answers anew? Maybe there’s a way no one’s thought about. Maybe we can combine things in an ingenious way no one ever considered before. There are no wrong answers, and we’re not confined by any boxes.
We have five coalitions formed and forming that capture the universe of issues we are addressing: FutureMakers, Home, Health, Environment, and Place. This is our coordinating superstructure, and it covers all of the issues. Visit our new site—16years.org—to see if one piques your interest, join the brainstorming conversation, and track the progress toward this historic effort.