Day 168: Table Talk

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June 16, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

Yesterday was remarkable.  I’m having an incredible time out west for at least a half-dozen reasons, almost all having to do with the people I’ve met and continue to meet at the StartUp Science conference.  The energy here should be bottled and sold – the atmosphere is invigorating, inspiring and electric.

My fellow attendants have so far impressed me not only with their visions for science done better, faster and stronger, but by the bold action they take to address problems and frustrations and differences of opinion, background, disposition they so candidly declare.  They know that things can be better, and are neither afraid to acknowledge the flaws they see in a long-lived, entrenched (and inflexible) scholarly system, nor hesitant to discuss, in honest, passionate and unrestrained terms, the sort of changes that they envision to correct and perfect the course of scientific advancement.  Every one of them I’ve met so far could rightfully be proclaimed as a bold thinker.

What startles me, though, is the amount of overlap in the work pursued by so many different people.  I think there’s strength in diversity – in different approaches to a shared problem – and that attacking an issue from a dozen angles will yield more than one effective solution, but I’m also a believer in working together to strengthen the assault.  I see two or three companies founded around the same principles, all frustrated by the same problems, separated by relatively minor details in their respective approaches, all vying to be  the market leader; I talk to eight different people from eight different countries about one subject that unites them, and I realize that if not for this meeting, these people might never have known that others shared both their grief and their vision for a better way forward.  It’s a testament to the importance of communication within the scientific community itself, and a reminder of how far we still have to evolve before proclaiming ourselves capable of comprehensive problem-solving.  We need to talk to each other, to share with each other fearlessly and without restraint – we need to bring it all to the table, lay our cards out and pour over them together, as a team, to determine what might work best.

There might not be a single answer, but somewhere between the eight solutions to a single (albeit complex) problem, there are mixed and matched alloys of the singular elements that are stronger together than they are apart.  Today’s project isn’t about science, but it most certainly knows the importance of communication within a group (like-minded or otherwise) to find strong answers to hefty problems.

Bring it to the Table is a webseries built on the notion that people speaking frankly can find common ground through fearless communication.  Empathy is an incredible tool in building understanding, trust and fellowship, and this series showcases the passion that unites even the most diverse groups of thinkers and activists against universally-recognizable issues.


http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/246621527/bring-it-to-the-table-0

Bring it to the Table is a participatory online platform, community engagement campaign, and a series of webisodes aimed at bridging political divides and elevating the national conversation. The project is for those who are tired of hyper-partisanship and want to steer political discourse back into the hands of the American people.

This show is a weapon against balkanization – a tool to build perspective and maybe common ground between people who would otherwise stand divided, separated in mind, if not location.  Opening minds isn’t easy, but it starts with opening mouths.  Be a part of this uncensorship movement by backing the show on Kickstarter before June 18.

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