05 1 / 2012

The word “collaboration” first appeared sometime in the 1870s, deriving from the Latin word collaborare  (made up of com and labore and meaning, quite literally, “to work with”). 

In The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, Bruce Mau comments:  “The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential” – and it is in this space that great things can and do happen. 

And just why have creators, designers and artists long been inspired by this idea?  A fascinating article by Jonah Lehrer that appeared last year in the New York Times takes a very scientific approach towards answering this very question, stating that the  “human friction of a crowded space” puts us out of our comfort zone and better positions us for growth.  In the article’s attempt to identify the rules governing whether a society “flourishes or falls apart” – collaboration takes center stage.

Des Moines is no exception.  A diverse set of individuals (check) who care about what happens in their community (check), conversing & spreading ideas together in a centralized area – this is the heart of collaboration.  I would love to see more of it in 2012.


Anna Jones is a photographer. Follow: @alongcomesjones