Over the past two days, more than 150 people participated in the Creative New Jersey conference, discussing how creativity and innovation can help revitalize New Jersey. (See this earlier blog post for background on the conference).
This was no ordinary conference, with the agenda predetermined. Rather, the conference followed an “open space” format, which has minimal structure. As shown in the photos below, participants set the agenda for the two days by suggesting topics for discussion and posting them on large sheets of paper to the “Marketplace” wall, labeled with a time and meeting room where the conversation would take place. Participants then chose from the Marketplace which conversations they wanted to join throughout the two days, remembering that if they weren’t feeling engaged or inspired by the discussion, they could leave at any time and join a different one (the “rule of two feet”).
Discussions covered a huge range of topics, including “How do we create meaningful work for young people?” and “How can we use public space to inspire innovation and revitalize communities?” as well as “Teaching to and measuring for creativity” and “If you have all the political support and money you needed (!) what would be your crazy BIG IDEA to encourage creativity and innovation in NJ?”
Even those are just a small fraction of what took place.
Intrigued? You should be. There was no shortage of ideas, connections made and meaningful conversations. And thanks to a coordinated effort and effective use of technology, all of these discussions have been captured and shared in real time on the CreativeNJ website. There, you can also find short, interesting interviews of the conference’s participants, as well as information about who was at the conference, and a gallery of photos.
It’s a lot of information and ideas to absorb – whether you were there or not. We urge you to take a look and get inspired, but we also urge you to take your time looking over the website to see what sparks your imagination (you can search by areas of interest), and revisit it occasionally.
Dodge helped sponsor and lead this effort because we care about the future livability of New Jersey – we’re focused on the issues that our home state faces and believe in supporting creativity, which we know takes on many different forms. We continually strive to bring people together in new and unexpected ways: we want to help spark ideas, make connections, and help you discover new resources.
Now that the conference is over, we have some questions for those who participated, but also for those of you who are thinking about the issues that New Jersey faces:
How do we keep the conversation and the momentum going?
What connections with other people and/or resources do you need help making?
Dodge has an arsenal of resources to offer: we make grants, of course, but we also have capacity building workshops to help you strengthen your organization as well as a suite of other financial and legal services that we underwrite. We can help you convene groups of people and make cross-sector connections, and we can offer you the conference space in which to hold meetings too. And as a foundation working solely on issues that impact New Jersey, we can also offer you our staff’s expertise, which we have developed over many years of criss-crossing the state, meeting with stakeholders from all sectors.
If you have ideas, questions, or comments, we want to hear them. Post them in the comments section below and help us keep the conversation rolling.
Images: Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation