I Want To Build ‘Cross-pollination Heaven’
This is a bat signal to future collaborators who share a dream to build neighborhoods where ‘scenius’ can flourish.
This week, I sparked a conversation on X about my vision to build a unique kind of physical space, as depicted in the following tweet:
The response to the tweet was encouraging. Dozens of people raised their hands in interest to my call for collaborators.
One person asked if I could elaborate on what exactly I want to build. So, here, I will do just that.
My vision revolves around creating a physical space that fosters 'scenius' – a collective form of genius that emerges when bright people come together in environments that bring out their best, most collaborative selves.
Not a city, but a dynamic, campus-like neighborhood near a city that can fit a few thousand people for a variety of purposes at a single time.
Imagine entering a place where you're immediately struck by a sense of possibility, and a renewed connection to people, nature, and the future.
Let’s call it…
What are the pieces that would constitute Cross-pollination Heaven?
Proximity to a Diverse, Accessible City: This place should be within an hour of a city that diverse groups of people already live in or are interested in visiting and should be easily accessible by subway or bus, and not hard to get to from an airport. Ideally, this place should be nestled in nature.
Common Dining Area: This place should have at least one central, default dining area (a nice food court), where people can come to and spontaneously meet other people. This could be in addition to isolated restaurants on this campus-like environment. All food options should be fresh and healthy, helping everyone be their highest energy selves. Few things do more to build trust than breaking bread with people. There should be natural light and indoor and outdoor dining areas.
Flexible Creative Zones: This place should have lots of resources like whiteboards and modern audiovisual equipment for brainstorming and conference calls, call booths, areas for co-working with peers and “competitors”, and facilities for recreational activities ranging from sports to music jam sessions. There should also be places for children to play.
Convening Areas: This place should have facilities for organizing conferences, concerts, impromptu events, parties, and other community-led gatherings. It should be easy to book spaces if your events meet certain criteria.
Lodging for Innovators: The place should include residential and lodging spaces for hundreds of people at a time, reserved primarily for organizations who organize “popup villages” or as I call them “innovation playgrounds” lasting 1-week to multiple weeks at a time. Entrepreneurs, artists, and leap year students should also be able to book a segment of the housing in a quasi-hotel style. This should also be where fellowships at colleges like HBCUs become a reality. And where people who take a break from school can pay to go to and link and cobuild with peers and mentors. On that note, there should also be permanent housing for a segment of highly accomplished people who want to be mentors in residence.
Embodiment of Innovation: The place should embody the future in its very foundation. To whatever extent possible, the building materials should be as durable and environmentally sustainable as possible. The furniture and architecture should be biomimetic. The lodging should be 3D printed or prefabbed in some way to help advance innovation in affordable housing. The space should be a pilot site for all kinds of architectural experiments. There should be an overlay over the “campus” that mimics a tree, providing shade. Plants should be everywhere, symbolizing a growing harmony between humans and nature. A lot of the building should be solar powered and harness natural light whenever possible. The space should be governed by the people who would most benefit from the space and contribute to its growing valuation.
What would it take to make Cross-pollination Heaven a reality?
The realization of such a place would require an epic scale of collaboration and long time horizon. It calls for the expertise of botanists, urban designers, architects, engineers, and visionaries who have shaped modern corporate campuses like Google’s and Apple’s. And the involvement of musicians, artists, culinary experts, housing developers, and park designers is crucial to create an all-encompassing ecosystem that supports various aspects of creativity and flourishing living.
This future space would be more than just a physical location; it would be…
A Schelling point for those at the cutting edge of their field who aspire to live and innovate better
A manifesto for a lifestyle that values family, wellness, nature, freedom, creativity, and boundary-transcending collaboration
A portal to a future where the goal of unleashing people’s inner genius is not just a lofty ideal but the very foundation of our living spaces
I don’t see this as a 1-2 year project. I see it as more of a 10+ year project (with the first major milestones hit in ~5 years).
How you can help build Cross-pollination Heaven:
In this early stage, here’s how you can help:
Share with me ideas for where this Heavenly place could exist. What country? What city? What plot of land seems promising?
Introduce me to people who have a similar vision and are already making serious progress. Who has already secured funding and maybe even broken ground on a project this ambitious? I’d love to meet them and invite them to one of my innovation playgrounds this year.
Introduce me to government leaders and mega funders who would want to help make such a place a reality. Who could allocate millions in government funding (including tax incentives) to this? Who wants to make it part of their life mission (like billionaire George Kaiser did with The Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma) to build amazing gathering places?
Advise me on what I should learn to be someone who can help make this place a reality. What are existing permanent places (e.g. the Norrsken Kigali House) that should inspire the design of this place? What characteristics should this Heavenly place have based on your experience? What books and blogs should I be reading?
Finally, if you’d like to follow along on this journey as I…
Create “innovation playgrounds” (as I mentioned in my last post. Hosting these multi-week coliving experiences is the key stepping stone to inspiring people to invest in building permanent physical environments where it is easy to host such playgrounds.)
Explore how “Cross-pollination Heaven” can be created
… subscribe to my Substack if you haven’t already 🙂
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Until next time!