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I always love the notion that Minnesota is a beacon for the rest of the nation in quality of life. I get a sense of affirmation for moving here and slogging it through the winters every time I read a new article that ranks the Twin Cities or Minnesota overall as one of the fittest, smartest, bike-friendliest, healthiest regions in the nation.
But, when it comes to reading about other states that are pioneering the collaborative movement, I’m not jealous. Rather, I feel inspired and motivated.
Last month, David Bornstein wrote two articles in the New York Times’ online “Fixes” section on collaborative public-private initiatives in cities and states nationwide that address large scale social problems “simply too complex to solve with any single approach.”
Imagine: You want to maintain a healthy diet, but you don’t have convenient access to grocery stores that provide a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, or you live and work where it is far easier to eat high calorie, high fat foods than to eat more nutritious alternatives. Regardless of your good intentions, you may gain weight, increase your blood pressure, develop diabetes, and die a premature death. That’s how social, economic, and other environmental factors influence your health.
In February, in collaboration with the InCommons initiative, we convened a gathering of people including public health workers, school administrators, and community organizers across the state who want to empower communities to take control of their health. We shared knowledge with one another about the issue, and we specifically looked at three initiatives.
It’s a pretty cool thing when you work with leaders who find inspiration for big ideas in pop culture.
The ability of “American Idol” to attract huge numbers of people to a hyped-up weekly talent show sparked the interest of our leaders at Minnesota Community Foundation.
This interest led to the pop-infused concept for the annual Minnesota Idea Open, which Minnesota Community Foundation launched last year.
Instead of singing contestants, the Idea Open shines a light on individuals statewide with a knack for belting out smart ideas that solve problems – and focuses the drama on the path a single idea travels to become a model for action that others can take.
Now that’s what I call high-energy excitement, Minnesota-style!
Last fall, that same concept expanded to InCommons, which launched its first-ever – and wildly successful – Collaboration Challenge on the InCommons website. With that introduction, InCommons became a new destination for leadership and thinking big. Similar to American Idol, anyone can show leadership.