Sunday, January 18, 2015

I call dibs

Posted By on Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 7:33 AM

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On a weekly basis, I am thrilled — sometimes overwhelmed — by the high level of creativity and entrepreneurship of the citizens of the Pikes Peak region. We have a lot, and I mean A LOT, of great ideas coming from good folks thinking about the future of our community. Whether it’s an original idea or a translated success from somewhere else, ideas are plentiful in Colorado Springs.

Some of these ideas and dreams come to fruition — EpiCentral Co-Working and the Ivywild School redevelopment for example — and we need to celebrate as we experience their success. But of course there are other ideas that fall apart or just stay stagnant.

Misplaced regulations, financial issues, time and a lack of patience slow progress or dismantle ideas entirely. But from my experience, progress is most often affected by the unwillingness to collaborate out of fear that the wrong people could be detrimental to fulfilling an idea or dream. Really, it’s more of a matter of "having dibs" and being too stubborn to even consider collaboration, than anything else. I have witnessed plenty of ideas die on the vine due to "dibs.”

How many projects did you get excited about that were going to be revolutionary, yet are still in the fundraising process or in the planning phase? Although it's true that large projects take a while to get through jurisdictional hoops and fundraising efforts, some are literally decades in the works. It’s frustrating. Keeping it G-rated, as my father used to say, "Poop or get off the pot!"

I’ll give you an example of “dibs.” I was asked by a couple of friends — who continue to be passionate through adversity to “bring the Springs back to the Springs” — to participate in the Sustainababes calendar. (Before you get too excited, this isn’t a cliché calendar of models, but a calendar of individuals working for the future of our community in different aspects.) Every dollar raised goes to help the effort to revitalize Tahama Springs, a natural spring in Monument Valley Park. It would only make sense that Colorado Springs actually has a natural spring, right?!

RestoreTahama.com includes beautiful illustrations of the celebratory structures that were once encompassing Tahama Springs. My friends sought to get this reconstructed, exploring if there was still water and researching the history of it. (Turns out that not only is there water, the spring is still actively producing approximately two gallons per minute!) Then my friends found a group already in place to achieve the common goal — excellent, right? Perhaps just good …

As I understand it, my friends were shunned for what seems to be "dibs" on the project. I know my friends well enough to know that they are very collaborative and their heart is there for our community. The idea that resonates with me is “collaboration and community, not credit and control.”

My friends are good people and still want this restoration to happen despite the unwillingness to collaborate. The fundraising is still in place and they’re forging ahead, giving all proceeds raised to the effort without caveats and regardless of the other group.

The point of the story is that often times, this notion of “dibs” kills a project. Sometimes we’re so passionate about something that the attitude of pride and the need to be involved gets in the way of progress. We need to reflect and think about what is really important; is it that progress happens, or that we're involved? The answer is simple: Progress. There always needs to be progress!

I'll end with the sentiment that I left with from the 50 Ideas | 5 Minutes Ignite presentation I attended in the fall: Ideas are great, but action is better. In other words, don't be an Idea Hoarder, put your thoughts out there. If we all keep our ideas to ourselves, they're unlikely to happen. That seems like a disservice to any and everyone who would have been able to enjoy it.

If you would like to help put the Springs back into the Springs you can purchase a calendar from Hunt or Gather at the Ivywild School or Poor Richard’s Books and Gifts, or you can donate to the cause through the Pikes Peak Community Foundation.

John Olson is a licensed landscape architect residing in Colorado Springs. He serves as the Director of Planning and Landscape Architecture for EVstudio Planning & Civil Engineering. He is also a co-founder of Colorado Springs Urban Intervention, which implemented Better Block Pikes Peak in 2012, the recent Walkability Signage found in Downtown Colorado Springs, and perhaps most notably, Curbside Cuisine.

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