Collaboration and the Need to
Tear Down the Walls
by: James Higa, Executive Director, PVF
A recent visit to the FabLab@School got me thinking about 'collaboration'.
Assistant Professor Paulo Blikstein's digital workshop at the Stanford School of Education is crammed full of laser-cutters, milling machines, 3D printers, and programming tools. It is one of more than 150 workshops scattered around the world that are accessible to inventors and entrepreneurs looking to tinker and create.
The FabLab@School works with high school students from East Palo Alto Academy. On my visit, students were working on a self-produced clay animation movie but with 3D printed characters and sets. Laughter, energy, and concentration filled the air. Wonderful things are happening here.
What struck me, however, was that it was hard to tell who were the high school students from the surrounding communities and who were the Stanford graduate students. There were simply groups of inventors, working together as equals, to just figure it out. Collaborating.
When the walls come down and there is a coming together, true collaboration begins.
High school and graduate students hard at work at Stanford's FabLab@School.
I don't see enough of this type of collaboration in our philanthropic space. In my short time in the philanthropy field, I have noticed that many organizations have an internal process of learning and seeking out new ideas and then presenting their fully-formed solutions to the community. Our communities are not at the table with us when ideas and solutions are being invented. We need to fix this and bring the spirit that is present at places like FabLab@School into philanthropy.
At PVF, we want to tear down the walls between communities, foundations, academia, social entrepreneurs, and find a way towards radical collaboration. Let's all sit and roll up our sleeves around the same lab bench. It is in this Commons where inventive innovation will take root.