"How far are you willing to go?" asked Dr. Gene Sharratt at the conclusion of the inaugural TEDx Wenatchee Valley event on Thursday afternoon. The them of the event was "Connecting the Dots," in reference to the habit of organizations and individuals to operate in silos rather than collaborate and cooperate.
The choice we face is whether we want to do something extraordinary or settle for much less and Sharratt encouraged us to adopt the Russell Wilson approach of "Why not us" when faced with the opportunity for high achievement.
The winning quarterback of the Super Bowl used a philosophy of working hard, staying humble and thinking big and that balanced approach should work just as well for our communities.
It was a day of thinking more creatively about the future of our valley. The crowd of more than 100 was energized and thinking of possibilities. It was the start of a conversation and so there was no groundbreaking achievement to report to you. Instead, what was encouraging was the level of enthusiasm among a very diverse group of people for taking on challenges and meeting them.
There's no question that in all sectors of our society, we could achieve more with less effort if we created opportunities to work together rather than operate in relative isolation. We see this in local governments, social service agencies and other organizations.
When he was superintendent of the North Central Educational Service District, Sharratt was a master of building partnerships, spreading opportunities for many to participate in worthwhile events. The vast majority of successful civic projects are based on a foundation of grass roots support rather than brilliance of individual leaders.
Here are a few highlights from the speakers:
Donte Quinine of Wenatchee Valley College talked about value of ordinary leaders rather than waiting for the next Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to walk by.
Dr. Peter Rutherford of Confluence Health challenged Wenatchee and East Wenatchee to start working towards collaboration in providing services to the valley.
Colin Brine, a consultant with Be Clearly, said important connections happen when people give their time freely and that those connections are the basis for a healthy community life.
Jeff Ostenson, of North 40 Productions, talked about the opportunity we have to market ourselves more effectively. He urged us to find our story, be authentic, find ways to engage with our target audiences and reward what they believe in.
Dr. Glenn Johnson, Cashmere School Superintendent, unveiled Cashmere Cares, an effort that invites the whole community to make sure every child is clothed, fed, has a mentor and is literate.
Entrepreneur Dave Sabey reminded us that the Columbia River has the potential to play a part for solutions to complex genetic diseases by harnessing the power to drive data centers and potentially bring the engineers who are studying the data to our region.
Nancy Warner of the Initiative for Rural Innovation and Stewardship reminded us of the power of building on successes by capturing the stories for posterity.
The discussion is just starting. The committee is gathering input and will look for specific projects and volunteers to begin connecting the dots and move our communities forward.
The sessions are worth watching. Those who were unable to see the event via live streaming will be able to search for the TEDx Wenatchee Valley event and watch the video.