Something cool happened this week. But it’s not the kind of thing I normally share because I was part of it. For those who have followed this blog over the past five years, you’ll know that I devote this space to writing about those who inspire me as they create a world that moves forward rather than hard to the political right and left. And today, I write about something I am involved in that will help move the world forward, together.
On Monday I stood among some folks that inspired me on that path moving forward. I was part of launching ManyOne, a scholarship that sends bi-partisan legislators from my home state of Minnesota into a leadership experience and into the growing community around it who call themselves Studio/E.
I am a co-founder of Studio/E and as such I need to fill you in on it. Studio/E is a community of leaders from just about every sector who join cohorts and learn how to explore, launch and navigate new ideas with an entrepreneurial mindset and effective practices that get people unstuck. Our membership reads like a bad bar joke: what do you get when you put a CEO, doctor, poet, rabbi, minister, artist, lawyer together? Yep, our folks come from just about every walk of life.
And when they do walk through the doors, they drop their labels and begin to learn their way forward in a rapidly changing world; a world that they all want to make better and more prosperous. Studio/E folks aren’t their titles, their education, their religion, their lifestyles or even their politics. It’s a place of first names and generous and generative thinking.
Over the past three years, I’ve been partnering with some very important people to me with the aim of ensuring that we have a steady presence of law makers – the very folks who live in one of the most labeled up environments we have. And too often it is stuck. Very stuck.
Dean Phillips of the Phillips Family Foundation and Sean Kershaw of the Citizens League run two remarkable (and remarkably effective) organizations, and along with my partner in crime at Studio/E, Tom Wiese, we have launched a mechanism to sustain their presence, grow this community of legislative leaders and bring them under a common banner that represents their common interest, their common way of learning and their common operating culture. I believe in the uncommonly good promise of their possibility. My legislative friends are called ManyOne, named after E Pluribus Unum: “out of many, one,” which spans the Seal of the United States.
It’s important for me to note that these wonderful folks have not abandoned their parties, philosophies or strongly-held views. This isn’t about ending disagreements and finding the middle. ManyOne is about something additional, something more simple and timeless.
ManyOne members, like those in the greater Studio/E family, believe that if your job is to learn faster rather than do what you currently do harder, then you better not hang out with folks who know what you know. Broader views rather than narrow vision wins the day. And that’s true in every sector.
I know, I know. The idea of taking democrats and republicans, helping them get to know one another personally, and then throwing them into a greater group of leaders where they all learn how to create new approaches to needs, opportunities and challenges sounds awfully dangerous. Dangerous enough for me to write about it here.
But again, Naked Civics is and always will be about people who inspire me. My heartfelt thanks go out to Dean, Sean, Tom, the hundreds of people in my Studio/E family, and especially my legislative ManyOne friends who have chosen a path of learning so we can move forward. Together.