People in my neighborhood: thinking big

I always enjoy passing by the new Gates Foundation campus.  I like the inspired architecture, the central location (in the shadow of the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project).  And I see it as Seattle’s own 21st century United Nations.

So it was nice to be invited for the official opening of the new Visitors Center.  I also attended a symposium on “Media & Storytelling.”  It’s laudable subject matter, though the event focused more on the now overplayed conversation of “how do we save journalism?”  I passed out copies of my Storyteller Uprising book to the organizers.  The Foundation intends to continue the series, and frankly, I think they should actually invite modern-day storytellers (and not just journalists) to truly explore what it means to tell stories and connect people to big ideas.

Even Melinda Gates in her welcoming remarks referenced the importance of “storytelling” in the Visitors Center’s exhibits.  She stressed the importance of authenticity, and welcomed debate from the visiting public (such as at the interactive climate change kiosk).  Check out GeekWire’s Todd Bishop on his impressions of the new venue (his head pictured above as he interviews Melinda’s husband, Bill).

Also invited to the Gates’ shindig, my old friend Hari Sreenivasan, now an online/on-air correspondent for PBS’ NewsHour.  Hari and I communed over Pagliacci pizza the night before on how he was pushing new  platforms for storytelling through PBS.  I hope he goes into academia one day, because he’s one smart dude.  And he’s as young as my (equally smart) brother.

Meanwhile back on UWTV, I met with John Haslam who runs the channel about a potential big deal Four Peaks show in April.  It could see us host a live episode (we haven’t had an audience since our November Pacific Science Center show on curiosity) — linked to a major event at the University of Washington.  If we go big with a venue, we’d probably go equally big with the stature of the guests that we would invite to explore the future of education.  I wonder if Melinda would join us?

I’ve already consulted with our graduate program’s Advisory Board, including Tim Fry (who supported our MCDM program so ably through Weber Shandwick’s CES outreach strategy) regarding the potential outreach benefits that such a major event could bring.  Ultimately, it fulfills my overall vision of  sharing compelling, relevant content with our (growing) community and inviting them to participate in this grand unfinished conversation.