Our Bank on the Boulder Mall
looking 20 years later just as it was when we first moved there
Birth of an Idea
In early January 1979 Gail told me that she wanted to leave Kansas City. At the time she was running the Learning Exchange and I was directing the Renascence Project - both organizations which we had, respectively, founded. Gail set her target for a June migration. We started meeting on Sundays and keeping notebooks on what we might do.
I was working on a book [link] and was far from “finished” with the Renascence Project. Gail had lived all her life in Kansas City and had decided that she had to leave and explore new options.
Both of us had achieved some reputation in certain networks interested in “alternative” views of creativity, education, health, architecture, organization, life-work styles and future options.Outside of Gail’s connections in Kansas City, however, we had few friends and associates and almost none in established organizations.
INSTEAD under construction.
There followed a number of events that birthed a project that had enormous appeal to us. Things accererated until we were certain of its success and then, suddenly - late in the summer - eveything collapsed leaving a vacuum - out of which - MG Taylor was born.
We thought we were moving to California - instead we moved to Colorado. We thought we were going to set up a foundation with a number of well known, creative people - instead we started a for-profit business by ourselves. We thought we were going to build a small “secular monestrary” on a large track of land outside of Yosemenity - instead we built a a 3,500 square foot “Anticipatory Management Center” off the Boulder Mall and a small two family homestead named “Instead.”
We had no idea that we had launched an enterprise that would take over 22 years [link] ( and now, as of 2005, 26 years) [link] to go full cycle and reach a measure of success. In our own Model of the “Creative Process” were we at “Intent.” We were clear with our vision and what we wanted to accomplish. We did not know how we were going to accomplish it nor what it would take. It was a curious mixture of being right on target and almost totally blind - a prerequsite, I think, for starting an enterprise. It became a proper heuristic search.
We were staying with Barbara Hubbard for the summer, in Washington DC, when all of our plans collapsed. In a matter of a few days, everyone who was to be a part of of the project had a crisis/opportunity that altered both their priorities and capacity to invest in the project. Gail and I were to be the designer builder/operators of the project and the others investors and participants. We were able, with a few hours to spare, stop everything we owned from leaving Kansas City by truck to be deposited on 880 empty acres of sloping foothills just outside Yosemity National Forest.
At the time that this happened, Lief Smith, who ran the Denver Open Network, visited us in DC. “Come to Colorado” he said, “there are three projects that are run by people who will like your work.” We went to Colorado. It turned out that nothing happened with the three projects. It also turned out that Boulder, Colorado, in 1979, was the perfect incubation environment for what we wanted to do.
I went to work as a landscape designer/builder and Gail started to “network.” In a few months we had a contract from the City of Boulder to design and facilitate an Affordable Housing Project. We built the Anticipatory Management Center in which to do it, invented the DesignShop process, and were on our way.
Lief knows more than anybody I know about networks and network theory. He and Pat Wagner did pioneering work on the concept of free order and open network. He is a great wizard. Here is a paper of his about wizards. He and Pat are still at it and can be found at Pattern Research. We are forever in his debt for guiding us to Colorado - although the specifics did not work out, the idea was right. 
We were crazy in those years. Full of ideas and great plans. We were happy. We took big bites. Despite the fact we both had 20 plus years of work experience behind us, we were naive. I often wonder if we had known, at the beginning, what it would take - if we would have done it. Innovation is a curious combination of knowing - and not. Of having what it takes - and having nothing. Of being certain of your ground and completely recreating the problem. We recreated the workplace and launched ourselves, in one leap, 20 years into the future. Nearly 7,500 days later (going on 9,000), we are just catching up with what we did.
What is interesting is that, as we get closer to success, it seems less fun than when we began. I do not know if this results from the accumulated fatigue of the years, the long effort, the inevitable disappointments and the fact of being 20 (25) years older - or, if there is another cause. If there is another cause, I would like to find it.
I do believe that a necessary part of a protracted startup process is going back to the beginning and seeking that starting energy and naive point of view. This is a vital aspect of renewing. It is not that the experience and attitude of either poles, 20 years apart, are the “right” one - it is how they co-mingle in the mind that is important. It is important to both “remember” what you started out to do and mix that memory with the “reality” of where you are today. Both vantage points have value. Each informs the other.
In the Boulder days, I did extensive journaling. Today, these web pagescadd to that of pen and paper which are also web-published along with past materials from our Archives. The advantage of the www is that it is a great instant publishing method. I can share with those of like mind on a real-time basis. In many ways, I consider this documentation the most important aspect of my work. Organizations come and go, buildings rise and fall, ideas go on forever. 
Return to INDEX
GoTo: Renascence Reports
Index - part one of two
GoTo: Renascence Reports
Index - part two of two
Renascence Era Notebooks
1974 to1979
Matt Taylor
Palo Alto
March 31, 1999


SolutionBox voice of this document:



posted: March, 1999

revised: July 23, 2005
•19990331.007621.mt • 20001114.123487.mt •
• 20050723.191109.mt •

(note: this document is about 70% finished)

Copyright© Matt Taylor 1999, 2000, 2005



Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase
Sound-alike matching
From: ,
To: ,
Show:   results   summaries
Sort by: