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From Constraints to Creativity

My role in designing structures for Unreasonable at Sea

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As the oh-so official scheduling & logistics guru on board the MV Explorer (also known as the Associate Director for Unreasonable at Sea) my days are centered around one overwhelming challenge:

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(1) TAKE: 20+ radical, forward thinking, unreasonable entrepreneurs

 

(2) DESIGN:  structures, schedules & programming

 

—>   THAT RESULT IN = one epic, creative environment for rapid ideation

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SAMPLE PROJECT:

The first way I usually describe my role in this process is with an example:

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MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: VISA PROJECT

Main Objective [MO]:  Get our incredible, out-of-the-box thinking, rule-breaking, unreasonable entrepreneurs, & our entire team (40+ people representing 12+ different countries) to successfully gain entry to all 14 port stops along our voyage.

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Action Items:

  • Ensure completion of all necessary forms & processes for customs & immigration
  • Convince last-minute planners to set their travel plans in advance (as much as possible)
  • Ensure each traveler obtains all necessary visas & permits to enter 12 different countries around the world (with different regulations and requirements based on citizenship, region, and feelings of the person who happens to be at customs that day)

    

While I would consider our work on this challenge to be exceptionally successful both at the front end of our voyage and as we continue to encounter new surprises & regulations along the way, it is clear even in description that I am using the typical method of addressing operational challenges:

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(1) Visualize the objectives

(2) Develop a strategy

(3) Turn plans into action

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And while this method has worked relatively well previously, in traveling around the world with a community of design-thinking, unreasonable people, I am learning to evaluate this strategy in a radically new way.  On the ops team for U@Sea (which consists of myself + the incredible Chief of Staff, Taylor Rowe) we are pushed to go beyond the method mentioned of addressing challenges, and to leap out into the environment of experimentation design that exists on this unique voyage.

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Because when you work for a creative entrepreneurial community, it isn’t simply about getting the logistical and scheduling tasks completed; the real challenge is how to take the logistical aspects of the voyage, and turn them into opportunities for increased creativity.

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How do you set up daily schedules and logistical tasks in a way that will actually ENHANCE the creative atmosphere rather than stifling it?

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Turns out, logistics and structures are not so opposite to creativity after all. As I have learned in our daily workshops on board, one of the core principles to design thinking is as follows:

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Constraints inspire creativity.

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So the new [MO] for our U@Sea Ops team is to:

Take a constraint, of which there are many as we logistically navigate across the globe, and turn it into a design challenge; a communal experiment for how to operate most effectively and creatively on a world-traveling ship.

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As our 10 teams of entrepreneurs rapidly prototype various elements of their projects and solve challenges daily, our U@Sea team is learning to work with the same principles to address the challenges of running the program.

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As George Kembel (our co-founder of U@Sea, founder of Stanford’s d.school of innovation, and someone for whom my admiration seems to build daily,) stated in our very first team meeting in San Diego:

 

When you begin to frame each project, each encounter as a learning experience, everything changes.

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Working in a logistical, operations-heavy job at Unreasonable at Sea, I am reminded daily that no matter what role we play in our community or in life, we are all challenged to push ourselves to experiment and learn in every way possible, and to take on the opportunity to design our experience. 

Categories: ALL Entries, Uncategorized, Unreasonable At Sea | 1 Comment

The Burden of Legacy: It is no dream.

Legacy.

A pretty big word around here.

Here being Jerusalem, a city that many nations hold dear due to its history and importance in relation to their people, their culture, their religion. As a proud member of the Jewish religion and culture, I find this place resonates with me on an impossibly deep level. I feel the ties to the land, not magically or mythologically, but rather in a historical sense; with understanding and awe that my ancestors have considered this land sacred for longer than I can truly comprehend. That this land has served as a place of refuge and of tragedy, of life and of death. And that the experience I have today while living in Jerusalem is inextricably tied to the experience my ancestors had in this land so long ago.

Jewish liturgy and culture has been built around this land. Our words and prayers allude to it, our thoughts are encouraged to be constantly tuned to it, our actions are expected to be in support of its preservation and accessibility (disregarding for a moment the unbelievably complex and valuable discussion of which parties this accessibility actually extends to).

While much of Jewish liturgy comes directly from the Torah (bible), many prayers that are Rabbinic in origin were created in times of the diaspora after the destruction of the Second Temple, when Jews around the world only dreamed of life here in this land. At the time, it was out of their reach. At the time, there was no realistic consideration of ownership of the land, there were no human beings dispossessed of their homes in order for us to live here.

1948. Theodore Herzl, infamous for his involvement in Zionism and the establishment of a Jewish State proclaims “If you will it, it is no dream.” And he was right, at present moment we are living the dream that existed for so many before us. The dream of living in the land of the creation of our people, of spiritual grounding and connection according to our religious beliefs.

So what does that mean for us? Now that we are living the dream of our ancestors? Now that we are blessed with the chance to live out the deepest yearning of those who came before us, to embrace a way of life they could only imagine, and to develop their legacy in real life experience?

Questions I still struggle to answer. Legacy, I find, is both a beautiful blessing and an incredibly complex burden.

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A Personal Addition:

While living in Israel, I have been able to connect to some of my older family members here, and to learn incredible stories about my personal family history that I had never heard before.

I learned about my grandmother, Beatrice (Batya) Abramowitz, who the B in my name (Shira B) is named after. I learned that she was a brilliant woman, that “Beatrice, she could do anything.” That she used to go to debates with all of the men, and that “nobody could stump her.” I learned that she was one of the few women of her time that received a University Pass upon graduating high school, making her eligible to apply to university in South Africa. I learned that she had no money for this university education, that her wealthy uncle refused her a loan, even when she promised to pay back every penny.

I heard more and more about the abusive man she married, about the way her life spiraled downwards as she was no longer allowed to attend the debates, as she was abused physically and emotionally, and as she fell into a deep depression after the death of her husband and the subsequent signing over of her two youngest children (including my father) to the local Jewish orphanage where they remained for the duration of her lifetime.

I was previously familiar of the tragic portion of the family story; I knew that my grandmother had fallen into depression, I knew that my father had grown up in an orphanage. I never felt connected to her. And suddenly, in my year of “connection,” in my exploration of self, soul, and spirit here in Jerusalem, I have found that the “B” in me was actually a bright, brilliant woman, full of life and dreams of pursuing her education.

I, at 22, with my university degree in hand and a world of incredible opportunities at my fingertips now understand why my father insisted I go straight to college/university from high school. Why education and academic achievement have been paramount in my life at home, and what an indescribable opportunity I have to live out the dreams of my very own grandmother.

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Legacy, a beautiful blessing and an intense feeling of responsibility. Because as much as we often like to think that we live simply in the now, strong and stable and oh-so-independently, we all come from a legacy. We all hold within us a personal history that extends far beyond our lifetime.

In my previous post, I wrote about the ideas of paradox in Judaism, of multiple truths in context of recent Palestine-Israel conflict. Perhaps related to this is the Jewish concept of the interwoven nature of blessings and curses. That in every curse there is a blessing, that in all bad there is good, and vice versa.

When it comes to legacies, to burdens of living out the dreams of those who came before us, we all have the opportunity to feel the blessing and the curse, the gratitude and the stress, the beauty of opportunity and the burden of responsibility.

In the end, in the present, it’s our choice. Which way will we live?

Thank you to anyone who is taking the time to read this post, to provide any comments, personal thoughts, or private messages. All feedback is deeply appreciated.

Until Next Time,

xxxx

Shira Bee

Categories: ALL Entries, Jerusalem, Life Lessons, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Notes By ShiraBee: Hevron Visit, Preparation

Notes By ShiraBee: Hevron Visit, Preparation

Preparatory session for our trip to Hevron (West Bank). Speakers presented about the biblical connection to the region, the historical political background, the view from Breaking the Silence, and from an IDF soldier.
(click for more!)

Categories: Jerusalem, Life Lessons, Notes By ShiraBee, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Soul of Jerusalem: A View of Multiple Truths

Wherever you stand,

be the soul of that place.

~ Rumi

But what does it mean to be the soul of a place like Jerusalem? A place where so many people feel most closely connected to their own inner strength and beliefs, and yet stand in direct conflict with one another?

One of the very first lessons I learned in my program of text study at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies was as follows:

When learning Gemara**, there are always at least two truths, and they directly contradict each other.

** Gemara = a body of text of rabbinic debate that accompanies the oral torah/bible and serves as an important source for Jewish law
 

Instead of the western learning ideal of gaining knowledge in search of a single right answer, Jewish learning involves argument; it involves debate. There are various differing opinions and stances and interpretations, and yet simultaneously there exists an intense oneness of belief and faith. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful aspects of Jewish religion and spirituality, and in my opinion a part that is so often overlooked and underrepresented.

     

In a recent edition of Fast Company, Robert Safian proposes that understanding the duality of opposing truths is necessary for entrepreneurs and business leaders to be successful in today’s economic climate. In his article “Secrets of the Flux Leader,” Safian brings to the table Margaret Wheatley’s argument: that we can no longer rely on singularly directed pathways of reasoning rooted in the 17th century ideas of Sir Isaac Newton,

“We now know that cause and effect is not a given in the natural world. Creation comes not from stasis but from unpredictable movement.”

In illustration of her statement, Wheatley, cited again by Safian, points to the example of a double-slit experiment, in which

“An electron behaves like a wave when it is observed in one way and like a particle when it is observed another way. Both views are true

Clearly this example evidences a natural source for the necessity of opposing truths.  The idea that Wheatley identifies and that Safian builds into his theory of leadership for Generation Flux is this need for acceptance of multiple truths in order to succeed and operate in our increasingly complex world.

   

And there it is. A beautiful bridge between the Jewish learning that I am participating in here and the entrepreneurial world that is so deeply a part of who I am becoming.  In order to be a great leader, in order to tackle the unavoidable challenges and complexities to come, one first must understand the basic idea that there are opposing truths, and that even a oneness of belief is composed of many fractions of nuanced disagreement. 

 

But of course, as always seems to happen, this concept has become even more challenging to me in light of the current Israel-Palestine conflict. 

Over the past few weeks, as many of you know,  hundreds of rockets have been launched into Israel, and an Israeli Military Operation including an air raid and sea attack on Gaza has been underway.

Personally, I have struggled with the question of how to react to this situation, both privately and publicly. I know that I need to let family and friends know that I am safe, and that I’m expected to provide some comment on the situation given my evident proximity. But how can I possibly cover everything that I have witnessed, felt, and experienced here in one simple post? 

How can I express my awe at the Israelis who are willing to stand up and fight for the freedom of their fellow citizens to live in peace, the bravery that I see amongst people my age and younger who feel their duty to their people so fiercely that they are willing to risk their own lives the second they are needed?

How do I reconcile this awe and appreciation, with the understanding of how deeply the suffering will be felt by the Palestinian civilians, many of whom are innocent bystanders in a situation that paints them as either crippled victims or radical terrorists, but so rarely as fellow human beings?

How do I come close to describing the sadness I see in the eyes of my friends, when they discuss the deaths on both sides of the border-lines. The deaths of children, of families, of innocent looking for refuge?

How can I ever say anything that comes close to the feeling of hearing that sirenrealizing that I had approximately one minute to get to a shelter: of running with my friends to the nearest building, pulling at locked doors, running to the next and finding refuge in a stairwell as we waited for the inevitable boom, simultaneously assuring our distance and safety and confirming our fears that a rocket had reached its destination somewhere, with no news of whether it had taken the lives of those nearby.

And how do I even begin to imagine how this tiny, insignificant, singular experience of terror must feel for the millions of people living both in the south of Israel and in Gaza, who are under a constant barrage of rockets and missiles from the air. Of parents in southern Israel who hear these sirens hundreds of times, who have  seconds to pull their families into bomb shelters at any given moment? Of parents on both sides who spend their entire day on edge, constantly aware: where are my children, how close are we to a bomb shelter if one even exists? Constantly calculating their next move, their safe move. How can my words do justice to the feelings of a mother less than 50 miles away whose simple daily errand of grocery shopping becomes a strategic calculated risk? Or a mother who prays with her entire being that the humanitarian aid will reach her family, and that her children will make it through one more night?

The answer is simple. I can’t. This is the perfect and terrifying situation that seemingly demonstrates everything I have been learning here so far. There are multiple truths, an endless complexity of factors. When confronting the complexity of the Palestine-Israel conflict there is no single right answer, only a series of conflicting “facts,” opposing truths, and a tremendous amount of suffering on all sides.

So what is there to do, in an impossible situation of conflict and opposition?

It seems the best thing we can do is to engage in full and open perception of the situation, understand how much we simply do not understand, orient ourselves in a direction of peace and of deep gratitude for those who are risking their lives for the sake of this seemingly impossible goal, and take actionable steps of support for those who are suffering. 

 

So here lies my first semblance of an answer to the questions: what is it that I’m doing here in Israel? Why would I ever choose to give up the incredible job opportunities, proximity to entrepreneurial friends I love and admire, and projects I’ve been working on to live here? In Jerusalem? 

Because here, I am learning to understand what it really means to embrace mutlitple truths. To challenge the norm, to challenge your havruta (study partner), to challenge your own very core beliefs with conflicting statements that are both true and untrue and varying degrees of truth all at the same time.

And most importantly, I am learning how to understand these truths in a way that allows me to take a conscious, confident, and self-assured step forward. Because it’s not just about being able to understand the depth of human experience, of communities, of spirituality, of business; it’s about being able to act upon your understanding in the most effective, strategic, and beneficial way.  

          

What does it mean to be the “soul of this place?”

To me, it means to acknowledge just how many souls are deeply connected here, to point towards an attitude of peace and empathy, and to pursue actions in accordance with these values.

          

After my own personal experience of hearing a siren go off, running for safety, and getting a glimpse of the terror that millions go through on a daily, hourly, or continual basis, I feel exceptionally grateful for the community I have here and all over the world that stands in support of peace and justice. A deep and heart-felt thank you to all of you who are keeping those here in this tiny part of the world in your hearts, thoughts, and prayers.

Until next time,

xxx

Shira Bee

Categories: ALL Entries, Jerusalem, Life Lessons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Love Your Limits

And I’m in Jerusalem.

Life is different here. As someone said beautifully in the opening circle of my program, Pardes, I think “I breathe differently here.”  The pure age of the structures around me, the intensely spiritual aura that seems to ebb and flow throughout the city during the times of high holidays, and the love that so many people from numerous backgrounds, religions, and belief systems have for this place – it honestly feels magical at times.

And then at times it doesn’t. Something I’ve realized (or rather something that has slapped me in the face since I’ve been here) is how difficult it is, even is such an incredible setting, to feel present and connected. In moving here I fell into a common trap many of us face (especially those of us in the crazy start-up world) of trying to do too many things at once. For me, this included moving to a new country and to a new apartment with 5 roommates, starting a new learning program involving 20-30 hours of class & a commute, launching the hiring process for my small business, Campus Swaps, starting a new job as the Associate Director at Unreasonable at Sea, working on a personal curriculum involving excel, adobe, & coding, oh and somewhere in here I wanted to write a new blog post……

Even as it seems a bit ridiculous now, what’s really more striking is that this is absolutely common behavior for me and for most of the people I surround myself with. So many of us do this to ourselves; we continuously overburden, overstress, overcomplicate.

So what have I learned during my first month here?

That limitations are important.

That in knowing your own limits and using them to align your time with your most authentic values lies the key to a more meaningful and connected experience of life.

In an incredible book I read once upon a time in a bookstore in NYC, Clayton Christensen writes:

“You can talk all you want about having a strategy for your life, understanding motivation, & balancing aspirations with unanticipated opportunities…But ultimately, this means nothing if you do not align those with where you actually expend your time, money, and energy.”

It is only once we accept that we sometimes cannot do it all, that we have to make hard choices and focus on things that are truly important, that we realize it is this focus itself that allows us to live a life we really love.

Categories: ALL Entries, Life Lessons, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment

3 Steps to Intentional Space

Open space.

Last month while visiting the BOLD Academy out in Boulder, Colorado, I participated in a group activity of Open Space, in which people signed up for sessions of learning, sharing, and discussion. But what I found most intriguing wasn’t the content itself, but the design of the exercise.

The guidelines are as follows:

Whoever shows up are the right people.
Whenever it starts is the right time.
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.
Whenever it’s over it’s over.

And the only rule is the Law of two feet: whenever you feel it is right, you are free to get up, move around, choose wherever it is that you want to be. If you’re not getting or giving, move yourself!
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This is just one exercise that embodies many of the concepts that I have seen in designed spaces over the past few months. Organizations specializing in this area are growing in number: Bold Academy, StartingBloc, Summit Series, Sandbox, The New American Tavern, The Village, Memento’s Factory 0 , and so many more.

Groups that exist with the intention of creating a space. A space for connection, for open collaboration, for self-discovery through connection to others, and for personal and business growth based on life-long relationships.

They all have different words for it, they design, curate, facilitate; but in the end they’re all talking about the same thing:

Intentional Space.

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By developing expertise in creating an intentional space, these organizations provide an experience that allows people to be 100% present in the moment, 100% authentic to their core, and to connect with a community of other people looking for the same thing. From the Summit team’s ability to connect high-profile individuals making very visible waves in the world, to StartingBloc’s approach of incubating future innovators just beginning to bring their ideas to action, each organization creates an insanely powerful “wow” experience for members of their community.

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How do they do this? How do they create such powerful intentional spaces?

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1. They set intention through values.

What I’ve noticed is that these organizations spend a lot of time curating/designing their own foundation. They don’t just put up company values for the sake of having them, they spend unheard of amounts of time on the minute details of their core values and mission statement.

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2. They ACTUALLY live their values. They make themselves participants in the space.

These organizations and the people who run them put actions behind their words, both in their business actions and in their individual life choices. They create a degree of openness and consciousness where every employee, every volunteer, every staff member becomes an integral part of the community, a necessary component to the space.

For example, in calling itself a “people incubator,” StartingBloc organizers treat each other and all volunteers with the same degree of respect and consideration that they do each candidate and fellow. Volunteers and mentors are going through a process of learning just as valuable and life-changing as candidates themselves. The leaders of the organization understand that if you are going to create a space for others to connect authentically, you have to set the tone through your own actions first.

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3. They’re in it for the long haul. They follow up, turn interactions to relationships.

These organizations all have an incredible talent for emphasizing the need for accountability and the supportive nature of relationships as opposed to surface level, routine interactions that provide little value and large amounts of stress.

Instead of feeling like you “have to keep in touch,” as a member of these communities you follow up with other members through shared experience that can be either social or business.

You start ventures together, become partners, go out for coffee or drinks, meetup in cities across the world. You create lasting, learning relationships that help you grow upwards instead of tying you down with obligation.

Perhaps the most powerful benefit of all, these groups design circumstances that facilitate taking the intention of the event into relationships and interactions far beyond.

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It is because of these intentional spaces (and the wonderful organizations that created them) that I have learned the value of adding a higher degree of intention and mindful design to my own life, and I look forward to learning more and more about these communities as they grow and develop.

Please post a comment or message me about any other examples of intentional spaces that you know and love!

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Until next time,

xxx,

Shira Bee

Categories: ALL Entries, Life Lessons, Social Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

(He)art & Soul

Major or minor, epic or commonplace, the arts are the works of the spirit. They are acts of love that unite and “spiritualize” our lives.

- Laurence G Boldt in Zen and the art of making a living

A Chat with a Gallerina

A couple of nights ago I had a wonderful discussion about art with my good friend Jacki Glick, a girl with fascinating experience as a “gallerina” and inspiring dreams for sharing her experiences with the world. With a background in public relations, production, and media, Jacki has big plans to establish new forums for connecting the general public to the “exclusive” world of fine art. She explained to me the sad situation that many of us find ourselves in today, disconnected from the idea of art and contemporary artists:

We tend to imagine current artists as fitting with the cliche of the “struggling artist,”  too out of touch with reality to get a “real” job and drowning in a self-indicted pool of depression, self-pity, and disillusionment. We are more inclined to purchase prints of artists long-passed and of wolrd-wide popularity, rather than supporting local artists with incredible talent. We go on far-reaching trips across the globe to acquire overpriced prints, when art bought for our homes could instead be representative of who we are and where we find meaning in life.

While I am a huge art history fan and love learning about the incredible artists of the past, I have come to realize (with Jacki’s help!) that there is a large gap in the way we connect to art and living artists today. In acknowledging this misguided image of local and contemporary art, I see tremendous opportunity for redefining the role of art in my life, and using it as a medium to connect to deeper meaning and engagement.

Murals, Activism, & Youth Engagement in Brooklyn

Groundswell Community Mural Project, an organization I had the pleasure of exploring while I was in Brooklyn last month, is a perfect example of using art as a gateway to meaning and connection. By collaboratively building mural pieces they “beautify neighborhoods, engage youth in societal and personal transformation, and give expression to ideas and perspectives that are underrepresented in the public dialogue.”

Groundswell Mural Projects

Groundswell combines the efforts of disadvantaged youth in the local area, professional artists, and causes of social activism to produce beautiful murals that adorn the walls of the Brooklyn community buildings. Talk about innovative methods of youth engagement in policy and activism! (see previous post)

A Great Read!

In Zen and the art of making a living, Laurence G Boldt explains that using art, as Groundswell does so effectively, allows us to connect to a deeper universal aspect of humanity. By appreciating the role of art as a tool for this deep connection, we can experience the world of fine art that Jacki described and bring its beauty into our everyday activities and experiences.

Real art appreciation will produce not only more and better contemplative or “fine” artists but also better carpenters, nurses, scientists, teachers, humanitarians, and entrepreneurs, and most importantly, better (more awake) human beings. Art is for the sake of the living everywhere. It’s lessons, traditions, and revelations belong to us all.

In appreciating the place of art in life, (or as life itself), we can more closely connect to contemporary artists and locally-produced art, and develop new ideas for using art as a medium for change and engagement.

In creating this post I have been inspired to redefine the role of art in my own life, and I hope that for all readers out there (if there are any!) reading it will do the same. Would love to hear any comments or suggestions about related art projects, ideas, and other beautiful examples of creativity and connection.

Until next time,

xxx

Shira Bee

Categories: Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

About the People

Taylor Jo Isenberg

In my recent visit to NYC, I spent some time talking to Taylor Jo Isenberg, my incredible teammate from the StartingBloc Case Challenge (Go team!)

Within the first few minutes of meeting Taylor you learn a few things:

1. She talks pretty fast.

2. She knows her stuff - Taylor is absolutely brilliant when it comes to understanding the world of policy and social enterprise, and has a unique perspective on the way these two fields are connected.

3. She ‘s incredibly warm, has a huge smile, and is always happy to help in any way that she can.

4. She loves North Carolina.

As the newly appointed National Director for the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, Taylor works with students on “results-driven, creative problem solving” in the field of public policy.  Sitting with Taylor in a small coffee shop in NYC, I had my first (somewhat-official) point of connection, as we discussed public policy and its place in the future of our generation.

Continue reading

Categories: Public Policy, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sparks of Inspiration: Summit Series, StartingBloc, and Sarah Kay

Before I begin posting about my travels & exciting thoughts & ideas I’ve come across so far, I would like to give a shout-out to the various influences over the past few months that brought me to this path, and piqued my interest in the concept of connection:

1. Summit Series

As anyone who has attended a Summit Series event knows, these people are basically pro’s when it comes to this whole idea of connection. Not only are they a group of incredible individuals open to connecting with anyone on a personal level, the team at Summit seem to have a magical knack for creating events where attendees feel a deeper connection to each other and their own personal goals than many of them have ever experienced before. Anneke Jong even calls Summit Series “the greatest accelerator and incubator of friendships in the world.”

My relationship with the team at Summit Series began with my reputation as “the girl who just showed up,” after I literally just showed up unannounced on the doorstep of their house in Malibu one day in early January. Without going into full story-telling mode,  I became the girl who interned with them for a week, staffed the Basecamp event in Tahoe, and recently has been working on small projects with them in a few other cities.

In working with the Summit team I not only learned a couple (or maybe more than a couple) of key tips on creating these connections, I also found myself personally feeling connected to everyone around me on a much deeper level, including the team, event staff, and a few attendees, allowing for incredible conversations and an overwhelming amount of  thought-provoking ideas. Still trying to wrap my head around exactly how they do what they do at Summit, but Basecamp was probably the first big event that got me thinking specifically about the connections I make in life, and how meaningful they can be.

2. StartingBloc (LA ’12!)

Oh StartingBloc, words cannot express how much I love you. But seriously, attending the StartingBloc LA ’12 Institute in Santa Monica, California, was definitely one of the most influential events of my life. I have never felt that much love for a group of 90 people before (many of which I have yet to get to know!), and I cannot commend the StartingBloc team enough for creating this incredible space that is the Institute for Social Innovation.

While Summit Series got me a bit hooked on the concept of connecting in theory, StartingBloc provided me with the perfect avenue for action. I connected with people who continue to leave me in awe each and every day with their incredible dreams and the way they just seem to make things happen. After feeling the crazy-connectedness of the amazing class of LA ’12 fellows, and with the advice of a couple of key friends at the Institute, I realized that it was time for me to start a journey to explore these ideas further. Looks like I’m finally following through on my sticky note goal, thanks to all of the fellows who have been holding me accountable!

3. Sarah Kay & Other Reasons I’m obsessed with “Getting to Point B”

  1.  The letter “B” has it’s own degree of importance to me as it has been a part of my nickname growing up, Shira Bee (which has recently resurfaced amongst my close friends).
  2. The concept of going from point A to point B: a journey, an expedition to find an answer. I also love the double meaning of the sound “bee” – both the letter and the verb to “be,” which can bring us into a whole philosophical discussion about the idea of going on a journey to “be,” rather than to reach any particular destination.
  3. The theme/title of one of my favorite TED Talks by Sarah Kay (if you haven’t seen it you should check it out, NOW/right after you finish reading!)

She begins,

“If I should have a daughter, instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me….”

And that’s exactly it, we can always find a way back to Point B (or “Be”). It’s home base. It’s our history, where we come from and where we’re going all at the same time.

In later posts I will likely go into a bit more detail about Summit Series and StartingBloc individually, as they are clearly relevant to my journey both on a personal level and a more practical one. In the meantime I’m going to move on to some posts about the incredible conversations & interviews I’ve been having lately around the theme of connection. Look out for some LA 12′ fellows, some NYC change-makers, and some great summit staffers to come!

Until next time,

xxx

Shira Bee

Categories: Uncategorized, Why Connection? | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On a personal note, happiness.

In my first post I explained (in a fairly structured way) why I have chosen to embark on this journey of connection. And in the next post I plan to explain more directly where my inspiration came from to focus on this particular path, including the influences of Summit Series and StartingBloc.

But to add a new dimension, on a more personal note, I would like to complete at least one post that expresses why I feel so attached to this journey, and why I feel so strongly that this is exactly where my heart is right now. (Another goal in starting this blog is to increase my own degree of openness and honesty, so here it goes…)

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Categories: Uncategorized, Why Connection? | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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