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Positive Change in a Weekend of Work

Recently I paid an organization $40 to let me work my tail off for 54 hours straight. I know, I know - what kind of nut job did WOSU put on the air?

The event was called Startup Weekend and brought together a couple hundred highly motivated folks who were interested in seeing what it takes to startup a technology company in the matter of one weekend. From voting on an idea Friday night to a prototype product Sunday afternoon; 11 breakout groups managed to make some amazing things happen.

What made this experience worthwhile wasn't just walking away with a business or what I learned from people outside of my discipline. Those were benefits but what made this experience worthwhile was much bigger than that. Learning how much is possible when a group of people come together with a mindset that roadblocks don't exist, or are at best something to overcome, is powerful. Negativity was off the table. Possibility was our roadmap.

So how about applying this same sort of attitude to our daily lives? I have been fixated on this ever since walking out of TechColumbus at the end of that Sunday. I mean; Hey! Positive impact on your community may be a mere 54 hours away!

Most people you talk with will gladly share their opinion about one (or many) community issues they hope would change. I suggest we take that potential for change and turn it into action. Instead of Startup Weekend for tech company upstarts what about giving highly motivate people the opportunity to Startup Community?

The initial lure of the event was the ability to learn how to startup a company and network with other like minded people. Would the same sort of lure work to attract talented people to tackle community issues? I believe it would.

Already highly motivated young people are coming together in online communities, finding ways to harness their talents to make their local communities better; to shape them in a way that fits with their lives. Look at these recent facts: Columbus ranked 6th in the nation for volunteerism and 8th for connecting to each other online. The next logical step would be to get the business and civic leaders in the same room with these young and young at heart change makers to give them the power to make an even larger positive impact.

The impact wouldn't just be the tangible community improvements. The impact would include a morale boost to everyone involved, the opportunity to learn about your fellow residents and peers, and most importantly a new positive outlook on your locale. Throw in some business advertisement and tax breaks and what more could you ask for? All for a mere $40 and 54 hours.

Call me crazy, but knowing what I know now about the impact this event had on my perspective - especially the potential impact that could come to my community - I feel like I got one heck of a deal paying $40 to work my weekend away.

Andrew Miller hosts the blog Elephants on Bicycles.