By Connie Martinez, SVCREATES’ Chief Executive Officer
Being a cultural leader in Silicon Valley is not easy. The cultural sector faced many challenges before the pandemic, and we were not alone. Our region’s “old normal” has decades of systemic and structural flaws impacting every segment of our community. There is no one solution to Silicon Valley’s interdependent and complex problems.
Driving change has always been an uphill battle and many of us have been fighting for it for a long time. It is easy to be skeptical about the motivation of others and our ability to come together for the common good. Case in point, I was filled with doubt when asked to be on the Silicon Valley Recovery Roundtable (SVRR) — but I said yes anyway. And the process has proved me wrong.
How can 59 leaders come together and begin to move an “intractable” needle? It started with a shared set of facts and the framing of the issues. We then split into four categories of teams — reopening safely, ensuring equity, supporting small businesses, and driving innovation. Our work was to show up, engage in conversation, share our unique perspectives and ideas, and listen and challenge assumptions with an open heart. We were resourced with an exceptional team of consultants from Boston Consulting Group and facilitators from Stanford. It was a treat.
When we were done, we endorsed a set of recommendations released this week — “Building a Better Normal.”
Our sector was able to make the case for investing in our underemployed cultural workers by putting them back to work on projects of value to our community — a workforce and economic development initiative we are calling Silicon Valley’s Creative Corps. Stay tuned for more details!
Skeptics will say publishing a report is easy, implementation is hard. They are right. However, community solutions start with a shared knowledge and understanding fueled by caring for each other, and a belief that if any part of our community is underwater, we are all underwater — morally, financially, and culturally.
I believe the SVRR process of bringing leaders and their networks together created what the late John Gardner called a “network of responsibility” committed to driving change. This could be the moment that future generations point to as Silicon Valley’s reset, a change in course independent of one organization, one leader, one sector, or one solution but rather a course dependent on all of us. I hope I am right. Regardless, it is time to get to work.