Friday, September 9, 2011

Evanston Mash Up 2011: Dynamism and Innovation for the Taking

by Daniel Schiller

The news of late is enough to lead a thoughtful person to start gathering canned goods and seal windows against the winds of unprecedented challenge. The past three years have forced most of us to re-think the services we expect from our government, our career choices and the way we do business.

What a drag you say? Not necessarily. Each challenge we face individually has potential, and seasoned crisis managers never allow a good crisis to go to waste. That may seem an ersatz panacea, but looking to thrive in the future is required. Evanston business and civic leaders, with other Evanston stakeholders, will be discussing this and other issues at the Evanston Mash Up on Tuesday, September 13.

Since you are taking the time to read this blog, Evanston and its status as a hub of economic innovation and cultural leadership is likely important to you. This is a big role for any city, and few are able to foster this dynamic environment. There are even fewer cities that have a global research and educational institution (Northwestern University) within its borders. Just last week I heard a story on WBEZ about how universities are beginning to coordinate their development with the communities in which they reside. Maybe that’s a new idea in some cities, but it is a fully integrated practice in Evanston.

A second, but crucial element of the body politic is the resident brain trust. The creative class is drawn to Evanston, where they start and grow businesses, thus making for a thriving local start-up community. To address their unique challenges and needs savvy leaders have created infrastructure to build leading edge companies. This fostering of community ranges from the long-established, such as the Technology Innovation Center, aka The Incubator, to newer, but equally crucial, spots such as Creative Coworking and the late Coworking Evanston. Full disclosure, the latter is of particular interest to this guest blogger. Although I was not an official member, I did benefit mightily from association with Coworking Evanston. The entrepreneurs benefiting from the existing infrastructure established in Evanston are the very people who can write their own ticket in an economy starved for a specific kind of knowledge worker. While some of the infrastructure's architects have moved on to other endeavors (@alphabetum), the fact that I’m guest writing this piece and doing more business in Evanston is testament to the power of the connections made there. I’m writing from my first hand experience, and I’ve covered this topic previously.

If you live, work or study in Evanston, you are associating with the resident intelligentsia in one way or another. It may be at the library, at Whole Foods, at Brothers K or even an Evanston Chamber meeting. But Tuesday’s Evanston Mash Up is the chance to meet many of them—an impressive roster of top local business, cultural and civic leaders—in one night, in one place. If you are debating whether to join us, I invite you to consider the potential value of making connections.

An aside from Daniel...

I'm pleased to be posting my inaugural post on Evanston Live. I love writing, and try to do so on a regular basis and to address an array of topics.

By simply hanging out with the former Coworking Evanston brain trust I was able to meet many of the area's leading entrepreneurs. It is the self-starters and entrepreneurs that drive the dynamism and innovation that is so important to our local economy. Evanston is, after all, a special, dynamic spot.

In my work with a technology start-up (JasperLabs), and as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Communications at Roosevelt University, I emphasize the need to create communication solutions that work, and are tailored to each campaign or project, that are audience-centric.

Please be sure to tweet this, to connect with me (@danielschiller and LinkedIn), and our hosts here at @KRKring or @EvanstonLive.