I’m looking forward to the meeting dubbed “Group of Groups” happening later tonight. A large number of high-profile tech community members have been gathered to sit down and decide how to improve our community and its cohesiveness. It’s enthusiastic to see these individuals taking the time to get involved, but I’m concerned about the lasting impact that this meeting will produce. Primarily because of each person’s interpretation of “improving our community”. It has been suggested that meeting once per quarter will be enough to keep our channels of communication open, but I don’t believe that it will be enough.
Part of our community’s problem is how far everyone is stretched apart from each other. I’ve written before about how valuable serendipity can be to success and it applies similarly with community. As an attempt toward improving this, I propose creating more opportunities to have one-on-one interactions. If you’re having trouble thinking of reasons to get together, lunches are a perfect excuse. I think if each person can commit to having lunch once per month with someone else in the community, two things will happen: (1) we will generate more serendipity and (2) more starkly expose our “disconnected-ness” as a community. Both of these are hugely beneficial in our communities growth, but only if we’re truly all-in on building this community.
I’ve started an open thread on the South Florida Tech Leaders Google Group for lunch invitations. I hope you’ll consider my offer.
South Florida Tech Leaders open lunch invitation
Mike Greenberg is a software developer from South Florida. Occasionally, his finger-peckings are attention-worthy. The rest of the time, he’s just intentionally distracting you from something he doesn’t want you to see.
You can even follow @mikegreenberg on Twitter.
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On Manufacturing your own Serendipity
Most of Southeast Florida has felt significant momentum in the entrepreneurial and technology sectors of the community. Increased attention from the press, ad hoc meeting places and events are occurring more frequently, and people are coming out of the woodwork to participate and be involved. In fact, many in the Palm Beach area are interested in cultivating our corner of the state into something more of a community. Last month, I was party to a large group who were passionate to be represented and have their opinions on community improvement heard. It’s all very motivating and makes me feel like this year is going to see significant milestones for what we want to accomplish. Unfortunately, I have not seen anyone come to the table with the idea of a product.
Details that focus on employment ratio, improving job creation, raising median salaries, better cooperation between universities and local business are important and require attention. But, there should be a vision; a ten-thousand foot view that can anchor the individual efforts of the larger community. What sort of amenities and features do you desire around the area that you work in? How about around your home? How much exposure and participation do you want your business to have with the rest of the community? What types of businesses do you value in your community?
These are the sort of questions that’s been kicking around our office the past few months. By understanding the characteristics which are most important, we can answer the more difficult questions. What physical locale is most ideal to incubate the type of community I want? How can we engage existing businesses and infrastructure in this locale to help complement our community?
As an exploratory effort, we built a spreadsheet to capture these details. You don’t need to be quite so pedantic, but you should have a good vision of what your community will be like ten years from now. Care to share one requirement you have for your community in the comments below?
We’ll be asking this question and sharing our plans for a new Makerspace at an upcoming community growth meetup. If you have ideas to share or want to find out what we’re working on, please join us on January 31st for the lowdown!
I’ve been working on teaching folks how to play with Arduinos, an open-source hardware prototyping platform. Deborah Acosta from the Miami Herald caught wind and asked if she could ask me a few questions about the swelling maker movement in South Florida. She got back to me last week and told me the video was live! My 15-seconds of fame can be found at the end of this video, “Trendspotting: The Maker Movement“.
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Note: I’m cross-posting this from the South Florida Tech Leadership group. We’re a group of leaders in South Florida who are passionate about improving the tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region. If you’re interested in joining in on the conversation, just drop in or introduce yourself on twitter.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve read a bunch of inspiring blog posts with different angles on building your local community. I wanted to share summaries and links with you. In particular, the one below about giving back through workshops spoke particularly to me as I prepare the next version of an Arduino workshop. I plan on following up on that one as it focuses a lot on personal benefits and glosses over the community-building side (which are significant).
Has anyone else read any interesting blog posts, articles or experiences about community-building?
People who spend their money on the slim chance to win millions are derogatorily referred to as gamblers. “These people have a problem and need to get help,” but I understand the satisfying feeling of spontaneous and beneficial discovery. Or in their case, discovering their bank account several times larger than it was mere seconds ago. These people aren’t really addicted to spending their money. They’re addicted to serendipity. And sure, some extra money is a pretty shallow victory. But with a more altruistic goal in place, serendipity tends to be a pretty satisfying experience. It’s the reason I’ve gambled upwards of 100+ hours of free time in the past six months to helping strangers improve themselves and their lives. It can be difficult for people to understand why I go out of my way to help others, but that’s only because they are looking at the short-term benefits. In reality, I find a wealth of benefits that come from listening to other people’s struggles and then helping find ways to solve them.
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