Monday, May 20, 2019

Chapter 6: Worthy

Read Time: 6 minutes

The smoke was thicker now.

The fantasy continues…

They were running down the stairs. Hitting the landings hard. Pivoting, attacking the next flight.

“Brie, Brie, how many more flights?”

“We’re close now, I think.”

Finally, the doors. The smoke was coming up from below. Fire in the garage? Who knew. Allison hit the panic bar. Sirens sounded. They were out.

Eyes streaming tears. Faces streaked with soot. Smoke out here, too, but at least they could breathe.

“The founders never had to deal with this.”

Allison answered: “Maybe not, but they did anticipate it.”

Allison had been interviewing Brie for a Times piece. Now she was in the thick of it.

Founders meeting

The planning meeting wasn’t going well.

The only concrete progress was agreement on a name for the co-op, and that had been weeks ago. “Not surprising,” Tommy thought, “since most of the group came from design and branding. Good at creating lies; not so good at defining the future.”

The name was Overture. He liked the name, but unless it actually stood for something it was a waste of time.

They’d lost at least two of their most promising people during the laborious process of getting consensus. One of them, Stacy, was an immensely talented manager. Tommy thought she’d be a great CFO. So not only had they lost a talent, they had to reopen the search for a financial person. Shit.

And what had Stacy said when she quit? “Too much democracy for me. I guess I’m just too much of a capitalist.”

Overture

Overture Creative Cooperative. It was a great name. And their purpose was great, too: sustainable income for worker-owners. Work that was good for people andthe planet.

“The founders had their hearts in the right place from the start,” Allison thought. “I’ll build the article around the founders’ foresight.”

Shooting now. Close.

“If I live to write it.”

Brie grabbed Allison’s hand: “This way!” And they ran.

They knew the recent protests had been about the city’s exclusion of the homeless, the “working poor” and much of the lower end of what was left of the middle class. But as far as Allison knew, there’d only been sporadic violence so far. This was much worse. There were fires in cars and shops, all around.

They kept running.

Slow and frustrating

Tommy looked around the room. There were only six of them in attendance: four women and two men. “At least we got that right,” he thought. Everything he’d read on teamwork said that teams with more women than men were the most productive. Three others of the currently active group – two men and a woman – weren’t in attendance.

“Let’s set an agenda. What should we focus on…?”

“Logo,” someone said.

“God,” Tommy thought, “how can we waste time on a logo when we don’t know what we’re going to be doing? There’re more than enough people focused on branding and logos in the world already.”

So he said “Offer – we need to pin down our offer.”

“Bylaws.” That was Ariel. She’d been working on the bylaws, a thankless task since they’d started.

Tommy thought, “She must be feeling guilty.”

Somebody else put Office Space on the list.

Then Dan added Core Skills, and Tommy mentally put that under Offer. “Skills are key, but we need to know what the hell we’re doing first.”

No service

Brie stopped to consult the ’net. No service. The authorities must have shut down access, thinking that would piss off the protestors even more.

Turning the corner, they ran right into an armed band that streamed around them like they didn’t exist. For a moment they didn’t breathe.

Somewhat recovered, Allison asked, “Where we going, Brie?”

“Beacon Hill; we’ve got a safe location there.” Beacon Hill had always been Seattle’s low end. The biggest camps were there. Overture leadership had always sought out alternative locations.

“I need to let them know we’re okay and heading their way, and ask if they know a safe route. I should have plugged in before we left.”

“We sure didn’t have time for that.”

“No, but if I can get to an electrical outlet, I can reach them through the grid.”

She turned and stepped through a broken shop window. Finding an outlet, she jacked in and immediately got a cascade of messages from the team and from GM, and a bunch of media requests.

Offer

“We need to find an industry, or a category of organizations…”

Dan leaped in with, “…a group that needs to change because of outside forces.”

Kat jumped on that. “Remember that campaign you did for that utility, Dan? The one where you never mentioned the service…”

“Yep, that was a hard sell, but they were really under the gun to change. Basically, they were toast and they knew it.”

“So what did you promise them? Because I think…” Kat went on, “I think that within the struggles they had – and you and your team had – lie answers for us.”

Tommy thought, “This is good. This could get us somewhere.”

Just then the email notification chimed on all their phones. “It is with deep regret…”

“There goes another of our best,” thought Tommy.

The journey

The Beacon location was still secure, and happy to hear from Brie. “Yes, we can get you out of there,” was the word.

Brie and Allison hid behind the counter of what had been a designer boutique of some sort, close enough to the power outlet that she could communicate. Thankfully the boutique had been looted. With nothing more for pillagers to steal, they figured they were reasonably safe. Then the message came in…

“Can you get to the roof? We’ve got drones on the way.”

Brie replied with, “I’ll check.”

“Let’s see if we can get to the roof, Allison.”

Assignments

Kat went on. “We must move beyond our origins as a loose, motley crew of disenfranchised creatives…

“We must get beyond the arrogance of our new name. Overture? What? Overture to what?

“We must move! We must drill down into the promise of insight, difference and distinctiveness. Yes, we’re anti-establishment — but we have to do it with a positive sense of purpose.”

Kat ended with, “We just lost another promising member. We don’t have any more time to just fuck around.”

“Wow,” Tommy thought, “I’ve never seen Kat so wound up. This is great. Perfect.”

Eska exclaimed, “Right on, Kat! Okay, I’ll take on the emotional experience, and create a description of how we’ll shape the emotional experience of both groups and individuals…”

Ariel was next, and they all pledged to complete individual assignments by the next meeting.

Overture might be worthy after all.

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