Just last week, I learned about Hub Atlanta, an “ecosystem” designed to connect social innovators and entrepreneurs in Atlanta. The Hub is based in a downtown building that includes shared work spaces, meeting rooms, and a café. Members can rent work space during the day, host events at night, and “connect with like-minded souls who share a passion for delivering positive social change.” Members from a wide range of organizations and interests work alongside each other, but also come together for lunchtime “think tanks” and post-work fun. Like its affiliates in cities across the country, Hub Atlanta is aiming to create new opportunities for collaboration.
What I love about the Hub is that is creates space for collaborations and idea-sharing that would otherwise never happen. Because while virtual communities are great for gathering like-minded people around a particular topic or purpose, places like the Hub create a hotbed for the “accidental” collaborations that can emerge from sheer proximity.
When I’m focused on a concrete goal, my instinct is to identify the specific next steps on the path to that goal, and make them happen. Hub Atlanta reminds me that it is also important to "make space" for new ideas and shared ideas to emerge.
For example: friend and marketing star Jamie Eslinger is in the process of gathering several “marketing mavens” for a weekend retreat designed to arm participants with very specific deliverables. I imagine that while the concrete benefits might be what spurs sign-up, it is the environment that participants create together that will yield true magic.
Two other examples relevant to advancing social change in Boston:
-TEDxBoston: On Thursday, Boston’s own version of the TED conference will create space for “ideas worth spreading” – combining the benefits of an in-person experience with online streaming to expand reach.
-The Nonprofit Center is one of the largest multi-tenant nonprofit buildings in the United States. Shared space allows nonprofits to benefit from lower infrastructure costs, but even more importantly, to benefit from collaboration with other organizations striving for social change.
How do you foster “accidentally on purpose” collaborations or idea-sharing?