I had the pleasure of meeting with Ryan Heafy yesterday. He made braving Woodruff Rd traffic absolutely worth it. Ryan is the event coordinator for iMAGINE Upstate, a festival to be held this coming March 28- April 4 on Main Street in Greenville. Heafy says about the festival, "think Artisphere for STEM and manufacturing".
Hang on. Ryan, are you seriously comparing the arts to science, technology, engineering and math? And to MANUFACTURING?!? In fact, he is. And with good reason. The Upstate of South Carolina, ranging from Greenville to Spartanburg to Laurens, prides itself on two things, the Arts and Manufacturing. While many don't see the connection, to some of us who, as Tom Riddle would say, "drink the Koolaid", the connections are clear.
There is some pretty standard vocabulary that explodes from people's mouths when we talk about STEM, the arts, and entrepreneurship these days: innovation, design thinking, creative, environments, ecosystems, collaboration, and catalysts. Each is part of iMAGINE Upstate's vision for the event and for the future of our region. Ryan poured me a very sweet cup of Koolaid saying, "this event will enable the “Ah-ha” Moments that will shape our future in the Upstate!" I'm a huge fan of that statement.
As we ingested our caffeinated beverages of choice, our vision for what Riverside MVAD students will offer iMAGINE Upstate started to become clear. Ryan is obviously offering us a unique opportunity to showcase our innovative ideas and product or service prototypes in an environment built to connect design thinkers. Just that is invaluable. What lies deeper is the authentic engagement Riverside MVAD students will have with actual VCs, business owners, local and state government, and prominent community members. Authentic engagement teaches students more than any amount of reading, theory, or homework ever can. It assesses them more deeply than any standardized test ever will. It also allows their parents to watch in pride as their sons and daughters communicate their ideas and products to important members of our region: Unique. Rare. Valuable. Without leaders like Ryan, iMAGINE Upstate, the SC STEM Collaborative, Tom Peters and the SC Coalition of Mathematics and Sciences, so many opportunities like this wouldn't exist.
To help sponsor this event, go to http://www.otegreenville.com/edgers/imagine-upstate/ and donate to Ryan's Over the Edge fund.
For more information on iMAGINE Upstate, please like their Facebook page, bookmark their website, and read the Upstate Business Journal article about the event. Thank you again, Ryan, for meeting with me and offering us this invaluable opportunity.