What is One Aiken – Open Collaboration

One Aiken- open collaboration is a local community Partnership designed to augment Top Down plans with a Grassroots boost for faster progress!

Have you read a lot of articles about Aiken over the past few years where officials are sharing their efforts to strategically position Aiken for the future? Do you have some killer ideas that you think would augment these efforts and wonder how you can get on the team to share your talents and ideas?

‘Get on the team’… a simple goal.

Aiken’s greatest asset is its people. We all carry her charm around in our heart. Grassroots, outside the system efforts are where a large contingent believes we have the best chance for success toward eradicating the doldrums from Aiken. Small actions leading to large cumulative outcomes. Because that’s how to make change, both now and in the future – grassroots style. Communicating all these small success stories are how we gather energy.

Who we are. Where we are.

Aiken is a truly diverse town with tens of thousands of interesting people from all walks of life. One of the things that gives our town its charm is that even the common man has many opportunities to gather together for traditions in historic, hallowed halls surrounded by native Southern landscaping that isn’t TOO fancy.

Within those settings, we all have the chance to carry on comfortable conversations with people churning out wildly diverse sets of stories. Aiken is filled with unique people from all walks of life. Let’s string these conversations together!

Recently, the whole country, not just Aiken, has been hit by a recession that we are not even sure is over. Aiken hasn’t fully recovered from the distressing news, proclaimed more than a few years ago, that “our town isn’t experiencing any growth”. There has been much talk about what we as a City can do about this issue but it seems like everyone is waiting for some grand plan to emerge from on high.

“OneTeam” initiatives are so popular these days. So many groups of people are eager to build a vision and enthusiastically work together to achieve common goals! It is generally easier to establish a #oneteam atmosphere in a homogeneous setting so we are seeing it mostly in traditional organizational structures. But what if you’re interested in non-traditional careers, a fledging artist, an engineer that sees a better way, a craftsman that wants to expand, or just want to get a street festival in town?

A Community Partnership

One Aiken – open collaboration is about sharing our ideas and talents, looking for synergy, and building an energy base for a 21st century Aiken charm! We are trying to put together homogenous groups of people to tackle their passions and goals while always looking for opportunities where they can achieve greater synergy by cross collaborating.

Because the current ideas are so diverse, we split them up into initial #hashtag categories that we can use to easily communicate among ourselves on social media and also raise Aiken’s global outreach efforts.


Our ‘One Aiken – open collaborations’ Framework
  • Each collaboration group will have a Kickoff meeting to share our ideas and determine what activities are already percolating.
  • We will break the ideas down, ponder them for a bit, and then have a “What does success look like?” brainstorm. Vision is everything.
  • Communications is key to successful collaborations and we have established a plan for about 8 methods of communication so you can keep up with all the fun. We have tried to structure them to keep the “noise” level down so you can concentrate where your energy lies but so you can easily look for additional synergy. We are planning monthly networking events at local venues, Facebook groups, newsletters, group project status meetings, and plenty of opportunities for cross-collaboration among projects.
  • We have a Coaches Council for folks that love the process side of things like best management practices, defining strengths and talents, community input and community organization, entrepreneurship, building bridges for students to the workforce, and more. We welcome anyone passionate in these areas to join the Coaches Council to help keep us from ‘herding cats’! We call this the “helping” system dedicated to addressing any dysfunctions and increasing the effectiveness of our collaborations.
  • Our headquarters is at The Ground Floor, an upstairs workspace sharing venue #downonPark, between Fairfield and Union Streets. We have a 20 person venue we call the Collaboration Room that we use for group meetings. It is also available for rental for skill share classes, trunk shows, private team building, training, and other small group activities for $25/hour.

We are charging a $20/month Partnership Fee to help cover the Collaboration Room’s overhead costs, website development and communications, event planning, and more. It is pretty easy to stick a $20 bill in the box monthly. This is a month to month commitment and if you don’t get $20 value (come on!), we will work like crazy for continuous improvements by reaching out to our helpers – the Coaches Council – to kick it up to a higher effectiveness. We are not organizing as a non-profit because we don’t want to expend energy toward fund raising. Let’s all just put some skin in the game to achieve our personal and civic goals.

Open collaborations and processes are hard to put into words and are more action oriented. Our website will be in constant flux as we grow new ideas and activities. Please watch for continuous improvements there. Peruse what we have so far on the website and like our One Aiken – open collaborations Facebook page to know when Kickoff events are posted. Read about the Current Collaborations that are looking for leadership and determine where your interests lie. There is a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ area that will be regularly updated.  We can’t wait until the website is perfect and really value your input on how it can be better. Our motto for the whole of last year has been #startsomewhere! These are uncharted waters…

With your inputs and assistance, we can create excitement for the future in Aiken. We just can’t wait until everything is perfect and someone says “go”. Let’s just GO!

Note: You can stop by “The Ground Floor” location at 318 and 318-1/2 Park Avenue, check out the Collaboration Room and pick up a One Aiken – open collaborations car stickers inside Material Things. Help spread the word, please, to all those people you have been having interesting conversations with in our charming town.

Let’s string together those conversations!