HUB Oakland held their first public gathering at their Pop-up location last night, an event which showed their unique “networking” approach: taking people out of their comfort zone to challenge conventional thinking, break down barriers and create meaningful relationships.
HUB Oakland is a co-working and community venture, bringing together a collaborative group of entrepreneurs, activists and mentors to create transformation. They offer tools and practices that can be applied to individuals, businesses and society as a whole. Sounds like new age rhetoric? Not so much. These guys are delivering upon their message and their first event set the tone.
Sonoma State University’s Integral Center for Diversity, Vitality and Creativity was invited to speak about their on campus “HUB”–short for Honoring. Uniting. Building (not connected with HUB Oakland). The basic principles bring together siloed university “youth” groups to generate ideas that can be shared and built upon. The result – not only a fascinating course structure – but an empowered, creative and productive community working collaboratively to make a broader impact.
The Integral Center’s methodologies are centered around “Integral” principles, using greater awareness of ourselves, each other and the spaces we occupy to shape decision making. The ripple effects are being felt…as departments and faculty within the broader academic network scramble to learn how similar techniques can be applied for their own practical teaching.
I, along with many others, came to HUB Oakland’s first event expecting a lecture format…to anonymously sit and observe the lastest new trend in social thinking…a bit self congratulatory for being part of an elite bunch of curious changemakers. WRONG.
Very quickly the audience was shaken from a passive stance and involved in a group meditation exercise…aiming to shed the noise of our busy day and ground ourselves in the present. At 7:30pm on a Friday night I was dubious about how much I could bring to a “participatory” event, let alone self-awareness.
From our group mindfulness exercise, we broke into “triads” – groups of three people who had never previously met. We were given three minutes for each of us to examine how our “ancestral legacy and burdens” have shaped how we see our own potential. Bloody hell. Not a small task…a seemingly absurd question to ponder over three minutes (let alone a lifetime).
Yet it was remarkable how, as each person talked, we were able to open up intrinsic insights of real consequence. Meditation techniques helped us to suspend disbelief, shirking our critical thinking in favor of being vulnerable amongst strangers.
Comments and discussion shared later with the group revealed that much of the audience were surprised by the openness and honesty in which people had related to each other. Labels, constructs and assumptions had been replaced by clarity, empathy and humanity.
It was exhilarating and surprising. Imagine the potential for similar techniques to be applied to business, branding, entrepreneurship and management consulting…HUB Oakland has. And they offer so much more.
Topping the evening off, Sonya Renee Taylor – masterful slam poet – brought the house down with her powerful storytelling.
HUB Oakland’s first event was unapologetically grassroots–held in a temporary location that will last as a homebase prior to moving to their uptown “palace”. But they can’t succeed alone. A bootstrapped organization needs investment. As a pioneering agent of change, offering vital transformative growth across many intersections, we can’t afford NOT to support them.