Creating Pride in Place

Connie Martinez relied on collaboration to help raise Silicon Valley’s cultural and aesthetic quality of life—the visible exterior of community—towards the same level as its intellectual and scientific accomplishments. She writes:

Although globally acclaimed for technology and innovation, Silicon Valley tends to “live in its head” without manifesting its creativity and innovation in the physical realm where we actually live, work, and raise our families. With that end in mind, a growing leadership network launched a series of initiatives, anchored in arts and urban design, as strategies for community building and place-making.

Over an eight-year period, the collaborative work of sixty-five ALF senior fellows, more than a hundred organizations, and four thousand local people has made a huge difference. Improvements to downtown San Jose and the San Jose airport have been completed and more are under way. A new urban plaza or “outdoor living room” for the arts is under construction. An urban market has opened. A first-ever regional marketing campaign for the arts, with a technology platform called LiveSV focused on cultural engagement, is in place. A failed cultural facility in east San Jose has transformed into the successful School of Arts and Culture and multicultural gathering space. A children’s creativity initiative serving tens of thousands of children and youth is in its incubation phase. The list of accomplishments is broad and deep and continues to grow.

None of this would have happened the way it happened, and as swiftly as it happened, without the ALF network. The network brought courage, comfort, and access to resources, all anchored in a culture of trust, respect, and possibility—the culture of ALF.

Connie Martinez is CEO of Silicon Valley Creates and lives in San Jose, California.

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