Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

A New Chapter for the Imagination Age: Science House

June 14th, 2011

The view, from any perspective, is always spectacular from Science House.

In February, I gave a talk about the Imagination Age at Science House in NYC. Something happened that night. I haven’t told you about it in detail yet, in part because the arc of the story is so wide that every time I start I realize I can only tell a part of it.

So here are the basics--starting that first night.

Science House has a banquet table laden with sushi, chocolate and refreshments, set amid river-to-river views of Manhattan, with a set of binoculars on the wide windowsill. Those binoculars magnify the details of the urban landscape and the people who inhabit it so much that when I tore myself away I couldn’t tell which of the endless glittering windows, restored to their regular distance, held the lives of the peered-upon.

I put the binoculars down and took a seat next to Katelan Foisy, who extended me the invitation. We went around the room to introduce ourselves. In such situations, in a room full of strangers, I sometimes mention other facets of my work or life but I always say that I work toward a new global culture and economy in the Imagination Age.

This work has been developed individually and collaboratively by me and my collaborator Joshua Fouts. We have spent our entire careers and lives, in some way, shape or form, researching and exploring the most effective platforms, structures and core ideas on which to build a new global culture and economy.

When the founder of Science House, James Jorasch, introduced himself to the group, I learned that in addition to being a highly accomplished inventor, he’s a memory and chess champion and an improv comedian. The provocative conversation that evening was further bewitching, and I was done in by grasshopper brownies created for our pleasure by the Insomnibaker (AKA Megan Kingery, Science House Director of Operations).

As the night went on I realized that Science House successfully practices a complementary path to a new global culture (with science as a neutral foundation) and economy (by developing a strong global network and funding early stage science, technology and math startups). Additionally, the Science House Foundation works to spark the imaginations of kids all over the world by making science and math exciting.

Even the coasters at Science House are on a mission.

Longtime readers of the Imagination Age, or those of you who found us through the Imagination project, can imagine how excited I was to discover imagination at the heart of Science House. In subsequent conversations with James, it was evident that we were going to be working together...but in what capacity? If I went to work for Science House, my ongoing collaboration with Josh would have been cut short. Proving yet again that timing is everything, Science House’s first employee, the wonderful Gabi de Wit, decided to pursue her PhD and would no longer be running Science House Foundation.

I am now the Executive Vice President for Business Development at Science House and Josh is now the Executive Director of Science House Foundation. Science House never sleeps (and neither do I, which I now know since James handed me some equipment and advised me to start tracking my sleep cycles. But that’s another story).

The eight-year old me who learned about quarks when her father took her to his physics class at Columbia University is overjoyed that the story has gone in this Science House direction. Also, we have toys. Lots and lots of toys. And magnets.

James has noted the serendipity of finding not just one but two new members of the Science House team who already work together. I feel the same way about having found James, Megan and the rest of the Science House family. The rapport has been natural from the start. We have a lot of motivation to keep it this way--the kids whose imaginations get sparked today may grow up to start startups of their own.

In addition to the usual mix here at the Imagination Age, stay tuned for cross-posts from Inside Science House, snippets from my sleep diaries, videos of kids and robots and glimpses of the world through the lens of a microscope.

Thanks for being an ongoing part of this adventure!

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Categories: imagination age, joshua s fouts, rita j king, science house

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