You know how it is when you go to a conference–not one with afternoons off for golf and shopping, but one filled with crowded sessions and challenging speakers? By the end, my head is always bursting with information, almost more than I can process as I head back to the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and the chance to implement what I have learned.
On the second day of the Council’s community foundations conference in San Francisco, Salim Ismail put my brain on overload as he took us all on a fast-paced journey into the future–a future that in so many ways is already here.
We saw the framework of our linear world expanded onto the global scale, where change comes in exponential growth and where the next discovery can happen twice as fast and at half the cost of the one before.
Salim mentioned prizes as a way that community foundations might harness this global and exponential element of change. We have already experienced one such example with Prize2theFuture, an online idea contest launched in January 2011 as the first investment from Community Catalyst Funds. Instead of the 300 participants we hoped for, we had just under 3,000, and ultimately 1,115 ideas were submitted by individuals and teams for the best way to transform a city block in downtown Birmingham.
Prize2theFuture gave us an exciting and challenging opportunity to listen to our community in a new way, and we look forward to doing it again. In the meantime, I’m trying to wrap my head around the potential for amazing changes in the nature of what it means to be human and to live in community with one another.
Thank you, Salim and others, for reshaping our perception of reality. My brain may have exploded, but I trust that its neurological pathways have been reshaped for the better.
Emily Jones Rushing is director of communications at the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.