Moore’s law is no joke: The exponential growth in computing power does not seem to be letting up. Since the 1890s, we have witnessed a one trillion-fold increase in memory power--one billion-fold of that just since the creation of mainframe computers in the 1960s. Futurist Ray Kurzweil projects, “What used to take up a building now fits in our pockets. What now fits in our pockets would fit in a blood cell in 25 years.”
Breakthrough technologies are continuously emerging and improving to shape and stimulate our senses. There are estimates that in developed countries, many children now own or have access to up to five devices of various screen sizes. According to a 2013 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children in the U.S. spent an average of seven and a half hours each day staring at screens. We are awash in free content and always linked to others through our digital networks. We don’t even have the chance to get bored anymore.
Despite this new world of hyperstimulation and hyperconnectivity, people do not necessarily feel connected to one another. It’s a conundrum that even Pope Francis uses in his liturgy. He claims that humans still need an “authentic culture of encounter.” Encuentro. Encounters, he argues, provide a vital kind of mingling that engenders genuine communication, support, and solidarity—far different from a connectivity that leaves people as mere “passersbys on the digital highways, simply ‘connected’” but living “apart, closed in ourselves.”
In her TED talks, sociologist Brene Brown confirms this same need for connection as she shares her research on vulnerability. Brown defines vulnerability as “emotional risk, uncertainty”--the “core of fear and anxiety.” But if and when we embrace vulnerability, we can connect more authentically with one another. Although we may feel the need to puff ourselves up, display mastery, or pass as bulletproof--as if we have to have all of the answers--Brown argues that this is rarely what people actually wish to see. Deli Moussavi-Bock adds, “Vulnerability is where our greatest untapped source of power lies, a key ingredient of a leader and also of a culture that creates openness, truth telling, innovation, and most importantly, connection.”
At Sandbox ColLABorative, we believe firmly in the need for encounters and authentic connections. We believe that moments of vulnerability, courage, and creativity can animate the One University Initiative launched by President Paul LeBlanc in the fall of 2015. We are stronger when we are collaborating and building solutions together.
It is our absolute pleasure to open the physical space of Sandbox to the SNHU community. Sandbox is for you. Architect Todd Shafer and I have designed this unique space so that all faculty and staff can take advantage of this central location for scheduled encounters as well as those serendipitous encounters that can take place in a communal meeting space.
Sandbox is not a maker space with fancy technology. It’s a low-tech lab—and deliberately so. Most sections of the lab offer multiple writeable surfaces to enhance brainstorming, collaboration, movement, and connection—what we call, play.
In this open and warm environment, people can move around, play, and dare to take risks. We believe Brown when she proffers that “[v]ulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Sandbox can be your safe space for experimentation, vulnerability, failure, and iteration—a special, neutral space in which you can embrace uncertainty without fear or anxiety.
In Fierce Conversations, Susan Scott states, “Authenticity isn’t something you have. It’s something you choose.” We hope that our space enables such a choice. Come play in the Sandbox: sit on some stones; write all over the whiteboard caves; curl up in a beanbag, and engage with your peers. Our team is here to serve and support you however we can. In the coming weeks, we’ll explain how to take full advantage of the space. Look to our website for more information and our FAQs: www.snhu.edu/sandbox. Email us with any questions: SNHUsandbox@gmail.com. Call us at 603-655-SAND.
In the meantime, please know that Sandbox is the place where you don’t need to have the answers. Not knowing can be the beginning of play.