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May 5, 2020

con·​nect 

| \ kə-ˈnekt. intransitive verb. to become joined

With so much time online these days, when 5PM hits, the first thing I want to do is unplug the computer, phone, iPad, and pretty much any form of technology. At a certain point every day, I would much rather pursue some digital disconnection time. 

As a child, I didn’t have the luxury of laptop, cell phone or credit card at my disposal to purchase airplane tickets on a whim.  Instead, I had the Encyclopedia Britannica, my homeschool pen pals and community service Saturdays at the hospital or senior living centre.

In fact, one of the many benefits of COVID-19 is that it has forced to revisit what life was like in the digital stone age. Not surprisingly, we’re seeing increased use of walking trails, bike paths, an uptick of at home pool time and rising board game sales.  (I still am not over my two-week monopoly marathon circa 1998).

Inspired by Corey Davis of Maven Leadership Collective,  we’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking through how to cultivate sense of belonging within a virtual community. Indeed, belonging necessitates more than designing spaces that aspire for inclusion, access, diversity and equity. Instead, by mere definition, connection calls for two or more willing participants to come together and presupposes an open mind or natural inclination to disregard differences. 

After two months of gathering online via the #VCMVirtual platform, we’ve realized that social distancing  ≠ social isolation.    In fact, folks join week after week to combat social disconnection and loneliness. So this week, in honor of  10 Days of Connection, we’re sharing our guiding principals for making new connections plus a few activities that go hand in hand.

Tell Stories With Vulnerability

Eliminate small talk. Start with a story.  Usually the answer to a question that starts with why makes for an interesting result.  Like grade school show and tell, we open the doors for human connection and vulnerability in the stories we elect to share. This week, in the virtual café space, why not try our remote show and tell this week where we will share the meaning of our “why” behind a particular object, photo of value. 

Learn from the Other Side

From a lunch break with entrepreneurs in Rotterdam, to the Ask An Asian America conversation, to learning more about the founders of almost a dozen Overtown based businesses, this week’s #VCMVirtual connection themed lineup will offer an unique opportunity to build common ground with folks outside your typical network.  Conversation hacks like My Intent, Cultured Innovation’s Messages From the Heart and The Skin Deep THE { }AND cards are great prompts to learn more

Harness the Power of Shared Experience

As an alternative to Netflix, New World Symphony performances are available via streaming and Guitars of Guns is hosting LIVE experiences on your favorite social media platforms.  Behavioral economist and social psychologists alike surmise that shared experience both amplify positive emotions, create a sense of belong and satisfy a basic human needs as social creatures.  Conversely, research demonstrates that social disconnection is likely to trigger a physiological stress response, increase blood pressure, decrease restful sleep and spikes in cortisol and other hormones. Whatever your motivating factor is, this is the perfect week to reconnect with cultural experiences – even in the digital space.

Develop A New Skill

My quarantine to-do list not only includes spring cleaning and an ever-growing queue of home improvement projects, but right at the top are several new skills that I always claimed were too time consuming to learn.  Innovation City podcast’s new slate of featured innovators is full helpful lessons on building your venture with impact.  Plus, the Venture Mentoring Team will be online this for a special networking hour for founders to connect with mentors in the areas of Tech, consumer marketing, go-to-market strategy and operational design. 

Connect To New Spaces

You can still explore while keeping a safe distance.  And, I imagine there are parts of town that you’ve yet to take in– even during a drive-by.  What neighborhood will you venture to this week?  The New Tropic’s neighborhood guides or Culture Crusader’s hyper local focus on community cultural offerings during COVID-19.

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