Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sponsor Spotlight: Works Progress + Ben Shardlow

The Minnesota Rising 2011 Un/Conference: Building A Network For What’s Next will be held on Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 10:00AM – 4:00PM at the CoCo coworking and collaborative space in St. Paul, MN. Hosted by and for emerging leaders, the Un/Conference will engage emerging leaders across Minnesota in an energizing day of innovative learning and dialogue, skill-building, and network-building with their peers!

We're pleased to place a spotlight on the 2011 sponsors and supporters that are making this year's Un/Conference possible! In this post, we feature the ruminations of Ben Shardlow, the co-founder and host of Give & Take, a program of Works Progress. Raised by an urban planner and an English teacher, he's interested in physical and social aspects of community, and how we communicate with one another in the communities we choose. His work is informed by professional experience in social science research and real estate development.'s 2008 Most Eligible Bachelor, Ben lives in Saint Paul with his wife Kristin and their Blue Tick Coonhound, Harper.

Works Progress is a network of creative collaborators. We design multi-disciplinary events, programs and exhibits that inspire, inform and connect—fostering new relationships that cross creative and cultural boundaries. If you’re familiar with our events, you know that many have an unscripted quality that leads to some unexpected turns. What does that have to do with the Un/Conference? Read on.

One of my favorite surprises happened at the Give & Take event we had in North Minneapolis this summer. We were midway through the presentations and games, and it was time for a Flash Presentation – an impromptu, crowdsourced, 2-3 minute talk by someone in the audience. The crowd discovered that someone in the audience knew about neuroscience, and they wouldn’t take no for an answer. He took a slew of questions on how the brain works, and all of us listened intently, riveted and surprised to learn more about ourselves.

We’ve all heard the statistic that a person only uses 10 percent of his or her brain. I don’t know for a fact if that’s true, I’m not a neuroscientist! But I do know that statistic feels extremely true for groups of people. The world has expanded and specialized and sped up, and we barely scratch the surface on uncovering all the connections between what we all know.We are surrounded by people with different perspectives and knowledge than our own, and the potential to leverage that diversity into new ways of thinking, relating, and organizing is immense.

That’s why Works Progress is thrilled to be serving as a sponsor for the Un/Conference. It’s a great opportunity for us to connect, imagine, and learn together. And, you know, get acquainted, hang out, and such. It’s going to be fun. We invite you to participate fully, and to learn more about what we’re up to at

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