In New London, Middletown, New Haven and Norwalk, about 60 people gathered for the first Connecticut Creates event. At the Bean &Leaf, Javapalooza, The Grove and Fat Cat Pie Co., each conversation took on the big idea of designing your own future and made it their own. Below are recaps from each location's facilitators:
From Suzi Craig and Ruth Baxter in New London . . .
In New London, the group discussed the lack of awareness for what others are doing in the city, region and statewide, and how greater connections are needed. Other challenges raised: a cumbersome government, lack of clarity on who to turn to when starting a business in the city and fragmentation -- why do we act like we're 5 states in 1?
Regarding some comments about Connecticut Creates, it was noted that what's interesting about CT Creates is the emphasis on social responsibility (based on the first 3 people to be profiled) and that we're showing how the "entrepreneurial mindset" can be applied to whatever you're looking to accomplish.
- What if we established a "mentorship of creativity," with others helping others in their community? Could this effort strengthen how we achieve progress in this state?
- There is a trend towards supporting the livelihoods and quality of life at the micro-community level, such as through Common Currency initiatives.
Joe Cascio (Stonington), a technology consultant, software engineer and social media maven; Mark Roberts (New London), Chairman of the Tsetse Gallery and is heading up a Common Currency initiative in NH, MA and CT; Harry Smith (New London), the city planner for New London; Kay Pere (Mystic), an educator, songwriter/singer, artist and activist; Chris Jones (Waterford), a soon-to-be retailer who is crowdsourcing funds to start the Monte Cristo bookstore, which would be the only one in New London; Susan Tamulevich (Branford) Director of Custom House Maritime Museum in New London.
From Mike Marques in Norwalk . . .
The key people heading up Norwalk's city wide initiative called Norwalk 2.0 were in attendance, including Fat Cat owner, Tony Ancona, who is a busy grassroots entrepreneur who is starting an internet radio station out of "Fat Cat City" that will only be available to owner operated businesses.
Another great addition to the conversation was Allison Hornak, the brainchild of Migrant Salon, an art gallery that has no location. Her intention is to bring local area artists in CT to showcase in other parts of the state, where ever she can find space.
Another guest shared a story we've heard many times before. Upon entering a raffle at the CT Biz Expo for a well-known organization, he was told not to enter because he lived in Stamford and that they "do not consider Fairfield County a part of Connecticut."
All agreed that CT is many segregated areas and needs to be connected. An interesting point about local organizations and groups in CT that came up . . .
Many organizations and clubs purposely do not reach out to similar organizations because of the competition of members and funding. How to we get these places on board?
From John Gibson and Melissa Harris in Middletown . . .
Connecticut Creates "profilee" Kristin Brooks joined this group to share her story and perspectives. All agreed that Kristin is a spitfire who can help show what it means to create from what many might seem an unlikely place: government.
One guest discussed her definition of creativity which is "noticing opportunities." The group also raised a really big question: How can CT Creates help bring the idea of creativity to sectors that don't typically think in those terms? All agreed that CT Creates can find real impact by "presenting opportunities to expand our perceptions."
Guests included Ira Mickenberg, a retired physician who is passionate about pursuing what he does not know; Sondra Dellaripa, principal at the Harvest Development Group, who left the corporate world to help nonprofits find success through creativity; Stacey Zackin, a life coach who is involved with the Creativity Coaching Roundtable, writing her dissertation on the psychology of hospitality and a DJ at 88.1 WESU.
From Rich Hollant and Tyler Rine in New Haven . . .
Our meeting approach initially tried to stay within the guardrails: get people in... learn their stories, find out who they may know that fits the mould. In typical form for a group of people who came together around the idea of shaping their own future, the meeting quickly went rogue.
There was a lot of talk about "art". In fact, Bun joined us and talked about the work he is doing as "his art". We all felt that this should be expected as the first folks to pop up when the word "create" is mentioned will be artists, designers, musicians, writers and performers. Participants who weren't artists needed to get a better sense of how they fit into the scheme of things. At this point we talked about the broader definition of "creating", how it applies to business, lifestyle choices, parenting, how we live our lives—what we invite in equally in line with what we put out.
The question was raised pertaining to how we differ from other programs focused on innovation. This reply seemed to resonate with the group: The other programs are tax revenue based stimulus programs. CT Creates doesn't follow the money. We care about how we live... that the individual stories are not necessarily commerce stories, but models for following one's bliss regardless of economic value. Though economic development may be a byproduct of this effort, it's not the point of engagement.
At the root of what most folks want to know is this: we are now gathered. We are now introduced. What now, brown cow? I picked up the energy that if this is just a get together and feel good movement, it would soon vaporize. We lobbed out a 3 pronged approach that sounds like: 1) mine for people living it "right" already. 2) Facilitate "living it right" and document the successful conversations. 3) Build a giant megaphone and use the success models to attract like minds to the area from across the mainland.
Ambitious? Yes. Doable? Heck yeah.