Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What is this HATCH thing anyway?

HATCH is constantly redefining itself. 10 years ago it started in Bozeman, Montana as a film and music festival with a mentorship component and it has branched out into an an expansive canopy of creativity in a perpetual state of hatching. It is part TED-talk, part think tank, part summer camp for creative minds. It’s not exactly a conference and not exactly a festival, but after 10 years, it is settling into the undefinable HATCH Experience. I guess the reason we all have such trouble explaining it is because you really do have to experience it to fully grasp its significance. Now, after my second “HATCH Experience”, I feel I am starting to “get it”.

I used to have one of those kids chemistry sets. This is how I really learned the meaning of the word catalyst. I could mix a little of this and a little of that in a confined container, drop in a bit of another bit and something cool and unexpected would happen. Usually it involved changing colors, maybe some percolating bubbles. I always hoped for something really cataclysmic - like the giant bang and black cloud of smoke that would clear to reveal my with my hair standing on ends and a sooty ring around my safety goggles. Alas, that never happened in my parents’ garage, but it happens all the time at HATCH.

Our periodic table includes entrepreneurs, artists, hackers, inventors, CEOs, do-gooders, designers, groundbreakers… I could go on and on adding to the volatility of the HATCH identity. There are infinite opportunities for collaboration between HATCHers and equally infinite potential outcomes. All the guests are hand-picked by HATCH founder Yarrow Kraner, a mixture of creative success stories, untested “Groundbreakers” and local Montana innovators - a different mixture every year with no agenda other than to engage. We are, essentially, Yarrow’s human chemistry experiment.

The individuals who are invited to HATCH are all people who make stuff happen - whether on a daily basis or over years of struggle. Regardless, they are people with resumes. Yet remarkably, HATCH is an ego vacuum. I can’t say if it’s a “Check them at the door” scenario or if Yarrow has a sixth sense about ego-less people, but the four days are permeated with active listening, engaged networking, and sincere encouragement and mentorship. There’s no way to differentiate a keynote speaker from a local volunteer other than by spending some time in conversation. Impromptu collaborations abound with a tendency towards beta-testing crazy ideas on-site. For example, this year groundbreaker Nick Campbell set up an installation/performance of three electric guitars played by falling sand. I mean, why not?

I’m still mulling over the talks and conversations from the last few days, trying to glean every grain of effectiveness from my Hatch Experience. I am inspired by seeing so many people dive into an unknown entity with such abandon and it gives me much needed courage as an artist to keep forging on along my own path. Despite it’s ambiguity, HATCH is doing good in the world. It is worth supporting. And if an invitation ever happens to drop into your inbox, dive in recklessly. You won’t regret it!

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