Godin inspires, community celebrates at EntreFEST 2015

Or, what we learned in three packed days. The industrial age is over. And if EntreFEST is any indication, whatever new, yet-to-be-named age we are entering will be a lot of fun. “We’re fun, we’re weird, we have a lot of energy,” said Andy Stoll, EntreFEST’s co-producer and emcee, to a packed Englert Friday afternoon. “Welcome to the tribe.” The eight-year-old conference for startups, small business owners, corporate innovators and community builders brought about 1,000 people to downtown Iowa City for three days. There were more than 100 speakers, 90 breakouts and dozens of meetups, plus a rooftop fashion show, a pitch competition, street magic and an 87-year-old who trended on Twitter. It was all capped by Seth Godin, bestselling author of Linchpin, Tribes, Purple Cow and 15 other books. “Iowa is the center of the universe, if it wants to be,” Godin said. “I came because it was worth it.” The industrial age was based on doing things faster and cheaper, but today, Godin argued that strategy is “a race to the bottom.” Mass production means making average things for average people, but today fewer people want to be average, he said. “The problem with a race to the bottom is that you might win,” he added. In contrast, the “connection economy” will be based on four things, according to Godin: coordination, trust, permission and exchange of ideas. Then, generosity and art are the critical factors that can ignite the other four. Godin encouraged the audience to say “here, I made this” rather than “what do you want?” “Art is what we call it when we make change,”…
‘Makerspace for artists’ coming to Czech Village

‘Makerspace for artists’ coming to Czech Village

The Corridor has collaborative spaces for entrepreneurs, coders and builders, and by the end of the month, it will have one built for artists, too. The Artisan’s Sanctuary, at 45 16th Ave. SW, plans to open with a display of local photography by Czechtoberfest on Sept. 27. The project is being led by Jim Jacobmeyer, a former art teacher and longtime member of the New Bohemia neighborhood group. He saw a need in the community for studio space and shared resources for artists. “The arts are alive and vital - it’s a matter of sharing that inspiration and excitement,” he said. “Creativity can be an isolated thing sometimes.” The 6,000 square-foot space has sat vacant and gutted since the flood. Jacobmeyer plans to turn the front room into a small gallery, and the back into artists’ work stations and communal gathering space for classes and events. Artists will be able to rent private work space for $2 per square foot. There will be a few work benches and perhaps movable partitions before the opening, but for now, Jacobmeyer plans to keep it mostly empty. A governing board will be assembled with the founding artists, who will determine the best uses for the space as it is used. “We’re recruiting our artists to begin with, then they’ll decide how the space will be used,” he said. “Depending on what their medium is, the space will be designed accordingly.” The communal space could house shared resources, like large equipment, digital studio or classroom space, that community members could access with a membership at the Sanctuary. A local photographer has already donated film and darkroom...
Community building to bring ideas to life: Meet the Gang

Community building to bring ideas to life: Meet the Gang

You may not know “the gang,” but you probably know their work. It includes: Mission Creek Festival, an enormous (and ever-evolving) festival for music, food and the arts. The 10,000 hours show, which throws a giant concert to entice students to volunteer. Public Space One, an experimental and experiential arts venue in downtown Iowa City. The Iowa Youth Writing Project, which empowers youth throughout the state with words. Free movies on Friday nights. Free wireless Internet in downtown Iowa City. And many more. The group that helped bring these ideas to life, known as The James Gang, is hosting an open house on Sunday so everyone can “meet the gang.” The James Gang was founded in 2002 by a group of dreamers and social do-gooders, mostly centered around the University of Iowa. Today, the Gang continues as an umbrella organization designed to help facilitate ideas through community building. It gets its name from the philosopher William James, who was known for the philosophical tradition of pragmatism. “It’s really there to enable ideas to take life, to go from ideas to action,” said Ryan West, a board member of The James Gang. West joined The James Gang when he moved back to Iowa five years ago. There, he found a group of “kindred spirits” working on the types of creative projects he enjoyed on the east coast. (His wife, Amanda Styron-West, was one of the original founders of The James Gang.) The James Gang supports community building and social good projects by letting them work under it’s umbrella as a non-profit. For example, a local filmmaker worked through The James...