Graham & Michael,

After gestating for a week, I have some things to say:

My whole being was affected by joining the Breakout family in Portland. As you guys know, I am no spring chicken when it comes to gathering with groups of dynamic doers/creators/influencers/leaders in the pursuit of spreading knowledge, creating amazing human experiences, and sharing in adventure, whether creative, intellectual, or actual. 

That being said, the normal margins which I could easily define around a concept or group are somehow irrelevant in your case. Why? Because I believe that you guys are among the closest in the world right now to striking a balance with the allusive triad that makes any community great: people / experience / impact. 

For years, I have seen first hand and read about organizations across the world and across time, who have sought to find that balance. Most failed mainly due to the time's social norms, circumstances, etc. But we live in a unique age, an age where the pursuit of striking that balance can be taken further and experienced by more people. 

The People

The approach-ability of the people I encountered at Breakout was in a class of its own, compared to other communities that I am a part of. To be clear, approach-ability in two senses, 1) The people on the trip were vastly openhearted and open-minded. That being a testament not only to the people, but even more so a testament to your ability to collaborate successfully in curating the group. I would imagine that you have heard similar sentiments. Additionally, I strongly believe that keeping these city based events under 100 or so people is key to maintaining the approach-ability of the most important part of community: meaningful interaction among it's people. Anything over and above that number by the nature of math becomes a little unwieldy. And personally, knowing that you are also trying to make a living, I would be willing to pay more to support such an intimate setting. Regardless of that thought, I was stimulated, warmed, and so grateful for the people that you brought together. Without good people there can be no great experience, much less meaningful impact.

The Experience

Most people with any talent whatsoever can talk about creating a memorable experience, creating it however is a different story. Portland is a fun place to have an adventurous experience. Our tapestry is rich with color, contrast, and freckled with industry, innovation, and weirdness. In fact, as you know, the adventurous nature of Portland, Oregon, and the PNW is nothing new. The pioneers that settled here intended on a bustling and vibrant community and economy fully integrated with the great outdoors. Today, that spirit is still strong for many of us here. What I loved about your approach to creating the experience was really more a quality of the time and energy you guys put into understanding that spirit. As I understand, the same thoughtful process you have taken on, despite great challenges and adverse perceptions, in cities around the country. Nonetheless, I see groups/orgs/communities every day that completely miss the above process completely. As we talked about at coffee a couple of weeks ago; I see Breakout as a community of globally minded risk takers focused on bringing people deeper into the communities that they reside. How? Through experiences like the one you and your team created for us in Portland. The moral of the story here for me is that the experience of a community like Breakout is nothing without first establishing a strong bond with the core experiences which make that city unique. In simple terms, most communities with similar foundational goals isolate whereas Breakout integrates. Integration is the key to dynamic experiences.

The Impact

If the people within a community are great, open-minded, open-hearted, and the time is taken to meaningful bring them together around the authentic energy of a physical community through experience, then the net-positive is impact. Maybe that's the ultimate irony; most communities are so focused on creating impact that they miss the first two steps in achieving the sacred triad...because the third aspect of the triad, what I would agree is the crux, is only achieved by creating a balance between people and experience. To me, and many others who I have spoken with since, Breakout Portland successfully realized the triad. The impact was felt within the minds of those who were a part of it; from tears that were shed due to the compassion for little Harper, to the commiseration we felt standing outside of the elements listening to Colin battle some of the world's most extreme elements, to sharing a few meaningful moments trying to understand another perspective of homelessness. From great food to great views of the beautiful Columbia River Gorge to late night conversations about life, loss, and love. From the birth of new ideas on how we can be better people in this world to how we can be more vulnerable to each other and learn more. The impact was multi-dimensional. Because you achieved the first two levels of the triad the impact of what we experienced as a community was as multi-dimensional as it was pure fun. 

To me, Breakout is impacting society and its members positively by bringing together dynamic entrepreneurs around locally authentic experiences across the country.

Thank you for allowing me to become a part of Breakout. Thank you and entire team that made Breakout Portland possible. I know firsthand the great challenges associated with what you are doing. Don't stop. It means something big. 

Breakout is bigger than each of us, but only as big as all of us can imagine...




Co-Founder / CEO, Evercas

Graham Cohen1 Comment