Dear GIS Family:

Wow.

We can’t think of any other word to describe the first Global Innovation Summit.  We convened 400 people from 49 countries.  We saw 57 ecosystem pitches uploaded for the world to see.  We experienced the immeasurable buzz, collaboration, and sense of common purpose.  It was an amazing feeling.  And profoundly humbling. 

First of all, thank you.  We can’t express enough gratitude to you for joining our ambitious adventure.  In the beginning, we asked ourselves a simple but radical question: would it be possible to reinvent economic development?  Could we foster the next generation of “doers” trying to grow innovation around the world, by shifting our focus from fragmented projects to whole ecosystems?  And who would even care about building Rainforests?

What we didn’t know is how you would respond.  And you blew us away.

Clearly, a community of “Rainforest Makers” has been born.  It stretches across the globe.  Many of you have talked or written to us in the past week, expressing how meaningful the Summit has been to you.  Several of you have shared how the Summit has completely transformed your work already: you are redesigning programs, rewriting reports, and rethinking assumptions.  Some of you even came to us in tears, as the realization dawned that you are not alone, that you have fellow travelers who share your passion and values, and that there are practical tools to light the pathway ahead.

There were lots of things we did right.  And there were lots of things we could have done better.  As we go forward, here is what we are focusing on right now to help nurture this great community:

1.     We want to help you build Rainforests.  This means that we need to keep an active sustained dialogue in the coming year with this newborn community.  Thus, we need to hear from you.  What do you want from us?  How can we support your work?  Which tools can we help develop for you?  We can’t promise we can do all of it, but we will do our best to support your efforts around the world. 

2.     Communicate, collaborate.  We are going to maintain active communities on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, so that you can provide feedback to us and share ideas and opportunities with each other.

3.     Select GIS 2013 dates.  Please help us by voting on possible dates for the Summit in 2013 by clicking here.  Given our global audience, we are trying to be sensitive to different vacations and religious holidays next year.

4.     Contacts.  We are working on a way to share attendee names without violating anyone’s privacy.  Please stay tuned.

5.     Presentations.  We have uploaded several of the presentations at the Summit.  You can find them here.  We plan to upload more soon.

6.     Call to Action.  We need your help to turn goodwill into action.  In the next several months, we want you to form active working groups to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges by building ecosystem-wide solutions.  By next year’s Summit, we want to hear about real-live Rainforests that have been prototyped, field-tested, and are making an impact.  We want to highlight some of your case studies at the Summit in 2013, so let us know how they’re going!

There are a bunch of other things we are working on.  We plan to edit the Summit video and make it available to you.  We are compiling the feedback questionnaires you filled out.  We are designing, organizing, and raising sponsorships for GIS 2013, so we welcome your suggestions and support.

As we continue to transform this “adventure” into a real-world Rainforest that supports you in your work, we ask that you continue to live the basic values that drive the growth of innovation ecosystems, so that we may teach others by example.  Break rules and dream.  Open doors and listen.  Trust and be trusted.  Experiment and iterate together.  Seek fairness, not advantage.  Err, fail, and persist.  Pay it forward.

With deep humility and appreciation to all of you,

Al Watkins                            Victor W. Hwang                           Greg Horowitt
Executive Chair                 Executive Director                       Co-Founder
& Co-Founder                   & Co-Founder

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