“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead
In the past week, I’ve attended three incredible events. They were all completely different, but what made them all amazing was a common theme: PASSION. Each event was fueled by people who were passionate about not only what they did or where they lived, but more importantly what they shared with others.
The first event was last weeks Greenbuild 2009 at the Phoenix Convention Center. It was a huge conference, with almost 30,000 attendees from over 75 different counties and featuring Al Gore as the keynote speaker. While there were doubtless people in attendance simply for a trip to the warmth of Arizona, or for calculated business reason, most people were there because not only were they passionate about the environment and sustainability, but also sharing their great ideas and experiences with others.
The second event was on Saturday night. It was the annual fundraiser for the Grandview Neighborhood Association, the neighborhood where I live. Grandview is a uptown Phoenix neighborhood built in the 1950s. It is a diverse neighborhood, composed of residents from diverse backgrounds, ages, incomes, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Yet we share a common passion for our neighborhood and want to help improve it. This event showed how not only the residents of a neighborhood, but also its local businesses, can come together to help a community.
Finally, on Sunday I attended the second day of PodCamp AZ, a ‘relevant media unconference.’ Basically it is a two-day gathering of a few hundred social media enthusiasts. Participants come from not only across Arizona, but also states like California, Connecticut and Colorado. While the was a diversity in terms of professions, experience and expectations, there was a shared passion for social media and its power, not only to make money, but to build community.
In reflecting on these events, I realized that the common element in all three was community. Each event was able to tap into people’s passion for a topic or place and use it to strengthen a community. Moreover, these events served as a reminder of the interdependence of community and passion. Without a community, a passionate person is little more than an eccentric; without passion, a community is nothing more than a crowd of people. However, when passion and community come together, the combination is extremely potent; potent enough to change the world.