We’ve all heard it in some form or another: build it and they will come. For communities, whether they are based online or in person, that is a flawed statement down to its very foundation. Unfortunately when it comes to building the community that you want, it requires leaders, stakeholders, and change agents who lead the change.
This year at Tech Cocktail’s Celebrate conference we heard from entrepreneurs, startups, automotive makers, and those making a difference in their community. One particular workshop led by Greg Tehven, cofounder of Emerging Prairie, really piqued my interest as I’ve spent much of my professional career focused on developing communities.
Tehven’s workshop was really a meta approach to understanding the stories he shared, which focused on accepting those around you and investing in the community you want. Between stories, Tehven encouraged attendees to share ideas, concepts, and experiences from their own community, and in most cases these conversations were held between strangers. During the workshop he focused on four specific areas: Educating your city, infuse the arts, build on your bright spots, and practice radical inclusivity.
For Tehven, he explained how the small town of Fargo, North Dakota, became a shining example of how to form and foster community. Based on his four principles, the community transitioned into one with a greater focus acceptance, culture, and creativity.
One of the more interesting examples he provided was tied to how we welcome people into a community. For those moving to a new area, attending a group or company for the first time, there often is not a lot of energy or effort put into helping them integrate and assimilate. However, when Misfit Inc. reached out to Tehven about hosting a conference in Fargo, he was provided with an opportunity to change the social norms.
Tehven: “Who are the people that are going to come?”
Misfit: “Well, they are misfits. They are artists, and beekeepers, and welders, and tech entrepreneurs. Would you ever help us host a conference?”
Tehven: “And I’m like, where is the company from?”
Misfit: “Well we’re nomadic, we travel around the world and we don’t have a place to live.”
Tehven: “And I thought to myself, do I accept this opportunity or do I not? And so we ended up helping host AJ and Melissa, who are the founders of Misfit Inc., to throw their first MisfitCon.”
The result? More than 150 misfits from all around the world embarked on Fargo. They were accepted into the community, and have been there for three years now. Those who attended are also starting to move to the area, all because they were provided a warm welcome and an opportunity to be involved locally.
On October 4-6, Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference is gathering hundreds of attendees, industry leaders, and inspiring speakers in downtown Vegas to meet the hottest startups and investors from around the country, learn and collaborate with others turning their communities into startup cities, and enjoy music, parties, and llama spotting. Check out more Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference coverage here.