One of the great Calvin & Hobbes cartoons shows an agitated Calvin with a ‘connect the dots’ book. He is upset that he is forced to create a duck out of the dots. “My natural artistic talent has been used against my will to create some corporate entity’s crude idea of waterfowl. Hobbes responds, “Another blow to creative integrity.”
Calvin replies, “from now on, I’ll connect the dots my own way.”
That’s the essence of BIF-8 and all the ones that came before it. Saul Kaplan, the Chief Catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory and the host of annual BIF collaborative summit said, “we don’t anticipate themes, we simply bring interesting people to the dinner table set for 350.”
Kaplan continues: “It’s up to each of us to discern the patterns relevant to us. Pattern discovery is a joyful process and integral to the magic.”
So the sell-out crowd is connecting the dots their own way.
But I have found a consistent theme in the six years I’ve been attending BIF. The storyteller-innovators have all possessed and been possessed by passion. It’s the kind of cauldron in the belly kind of passion that overcomes all obstacles real and imagined.
Like Dries Buytaert, who turned a passion for code into Drupal – an open source software used by 1.5 million websites including Twitter, Sony and the New York State Stock Exchange.
Or Darell Hammond whose early childhood experiences forged a desire to create playgrounds for kids who rarely see one. As co-founder and CEO of KaBOOM!, a non-profit that helps communities build playgrounds in their neighborhoods. With the help of over a million volunteers, the organization has transformed over 2117 playplaces.
“Play should be a part of our children’s days, everyday,” says Hammond. “For that to happen, we must recognize that play is not a luxury, but indeed a necessity.”
Or Nicholas Lowinger, a precocious eight-grader who turned a Bar Mitzvah project that turned into a non-profit organization (Gotta Have Sole) that has to date raised over $250,000 in monetary and footwear donations so that homeless children in shelters could have new sneakers to wear
And Hillary Salmons, who turned a least favorite time in her life (middle school) into dynamic program for middle school students in Providence called After Zone. As Executive Director of Providence After School Alliance, she has been a catalyst for helping create a wide range of creative, intellectual, and physical activities provided by over 80 different partners.
Yes, the dots may be different. But the theme is passion with a purpose. And the result has been a transformation in people and communities.
That’s a theme that inspires and connects us all.