All Hands On Deck: A Do It Together mindset in a DIY world

main.jpgRecently I wrote an essay for about the rising popularity of collaborative arts projects and a “Do It Together” vs. Do It Yourself ethos in the Twin Cities (Do It Together? Patience, cricket, I’ll explain). Although the article was focused on the Minneapolis arts scene, rereading it got me thinking about how the Do-It-Together concept could be applied to almost any creative or professional culture, including nonprofits. And lo and behold, just like that I had organically stumbled upon the perfect topic for this blog All. By. My. Self.

Err… hold on a second. That’s actually a stone cold, rock hard lie right there. 

A few days ago magician-of-all-trades YNPN board member Chris Oien casually suggested the idea to me and I was sold. Do It Together, kids.

The phrase, Do It Together, was made popular by the mad genius and super connected nice guy behind MPLS.TVChris Cloud. DIT is a spin on the DIY movement that came along with the great technology boom of the last five years. It suggests that in order to really capitalize on the boom creatively, it makes much more sense to take Do It Yourself one step further by Doing It Yourself with a Lot of Other People.  Sounds dirty, sure, but the idea is actually quite pure and simple.

In a lot of industries and cities across the nation, people are going at each other with a fiercely competitive kill or be killed attitude that puts a few people sitting pretty way high at the top, but leaves a whole lot more hanging heavy at the bottom becoming disenchanted, disillusioned and ultimately a little disgusted at the state of our work culture. The Twin Cities has the benefit of being big enough to have a rich nonprofit and arts culture, but small enough to avoid the oversaturation that leads to those cut throat dynamics. 

While the DIT attitude admittedly makes the most sense in relation to the arts sector, the same general concept applies for networking in the nonprofit world, and chances are you’ve probably heard it before. When you stop thinking in terms of “me” (“What does this person have to offer me?” “What do I have to offer to this person?”) and start thinking in terms of “we” (“How will working together benefit all of us?”), the whole process becomes much more powerful, and, much more enjoyable and natural too. Plus, once you actually start putting yourself out there you’ll realize that err’body sort of knows err’body here, so it definitely pays to set your default at kind and helpful. 

So what useful information could someone like me—a 23 year old freelance writer and co-Founder of a goofball literary arts magazine who is not even technically “in” the nonprofit world—possibly have for someone like you—charming, wildly successful, devilishly good-looking nonprofit hunks and honeys? 

Well, here it is in the most basic of terms. No matter where you are in your career or what type of career you have: Be kind. Be willing to ask for help. Be willing to help others. Just like Chris was willing to help me without even being asked. Maybe it’s a little granola for some high-powered executive types, but the “Nice guys finish last” mantra is very much dead. Nice guys and girls working with other nice guys and girls towards a common goal are bringing home the gold with more and more frequency, and nowhere will you find this “all for one” movement more prevalent than in the Twin Cities. 

In a lot of ways, in a city like this, we’re all sort of working to that same collective goal of you know, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;” and we’re all going to get there a lot quicker if we grind that granola with pride and just Do the Damn Thing…Together.

When have you benefitted from a Do It Together attitude in the past? What’s at stake and what do we gain when we put aside DIY and embrace DIT?

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