MY EXPERIENCE FROM THE FIRST POP-UP SOCIAL
When an introvert walks into a large brewery filled with people she’s never met, everything inside of her wants to find a corner where she can hide or run away. But I had a purpose there. I was to bless those who had been inspired and to empower those who still dreamed.
My fellow introverts understand the practice and role-playing that takes place before a large gathering. “I just need one solid question to get a conversation going… but what should I ask?” Yes, we rehearse what to say ahead of time. Don’t judge. We’re intentional people who struggle with small talk.
What I forgot was how much I love to hear people’s stories… and how willing most people are to share them. After the first couple of introductions, I’d forgotten the designated question and just enjoyed learning about people’s lives.
I learned about how Emily had been in the Peace Corp before Googling “social enterprise Dallas” and connecting with Tribe Alive.
I learned how Timm and Katherine discovered their knack for hospitality, leading to the creation of Hurley House. To hear Timm tell it, “Katherine’s good at stuff, and I’m tall.” I wish that every woman had such a supportive husband.
I stood mesmerized at the Limited Time Only booth, taking in the beauty and creativity Jana and Lana were able to draw out of “junk”. Who else do you know who can make rusted scissors look decorative? Then I met Ella, Lana’s young daughter, who told me about her love of tiny things (like the fairy garden on display) and how she would love to have the upholstered horse head in her home someday. She likes horses and is learning to ride.
The crowd had begun to thicken at the front of the brewery so I continued out the back door. The Collective Brewing Project has transformed a concrete loading dock into an outdoor patio with picnic tables and just enough room for a food truck. It’s brilliant really.
I got in line to get some tacos from Taco Heads (the aforementioned food truck). Standing in front of me in line was Mike and his significant other. Mike is one of the founders of The Collective Brewing Project. While we waited for our names to be called and fresh tacos to be served, I told him and co-founder, Ryan, how cool I thought the loading dock area was. They weren’t as enthusiastic. When I commented on their lack of enthusiasm, they said, “We’ve got dreams for what this area could be.”
Ahhhh… dreams. I like dreams, so I asked for more details. Reluctant to share, they needed to be reminded that one of the purposes of City:SHAPERS is to help people live their dreams and to connect them to people who can make those dreams come true. “We want to put three 40-foot shipping containers back here.” As I listened to their vision for where they would place the containers and what they’d use them for, I could barely keep from grinning. My mom and step-dad own a shipping container business. Yes, really. I don’t know if the shipping containers in El Paso will ever find their way to Fort Worth, but the connection was a great reminder about how sharing ideas leads to the implementation of those ideas.
I ate my delicious tacos (carnitas with cilantro slaw!) and headed back inside to hear the Dream Box Talks. The crowd had grown so that it was impossible to walk through the building without touching someone (or multiple someones) on the way past. People stood shoulder to shoulder in the midst of conversation, holding a beer or a cup of coffee freshly poured by the baristas with Coffee: Experience. And it was loud! There was no music in the background, nothing but a brewery full of conversations and connections.
I literally ran into L-Train as I walked past his booth for UnderGround. It’s a cigar shop and lounge that smelled like my Uncle Harold… in a good way. My favorite quote from my conversation with L-Train: “I turned a bad habit into a good business.” And judging from the number of people who made their way out to the loading dock with cigars in hand throughout the night, I believe him.
Three vendors gave Dream Box Talks. I don’t want to give away all of their stories because I want you to get to know them, so I’ll just summarize with three quotes, one from each vendor.
This is a picture of our first batch of beer. It was awful.
- We started making pretzels in our kitchen.
- We’re trying to get our parents to drink something better than Folger’s coffee.
I stood next to the Coffee: Experience bar during the talks, drinking a glorious cup of decaf (without cream!) and bantering with Ashtin. Perhaps my favorite part of the night came after the talks were over and most of the vendors were closing down. I caught up with Ashtin eating a piece of Hurley House cake. As he ate, he told me about the dream to use his artistic abilities to start a non-profit that tells people’s stories and helps to meet their needs. I won’t give away too much. After all, it’s his dream to share.
I drove home inspired by dreamers and creative thinkers whose imaginations come to life and make our community a better place to be. They are City: Shapers.
City:SHAPERS Team Member