For months I’ve been waiting for the moment when I finally got to write a blog about the really, really, really big thing I’ve been doing at work this past year – my first year at Adobe. It’s the biggest thing I’ve taken on yet in my career, truly.
And now, the time has come. I’m cleared for takeoff to talk. I’ve written the blog.
I didn’t write it here, though. I wrote it on Adobe’s corporate site. And slightly differently on our internal employee blog (which you can’t see). And it’s all over our social media now. And I’m doing press interviews. And oh my god, doing big things for a huge company – big things that the huge company has never done before – is so exhausting.
I don’t know how I’m still standing right now. I really, honestly, don’t. I mean, a couple months ago I was actually having trouble standing up.
And yet, here I am. I guess I’m riding high on the fact that I’ve truly done this big thing. It’s real! And now as I’m telling people about it, I get to hear back from them what they think of it all. And what they think is actually making me tear up. It’s keeping me going.
It’s so refreshing to tear up over the feels and not just in frustration from banging my head against walls of procedure in a huge multi-national corporation!
SO! Here’s what it is, and how I told people about it, if you’re wondering (I’m just reposting my blog for Adobe because yo – I just don’t have another one in me right now…).
YOU BETTER BE WONDERING!
It’s a hard time to be an artist in San Francisco, harder than it’s ever been. A recent survey of 600 working artists by the San Francisco Arts Commission found that 70 percent had been, or were being, displaced from their workplace, home, or both. The other 30 percent were, not surprisingly, losing sleep over the threat.
Most of us here in the Bay Area have at least overheard the debate: who’s to blame for our skyrocketing housing costs and the growing disparity between working classes and the tech industry?
At Adobe, we occupy an interesting intersection in the debate. We are a technology company that makes products for creative people. The arts lie at the very center of many of the products we create. And we have the ability to leverage this position to contribute to solutions. We have to contribute to solutions, because the arts matter. They matter to technology. They matter anywhere innovation is taking place. There is no climate for creativity without them.
As Adobe’s Community Engagement Manager for Digital Media, it’s my job to build strong collaborations with the community around us. That means I think about San Francisco’s artists and what they’re going through, a lot. Last year, I started a conversation with the folks at the Minnesota Street Project. They’ve launched a brilliant new initiative to keep artists in the city and help them flourish. They took over three warehouses—over 100,000 square feet of space—in San Francisco’s historic Dogpatch neighborhood, and turned them into a hub for artists, art galleries and creative services. This first-of-its-kind project also includes collaborative workspace, special event space and even for-profit businesses. They are building a new kind of financially sustainable model for the arts in an expensive city, so the arts don’t just survive, but thrive. And they’re doing it right in Adobe’s backyard.
I knew right away that we had to be involved, but we had to do so with more than just money. So today, we’re unveiling a collaboration with the Minnesota Street Project, where we are sponsoring the artist studios program at 1240 Minnesota Street – not just with dollars and cents – rather, we’ll actually be a resident “artist” ourselves, with our own studio space. Our teams envision the space as a hub for cross pollinating ideas and experiments with the creative community ranging from experience design work, innovative tech such as VR/AR, machine learning, 3D printing and educational programs. We’ll also be on hand for mentorships—any artist who requests it will be given a free year-long Creative Cloud license and a one-on-one mentorship to learn the tools.
This is our chance to step out of our pixel-only universe and draw inspiration from people with different perspectives. We’re giving keys to a strategic cross-section of our creative employees, and we hope artists will come into our space and talk to us, experiment with us and incubate ideas with us. In return, we’ll work to build the technology that empowers artists to create in new ways. The goal goes way beyond being a tech company that supports the arts—we’re embracing the value of what we offer each other.
Our dream with the Minnesota Street Project is big. We want to create a model for how corporations, nonprofits and local communities can work together, and to show that community organizations can approach businesses in ways that go beyond just asking for money. This is the moment for tech to recognize that our success is tied to the creative world beyond our walls. It’s time for the Minnesota Street Project, and for many more bold, inventive projects that will nurture creativity and strengthen entire communities.
We’re going to make a difference with this. In a big way. Here, locally, in this crazy ridiculous city of San Francisco, but then we’re going to carry the idea forward to other cities and be a model for solutions to other problems, too.