In the last few years I have witnessed something remarkable. A broad community of “digital enthusiasts” has gradually banded together realising that the sum is always greater than the parts.
These people were originally only connected online via social networks but then they started meeting at coffee mornings and soon the conversation drifted to “what else can we do”.
Before long there were monthly events where this community could meet, socialise and learn more. More coffee mornings also sprung up allowing even more people to connect in real life.
Naturally, many in this community started doing business with each other and introducing others to the group.
The potential of this community began to be seen and so a taskforce was formed to help harness its collective power. This served to place decision makers and influencers at the same table with the same broad goals for the community.
Others began to take notice. Big initiatives became realistic. Things started to happen.
Which brings us to today.
The community I am referring to is in my home town of Newcastle. What has been for years referred to as “Steel City” or “Coal Town” is now mining nerds. What began as a loose collection of “digital enthusiasts’ now constitutes a serious digital ecosystem.
- A growing collection of small tech start-ups and digital agencies.
- Co-work spaces like StartHouse and others.
- A monthly educational meetup with The Lunaticks.
- A $10 million startup accelerator at Slingshot.
- An industry taskforce at HunterDiGiT with a strong agenda for the region.
- An Open Innovation event connecting major organisations with the local innovation community.
- An ambitious annual industry event, DiG Festival, which aims to attract participants from throughout Australasia.
- A University and TAFE who are increasingly embracing change and engaging with the community.
You really get the feeling that this is just the beginning. There is so much more to come.
And its all the result of a bunch of passionate people working together to focus on the big picture. Its not about the individual or personal reward, instead its for the collective good of the region. It relies heavily on collectively supporting any initiative that will benefit the wider community.
If you live in this region, get on board, get involved and support those who are trying to make a difference.
If you live elsewhere, be reassured that this can also happen in your region. Change isn’t easy but there’s no denying the power of a focused community.