07 Oct 2019 CAUSE & EFFECT: Collaboratory State of Mind
Like a lot of folks, this past summer I watched news accounts of the Apollo 11 moon landing that marked the 50th anniversary of that historic achievement. What struck me watching those grainy old clips of two human beings on the surface of another world, was that what seemed a scientific wonder was really a wonder of the human spirit. And belief. And determination.
In fact, because there was a vast crater field and truck-sized boulders where the lunar module was computer-programmed to land, Neil Armstrong had to take control and fly the ungainly looking craft manually to search for a smooth spot, finally settling on the dusty moonscape with some 16 seconds of fuel left. This as NASA and the world held their breath and watched live during the most audacious, live global television event of the 20th century. Hey, no pressure.
Reflecting back on that incredible achievement, I realize it was the culmination of a long-term collective effort that extended far beyond NASA. It entailed diversely talented people working throughout the country, each crafting an indispensable piece of the overall puzzle that had to be solved to accomplish the mission. From aerospace engineers to space health and nutrition specialists to spacesuit fabricators – the Apollo astronaut’s life-sustaining suits were hand-constructed by a Playtex seamstress!
No one could’ve blamed them if those who banded together felt overwhelmed by the challenge. But they rolled up their sleeves and set out to make it happen. More than anything else, I believe their shared mission began as a mind-set embraced by those responsible for the human footprint on the moon. Call it a moonshot state of mind.
As we mark the one-year anniversary of Collaboratory’s opening on the 21st of this month, it strikes me that, day-by-day over the course of the past three years of planning that preceded and accompanied its opening, the energetic outpouring of community support for this regional space we’ve built together has put us all in a Collaboratory state of mind. More than just a place, it’s a space, a community mind-set that fuels our shared determination to bring about positive change that advances the economic, social and environmental sustainability for all of Southwest Florida.
We, the staff and Board of Trustees, have been humbled by the community’s embrace and support. We have learned, and continue to learn, so much from all of you, and we celebrate you on this milestone achievement.
Working with our community partners from the very beginning, we have nurtured the concept together and continue to allow it to evolve in order to most effectively meet the diverse needs of the region.
On the cusp of year two and beyond, we’ll seek ways to most productively gather actionable information to help guide our efforts. For example, we are launching a new community initiative on October 17, nearly a year to the day after Collaboratory opened, and everyone in the region is invited. In fact, we’re aiming to begin the biggest conversation our community has ever had.
It’s called On the Table® Southwest Florida, a community-wide conversation where for one day, residents of our five-county region of Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, Glades, and Collier counties, will gather to discuss the things that matter most to them. Our favorite things. Our issues and opportunities. Our boldest ambitions and our biggest challenges to making our community better and more dynamic. On the Table® provides a way for all of us to be more civically engaged and committed to the community. If you’re interested in learning how you can participate, more information is available at http://floridacommunity.com/OTT.
Such gatherings underscore our focus on listening to the concerns, ideas and insights of participants who know their communities and how best to effect positive change there, and how we can assist them based on the information they provide. This front-line knowledge will empower Collaboratory to be more sharply focused and intentional about how we integrate these cross-currents of knowledge.
Such community conversations engaged on the forefront of regional issues are key to future success. With Collaboratory as the data and informational curator, we seek to apply meaningful and appropriate technology to produce the necessary meaningful information to drive decision-making.
These are exciting times. And it’s just the beginning. Collaboratory is now home to co-collaborators who form the core of a burgeoning entrepreneurial community that shares our vision for a prosperous and sustainable region. Additionally, by our one-year mark, a new co-working space will be up and running at the campus because the community requested it. The energy here is infectious and, if you’ve yet to visit, I invite you to come see what the excitement is all about!
Here in our own little corner of the universe, Collaboratory, too, is a wonder of the human spirit. And belief. And determination. And I’m deeply grateful to each and every one of our community members and partners who helped make it a reality. You are the ones who created a Collaboratory state of mind and enabled Southwest Florida to shoot for the moon.
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $6.8 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $78.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.