This past week a group of people gathered at a local eatery where I live in Staunton, VA— George Bowers Grocery— to talk about ideas. Unusual, innovative, creative, ODD ideas. The gathering, dubbed “Odd Thursdays,” was the brainchild of the Staunton Creative Community Fund, a small micro-lending agency that provides education and support to small business and nonprofits in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
As I watched this mixture of mostly young (my older self one of a couple exceptions) professionals, artists & entrepreneurs mill about chatting, their varied passions mingling in conversation, I was struck by the sense of camaraderie and excitement at being invited to daylight their weird, different, slightly off-center ideas. My guess is these idealistic, creative folks often feel out-of -step with most of the world they are forced to live and work in, and being in the company of so many like-minds was very energizing and reaffirming.
But there was more to it than that. Getting all these odd, creative people together facilitates a very important part of the creative process. It allows what Steven Johnson describes in this video as a “collision of hunches” to happen. It initiates connectivity. Gatherings of this sort can turn half-ideas, crazy ideas, odd ideas into innovation. From that perspective, Odd Thursdays may just be the best business and social idea this little town has seen yet.