Thursday, January 17, 2013

Building a billion-dollar enterprise, 11: Commerce and Community Identity

Years ago, I declared that I want Homewood to be "beautiful, prosperous and safe."

Then I expanded that to "beautiful, prosperous, safe and green" - the idea being that Homewood could be a leading example of LEED-certified neighborhood development.

Then, recognizing the ways in which communications technology is changing the world, and the importance of continual learning, I arrived at "beautiful, prosperous, safe, green, connected, global and smart."

All of which are great adjectives to describe what I want Homewood to BE, and to be known for being.

A few minutes ago, I wrote what I want Homewood to DO, and to be known for doing - something I don't remember ever having done before. Not only that, I wrote it as a personal aspiration, as something for me to do:

Make Homewood world-famous for producing entertainment.

It felt like an epiphany, a great convergence. It connects my work with the Save Race Street Committee and Block Watch Plus and Operation Better Block with the building of Luminaria Productions. Indeed, it puts Luminaria Productions at dead center of it all, as the company that leads the way in establishing Homewood as an entertainment production center.

I think my mind was nudging me toward this epiphany two or three weeks ago when it rewrote one of my favorite fantasies. I have often declared that I would love to do an internship at Pixar - even unpaid - just to be in the environment where people create astonishments like "Finding Nemo." Well, a couple of weeks ago, with no conscious ratiocination that I recall, I thought, I want people at Pixar to dream about coming to Luminaria Productions.

Hubris? Maybe. But does it make sense to strive to be anything other than the best?

The thing that surprises me as I think about it now is that I had not particularly thought of Luminaria Productions doing animated films. But there is PeaceBuilder. And the world of games is huge, and growing.

In any case:

The Homewood Children's Village talks about making Homewood a neighborhood "where every child succeeds." I have wanted to add, "...and where learning ever stops," an idea that lies behind my description of my ideal Homewood as "a black Chautauqua." I think that idea could still generate a lot of useful conversations that make great things happen. But now I want to add an outward-facing motto for the community: "We entertain the world."

Maybe that should just be Luminaria's slogan (assuming no other company has it already). In any case:

That's "entertain," not "amuse." As Richard Walter notes in "Screenwriting: The Art, Craft and Business of Film and Television Writing"

"To entertain is to occupy, to hold, to give over to consideration as in 'to entertain a notion.' This suggests not painting one's face and performing a tap dance for the notion, but cradling it in one's cortex, hefting its spiritual mass, regarding it, weighing it, investing it with contemplation."

The sentence, "Make Homewood world-famous for producing entertainment," came at the end of a thought-sequence sparked by the question, "What does Homewood produce?" To make Homewood a place that produces both dramas and comedies that carry ideas worthy of the world's contemplation...that would be worth a big chunk of whatever time I have left on this planet.
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