Shared Experience & Building Community

At Elevate97, we create exceptional brand experiences. We wrap our arms around our client-partners established and often legendary brands, and we help them project their true essence further—through larger-than-life images, intriguing materials and the dimension of texture. We bring customers, guests and passers-by into their story across any number of spaces. Experiential design is a game changer for brands in connecting with people.

As I reflect on the concept of community and this one planet we live on (see my August 15 blog post), I realize that a shared experience is not only one of the most effective ways to build a brand, but also the best way to build community.

Building Community - Kids playing soccer in Ecuador

Four sticks and a ball? Game on!

As I shared earlier in this blog, my family and I recently traveled to South America. We focused our visit mostly on communities in Peru and along the Amazon River. I anticipated language would be somewhat of a barrier when interacting with the residents. The language in the areas we visited is based on Spanish, though it isn’t a dialect or version we might have learned in school. No words? That turned out to be no problem.

My son, who is eight, plays soccer, and he saw a ball. Pretty soon, he and local schoolchildren were playing soccer. Our guide, a naturalist who grew up on the Amazon and studied at a Peru university, shared his childhood experience and knowledge, explaining what a critical part of community soccer is for the local villages. Each village is small, perhaps 25 families, and fairly remote from the others. So the villages had the wisdom to arrange for a soccer game every week, to pull together the families together from across the villages. The guides on the boats also take part, playing against the local players. The game is foundational to their social life. It creates community. Make no mistake, it’s competitive.

And here’s the deal: all it takes are four sticks and a ball. No careful striping. No immense nets. No common language. Simply game on!

Let’s connect over coffee.

I’m a graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’m proud of my alma mater, and I stay connected to my college community. One way is through Global Brigades. Global Brigades travels to world communities that are lacking in basic needs: medical care, financial stability, clean water, self-sustainability. Students, such as those at Marquette University, raise money to offset their costs to travel to these communities and help with communities with their basic needs. About 18 months ago, I traveled with Global Brigades to El Zurzular, Honduras, to help the coffee farmers there find ways to be more productive and profitable. On this most recent trip with my family, I returned to visit the farmers.

Shared Experience - Meeting with coffee farmers in Honduras

They remembered me. They remembered me! I was overjoyed. They said, through our translator, “We want to tell you all we did since you were gone.”  They had taken the quality level of their coffee beans from a 2, which is extremely low, to a 6—on an 8-point scale. And they had plans to do even better: “We have hope, because you are here, that we can do better.” One of the farmers, in particular, showed me his hat. He had great pride in his hat because, he said, “I could buy this hat because I could sell my beans at a higher price per pound by learning how to increase the overall quality of my coffee beans.”

There I was with my daughter and my son, as they experienced the pride of the coffee farmers. What better lesson could I ever teach my children about having an impact and being part of this one planet we share?

We connected, despite geography and regardless of language, over coffee. Together, we created community that is foundational. It offers promise for the future.

Are you up for a challenge?

At Elevate97, we challenge one another regularly. It’s one of our values, because we believe that challenge is what creates the impetus for improvement. Having read this, I consider you part of our family, part of our team. And so my challenge to you is this:

How will you create community today? I would love to hear from you—to hear your story of community that builds foundation and promise.

2 Comments

  • Jen said on September 16, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story and message. I enjoyed having Jenny share the message at elevate97 today and reading your words online. I look forward to your continued message on this blog.

  • Melissa Borowicz said on October 7, 2016 at 2:52 am

    Way to go Kate! Keep inspiring, elevating and being you!

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