I have spent the past year planning for the opening and launch of Polis. I talked with over 80 people from all different walks of life in one-on-one conversations (a skill I was trained in as a staffer on the Obama campaign in ’08. Who knew it would come in handy again!). I met with each person as an attempt to test my assumptions about the need for the type of adult learning community that Polis could provide. I’ve read dozens of business books and gone to loads of small business workshops throughout the past year. No doubt, all of this preparation and data has been helpful.
But Polis is primarily built on the foundation of a gut instinct- now more than ever adults crave community in the “real” world.
Polis is not a new idea.
Salons have been around for hundreds of years. Yet, the traditional intellectual’s salon tended to be elite and undemocratic.
In fact, I was fortunate to be part of an incredibly vibrant community called Symposium (a combination book store and seminar program for Great Books that was in Hayes Valley for a number of years). There is an active off shoot of the Symposium brick-and-mortar experience can now be found through the Symposium Great Books Institute where rich conversation happens in seminars with students all over the world. Check them out. I am in awe of the community they’ve built and maintained.
So, why Polis and why now?
I have had this gnawing feeling for the past few years that something is missing from my busy life. With the rise of technology and social networks as the primary force for creating and sustaining community, I find myself yearning for an in-person adult community of learners. I find myself wanting to meet new and different types of people than I typically interact with. I want explore big ideas but I don’t have the time (or money) to commit to a semester-long university course. Through my conversations last year in preparation for launching Polis, I know that this feeling resonates with many other busy, working adults.
Your life is busy, but is it full?
This is the essential question that Polis is designed to help to answer. Polis will be a community of busy adults who seek more meaning in their day-to-day lives. My goal in creating Polis is to hold on to the best parts of the liberal arts and sciences and community-building experiences that I have been a part of and let go of the elements that a working adult just cannot sustain. I have designed Polis with the busy, working adult in mind.
I invite you to try one of our classes in this experiment to build a new (and hopefully long-lasting) community.