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March 20, 2012

Is there a need for The Hub in Boulder?

All photos from elephant magazine’s feature article on the first Hub in London, some six years ago.

Just went to a schwank VIP community event.

Yes, that felt like a contradiction in terms. But it’s not…I guess. There are leaders of every community, and gathering them together is a natural way to galvanize the local masses.

Folks talked, a lot, about community…but I have to say that I’ve seen only a few of them around town, ever. Rich people talking about how to build community? Well, friends, it’s already here. Get out of your offices. Put away your wallets. Close your mouths. The first step towards community is participation, not talking, and certainly not talking about your success.

Seriously: at least two speakers, after crowing about who they are in a baldly advertorial, self-pleased, self-smiling way, went on to say it wasn’t about who we are as individuals, it’s about community.

Quote of the night: “I’m sick of the smell of coffee.” [laughter] We’re sick of working on our laptops in cafés, essentially. Well, sir, cafés are the third place. Look it up. So are book stores. Support them.

On the positive end: great people, good connections, ecoyummy food. Shine on.

~

Is there a need for The Hub in Boulder? Hell yes.

Are good people involved? Thankfully, yes. Greg, Corey, Tyler, the others I know less well…all good leaders.

But we have a choice: is The Hub going to be a forum for mutual flattery? Another club with makemefeelspecial events with cheese cubes on toothpicks and “I was at this amazing conference last weekend, were you?” players?

Or, as is the stated mission and vision, can the Boulder Hub be a place to bring together the richies and newbie entrepreneurs; eco-responsibility, a cosmopolitan sense of international interdependence and mentoring?

The vision of the Hub I fell in love with was a combination of open community yet strong container, a sort of half-cafe half-office super-child that might facilitate the organic connections that lead to business success and social-good innovation.

Does Boulder need a fancy Hub? We already have daily community in a way that I haven’t found in LA or even SF—partially due to our small geographic size and population. Boulder is a cosmopolitan city—folks flying in and out. New businesses born every month. Networking parties everywhere. Unscheduled meetings at cafes, on mountaintops, after yoga, or after climbing, or cycling, or at the farmers’ market or grocery store or church or over a farm-to-table lunch.

An eco-responsible, hip Hub based on local businesses and community could be built, right now, for next to nothing by way of investment. And yet, at this party, the announced total needed to create the Hub is $500,000. That’s no secret. They asked us to help give toward that amount.

The Hub is not merely a company to be invested in.

It’s more like a barnraising. Gather the wood, tools, friends and neighbors, and gather ’round. I accept that this needs to be, on some level, a top-down creation. But it also needs to be bottom-up.

Building a Hub community, like a barnraising, is an opportunity to engage in earth-shifting, society-strengthening, fun connection.

Sustainable business isn’t founded on debt, not in my generation. That’s old-school.

Still, a beautiful, Mike Moore-built Hub can be built by deep pockets. But money can’t buy us community. Perhaps, as with Obama’s 2008 campaign, we can learn more about these $500,000 dollars and where they’re going—and then launch a mass fundraising campaign for agreed-upon goals. With gifts as small as $20 or $50, as large as $50K or $100K, we’ll get there. I’d help.

But this isn’t about money, first. This is about how we launch an enterprise founded on community.

And for that, again, we need to open our minds, and close our mouths. Listen.

~

All photos from elephant magazine’s feature article on the first Hub in London, some six years ago.

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