IDEALAB 2017: "Movement Makers" at the heart of change in Cincy and beyond

Cincinnati is known as a center for startup innovation. We have countless incubators, accelerators and philanthropic organizations that provide funding, guidance, a sense of community and a booming entrepreneurial ecosystem that's garnering national interest. 

We have thousands of “movement makers” here: entrepreneurs, small business owners and big thinkers who are taking their ideas and bringing them to fruition.

Our goal, along with The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S Bank Foundation, People’s Liberty and Soapbox's parent company, Issue Media Group, is to highlight those people and help them figure out how to take an idea — no matter how small — and make it happen. That’s why we’re hosting a second IDEALAB.Megan Trischler, People's Liberty (Provided)

“When you think about the word 'movement,' it means the opposite of being static,” says Megan Trischler of People’s Liberty. “Movement is life, movement is breath, movement is showing up in the world every day and choosing to be a part of things.”

There are many opportunities for people to get involved and do something about an issue they feel passionate about. You don’t have to be associated with a nonprofit or do something huge to take action on some level. Organizations and events like People’s Liberty and IDEALAB give people the voice to say, “I can do something.”

If you look at historical movements like abolitionism, women’s suffrage and the fight for civil rights, many were started by small groups of people committed to bringing about big, impactful change.

“IDEALAB is an uncovering tool,” says Trischler. “It points toward what’s already here in the community and how we can tap into those resources. When you get that number of people who elect to attend something for a day and invest their time and money into it, success starts to look more and more like people connecting and recognizing that it’s in coming together that we actually get stuff done.”

Creating movement, one idea at a time

People’s Liberty was founded in 2014 as a five-year philanthropic experiment to see if it could change the community by uncovering and investing in people.

“We like to say that we’re in the business of developing people,” says Trischler. “It’s not necessarily about programs or projects — those are byproducts.”

To date, People’s Liberty has awarded grants to 55 change agents — Haile Fellows receive $100,000 grants and project grantees receive $10,000 to bring their ideas to reality. In 2018, the organization is opening a second storefront in Camp Washington. Over the last two and a half years, People's Liberty has hired 25 early-career individuals for a three-month design/storytelling residency program.

People’s Liberty is now at its halfway point, and it’s celebrating in a big way. On Nov. 16, it will kick off a multi-week celebration, Intermission, to reflect on what’s been accomplished so far and to start the conversation on what’s still to come.

The public is invited to the celebration, which will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at People’s Liberty’s headquarters in Over-the-Rhine (Globe Building, 1805 Elm St). There will be food, drinks and good conversation.

In the weeks to follow, there will be 20 days of grantee and resident-led events and programming, including hour-long to day-long projects that will take place Nov. 17-Dec. 14 at the Globe. A full schedule of events can be found here.

What to expect at this year’s IDEALAB

Mordecai Cargill, keynote speaker from Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (Provided)Last year’s focus was people-powered philanthropy: we featured four organizations and their grantees and the relationship between the two. Attendees heard from The Kresge Foundation and Ponyride, both from Detroit; the Headwaters Foundation for Justice in Minneapolis and its inaugural Giving Project; Colorado-based nonprofit New Belgium Family Foundation and its grantee, Re:Vision; and Haile Foundation and CoSign Cincy.

Attendees were also taken off-site to three tour stops: Findlay Market, the Center for Great Neighborhoods in Covington and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. At each stop, leaders spoke about upcoming projects and partnerships that were creating positive outcomes for the community.

“Movement Makers” will highlight what it takes to design, build, grow and fund a movement. “It’s an interesting lens to look through, and it’s also a bit more applicable because there are more entry points for the audience to connect,” Trischler says.

This year, we’re building on last year’s model, taking best practices and lessons learned and expanding on attendees’ interaction with funders and talent leaders, encouraging more ideas with solutions as takeaways.Keynote Carl Atiya Swanson (Provided: Chris McDuffie Photography)

IDEALAB 2017 will feature three keynote speakers in the morning (Sean Mann, Detroit City FC; Carl Atiya Swanson, Springboard for the Arts; and Evelyn Burnett and Mordecai Cargill from Cleveland Neighborhood Progress), followed by an afternoon of facilitated sessions that attendees can choose to participate in, providing a process ecosystem.

Evelyn Burnett, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (Provided)Trischler says the idea for breakout sessions stems from other conferences. “There’s always this desire to be more than just an observer and really participate in something. We’re going to have these bright people all interested in what’s happening here, so we’re going to leverage their minds and get them inspired and influence their work.”

IDEALAB is rooted in the notion that everyone is capable of being part of a movement. The event is an invitation to participate, and leave inspired by the stories of others and with processes and techniques to then take home and implement within your neighborhood, community or organization.

This year’s IDEALAB takes place 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 4 at Memorial Hall. Tickets are $50, which includes morning presentations, lunch, afternoon workshops, refreshments and post-workshop networking with a cash bar. You can purchase your ticket here.

Stay tuned for profiles of the three keynote speakers and more information regarding the afternoon breakout sessions in the weeks to come.

IDEALAB: Movement Makers is presented by The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, People’s Liberty, Issue Media Group and Soapbox Media with support from Procter & Gamble, Xavier Center for Innovation, Memorial Hall and media sponsor Movers & Makers.

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Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.