It’s a cliché but The Edge proves “time does fly when you are having fun”. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since The Edge opened in February 2010. Sure, there have been some tough weeks, and of course there has been the occasional setback… like, you know that time the Brisbane River came inside… but when you look back over the five years it’s been a fantastic initiative to be part of.
When I was asked to write this post for The Edge’s fifth birthday I was secretly a bit embarrassed. I think I have some baggage about being identified as “the guy who’s worked here forever” (5 years is like 50 in arts-worker years). You feel a little like the sad old embarrassing dude who won’t leave the party at the end of the night. I love a party.
Anyway, after putting my baggage aside I had a think about what it is I’ve enjoyed about being part of this place. I thought about what my highlights have been and have tried to put my finger on what’s made the place tick. After working somewhere for five years, sometimes you can start to take things for granted, so its been a nice excuse reflect and think about why I keep coming back for more.
Now if you’d asked me five years ago how I thought it was all going to pan out for The Edge I certainly wouldn’t have predicted our success. The initial scheme of establishing a “digital culture centre for young people” was a bold initiative for an institution like the State Library. Few other organisations would consider investing in a project of this nature or scale. The idea of securing a piece of prime real estate in the heart of the cultural precinct, to be developed as space for young people to learn about computers and art and stuff was a fairly radical proposal. No one knew how long we’d be allowed to run with the experiment. But, I think a lot of people the saw potential in the project and were drawn to engage with it. With this kind of support The Edge found its feet pretty quickly and has consistently grown its capacity for making exciting things happen, and has consistently extended the scope of its offering to the public.
How’s The Edge done this? I’ll try articulating just one of my many theories.
Like I said, before we even opened the doors of our newly refurbished building, we attracted a steady stream of talented and inspired people who started eagerly engaging with The Edge. But it wasn’t just the sweet access to a mac lab or the river views from the window bays. People seemed genuinely excited at the opportunity to get involved, to share something of themselves with the other people in our community, people enjoyed contributing to The Edge as a community. There was an enthusiasm from people.
Enthusiastic people were prepared to commit to the uncertain process of trying to make something cool. Enthusiastic people, trying out something they’d never done before. It’s the enthusiastic people who were prepared to risk embarrassment and/or failure that have made The Edge a success. I’d say all my favorite highlights of the last five years at The Edge have come from this dynamic.
You’ve got the regular faces in the lab who’ll excitedly share with you their ideas for their next project. Highlight.
The committed members of the staff team who consistently go out of their way to find a solution but who aren’t always going to be able to…. But they try. Highlight.
The serial workshop attendees who’ll give anything a go, and even risk disappointment. Highlight.
The people who share their passion and experience unreservedly and who often jump in and herd the cats at our meet-ups like Hack the Evening and Producers Club. Highlight
There’s the engaged participants who animated (and reanimated) projects like our Halloween party and those three crazy zombie apocalypses that live, eat and sleep projects for weeks at a time to make cool stuff happen. Highlight.
And, our excellent workshop facilitators and techs whose rare professionalism, commitment to quality and high production values are always on show, even in the midst of a man made or natural disaster. Highlight.
These are the things that have made it a pretty inspiring place to work (and play!). And, if The Edge continues to attract enthusiastic people willing to take risks by trying something different, this dynamic will continue to make it the place that it is.