Big Art, Big Talk, Big Opportunity

bradenton_public_art_millennials_WEB.jpgHow often do really TALK to strangers?  I mean talk in a way that you get to know a person and connect on some level ... I believe that when people connect with each other in new places or in new ways, the social capital of a community grows, vibrancy builds, and lasting economic development goes forward.  Here's how it starts with a conversation.

I was watching this TEDx Talk the other day at lunch called "How to Skip the Small Talk and Connect with Anyone."  It hit me what a parallel track we're on here in Bradenton, Florida, with Realize Bradenton’s #SeeMeHearMe public art project.

First the TEDx Talk …  Kalina Silverman, a Millennial, described her journey of creating a project named “Big Talk.”  Basically the idea is to skip the small talk – about the weather, sports, and what-have-you – and get right to the BIG talk: priorities, dreams, life, connection, meaning.

The short video she made is very moving and I highly recommend you take 19 minutes and 41 seconds to watch it (when you’re done reading this post of course!).  Make sure you watch all the way to the end, it’s worth it!

Back to what we’re doing here in downtown Bradenton … When Realize Bradenton’s Pop-Ups for a Purpose project was awarded a Knight Cities Challenge grant last year, we set out to show how our community could attract and retain Millennials to live, work, and play.  What matters to the 18-34 crowd? What do they want? How do they make decisions?

Why not ask them?!

So the #RBPopUps team at Realize Bradenton set out to have this kind of “Big Talk” with Millennials in our area - asking them some of life’s big questions: What do you love to do so much that you lose track of time while doing it? What’s your next step? When have you felt the most a part of community in your life?

Their answers were surprising, thoughtful, and enlightening.  Take a moment to swim around in these interviews.  Read them.  Soak up their meaning.

If you are a Millennial, think about what resonated with you?  What surprised you? What would you like to add to the conversation? 

If you’re not between the ages of 18-34, think about people you know in this age group or your own experience, when you were at a stage of “newlys” in your adult life: newly graduated, new immigrant, newlyweds, new parents … What about these young peoples’ interviews felt familiar? What did you empathize with? What left you wanting to know more of their story?

I’d like to end with a question Kalina also posed: How can you take what you learned today to make your life – your perspective, your family, your workplace, your community – different tomorrow?