Circle of Collaboration

 In Inequality Gap, Invention Hub

by: James Higa, Executive Director

In previous issues of  our ‘Progress’ newsletter, I discussed the growing Inequality Gap and how PVF wants to catalyze ‘Radical Collaboration’ to create solutions.  Today, I want to talk about how we have put that into action as is our wont to ‘do’, rather than ‘talk’.

PVF's Executive Director, James Higa (left), and Not for Sale's President, David Batstone (right), inspire some brainstorming at the Invention Circle.

PVF’s Executive Director, James Higa (left), and Not for Sale’s President, David Batstone (right), kick off the Invention Circle.

On June 6, jointly with our fantastic Invention Hub collaborators, Not For Sale & Just Business, we invited 50 of the Bay Area’s most creative and influential individuals that we know to gather together for an Invention Circle.  The Invention Circle is a gathering to bring radical collaborators together to help create solutions for those being left behind in our communities by the growing Inequality Gap.  This wasn’t about just brainstorming or convening. We promised to put into action, the idea that emerges out of the day, with a commitment to begin working on the project the Monday immediately following the event.

These 50 people included high tech executives, athletes & team owners, journalists, film makers, venture capitalists, grassroots community organizers, chefs, real estate developers, lawyers, SF City officials, and more. Collectively, this Invention Circle group:

  • has founded more than 50 companies
  • is on the board of directors or advisers for more than 90 businesses or nonprofits
  • has more than 30 patents
  • and has had 1,000+ articles published and produced 5 films
PVF's President, Bill Somerville collaborates with the "risk takers" group at the Invention Circle.

PVF’s President, Bill Somerville (center), collaborates with the “risk takers” group at the Invention Circle.

The day was full of design thinking at its best as we split up into groups to refine and hone our brainstorms.  My strongest impression of the day is a room alive with bursts of energy and post-it note ideas covering every bit of free space.  After presentations by our six groups, the idea we decided to implement (pitched by PVF’s own summer intern, Sadia Saifuddin!), was to launch a co-packing company.  A contract packing company, or co-packer, is a company that packages products and foods for their clients.  In our case the clients will be the emerging maker, craft, food, and artisanal companies of San Francisco.  The employees will be those in our communities left behind by the Inequality Gap who will now have an opportunity for dignified work in a company they can be a part of from its launch and creation.  This winning idea was introduced to the world at a San Francisco Giants game the next day in a home plate ceremony.  We are already gathering funders and looking at spaces to house this company.

The fruits of radical collaboration, an idea of this ambition and imagination, are extraordinary.  But so is the way that this vision came about in a circle of collaboration, bringing together people and ideas that wouldn’t otherwise intersect.  At PVF, we believe our activist mission is to actively create the future of philanthropy by taking risks and trying out new grant making approaches.  We continually look for people and projects performing ground breaking work in our communities.  The Invention Circle is just such an approach.

Stay tuned to this space.

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