Teaming Up to Explore

October 31, 2017

This post was written by Jonathan Kaufman Jonathan is co-founder & Principal of Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies. In this role, Jonathan collaborates with nonprofits and social entrepreneurs all over the world, helping them expand and deepen their impact.

Individually, some of our most profound and transformative experiences have happened while traveling. Our team members have lived in and visited almost every corner of the world, seeking new perspectives, cultures, cuisines, and innovations. Through all of these experiences, we have each come back with wider eyes, a more profound understanding of self and others, and an elevated curiosity about what else might be out there.

In staying true to our Team Up and Learn Up values, we started to wonder what would happen if we harnessed this love of travel and let it play out at the team level. So the first week of October, our entire team packed its bags and ventured out to one of the more fascinating, beautiful, and confounding places known to humankind: Colorado.

In light of the current political climate, we wanted to go to a purple state that in many ways represents a microcosm of our nation, as well as has a culinary scene worth experiencing. Colorado seemed to fit the bill perfectly, and it did not disappoint. Over the course of four days, we met with people and organizations across the political spectrum. We got to know the marijuana growers lobbying for access to traditional banking institutions for their federally-illegal businesses; we engaged with political centrists scrambling to build infrastructure for independent candidates; and we sat down with Christian fundamentalists who are shaping conservative messaging across the country. We weren’t looking to debate, to argue, or to convince anyone; we sought to listen, to learn, and to explore. What we discovered was that while we all have differing opinions about certain political philosophies or tactics, in every meeting we found people who genuinely enjoyed connecting with others. We pushed through stereotypes and preconceived notions to find common ground and shared meaning.

Did we solve the polarization our nation is feeling in its politics and communities? No. But did we make promising strides in that direction? You better believe it. And yeah, we found the time to eat some seriously delicious food.

Since we got back, we’ve noticed a distinct difference in how we think and talk about relationships and we’re watching it play out in our work. We’re asking more generative questions, checking our biases, and bringing a “yes and” mindset to everything we’re doing. We’re more closely bonded as a team and more passionate than ever about helping to create a more equitable and just world. We’re also more convinced than ever of the power of travel.

Have an idea of where we should go, who we should meet, and what we should eat on our next team trip? Tweet your ideas at us and let us know!