Lessons in saying ‘no’ from the OpenGrounds Opening

If there’s one tangible tagline you can pin down on OpenGrounds it’s: connect, collaborate, create. Of course, there are a hundred other words you can affiliate with OpenGrounds: curiosity, innovation, cross-disciplinary, thought, studio. Because OpenGrounds embodies so many big concepts, it’s truly inspiring, but often hard to explain to others.

To me, the most poignant description of OpenGrounds is “thought-provoking”. To be honest, before getting involved in OpenGrounds I rarely considered how I might work with someone of another discipline to work on some innovative project. I always assumed that these types of enterprising, creative thoughts would pop into my head after graduation, when I entered the real world.

I hope that most of all, OpenGrounds inspires a bit of rebellion in UVA students.

OpenGrounds reminded me that although I’m in college, I’m in the real world, but better. It’s better because in the real world you don’t get any more free advice (or so I hear). I won’t speak for everyone, but personally, it’s easy to forget how many resources I have available to me and how many people I can bounce my ideas off of.

Well, the opening of OpenGrounds was certainly a night filled with bouncing ideas off of one another. “One another” included UVA administration, faculty, successful business people, artists, scholars, and students. The audience heard Rita Dove discuss her poetry about geometry, Doug Garland, now at Shazam, recount how many underestimated mobile phones, David Edwards explain his breathable chocolate product, and Richard Koshalek detail his journey in designing the Disney Opera Hall.

Although each topic was different, I picked up a similar message weaved within each story: you must have the courage to say no. No? But that’s so negative! It seems counterintuitive, especially when discussing a place as inspiring as OpenGrounds. But it’s true; each person mentioned did something different because they had the courage to go against the grain.

Where do you think we would be today if Doug Garland and his company accepted the low mobile phone user estimates? Certainly not living in a world where you can compare prices, find out what song is playing, or find out how ugly you are on your phone. Yes, it’s true, the Ugly-O-Meter app does exist, but I wouldn’t recommend buying it.

David Edwards would not have invented breathable chocolate or breathable beefsteak if he had accepted that food is to be solid and to be consumed a certain way. Ok, well that’s great, but now he is working on breathable insulin to help those with diabetes.

If Richard Koshalek had listened to Mrs. Disney, the Disney Opera would be a small brick building. Now take a minute to google what the Disney Opera looks like and you’ll know that sometimes saying no produces great results.

And that’s inspiring. I hope that most of all, OpenGrounds inspires a bit of rebellion in UVA students. And I don’t mean that in a rude-anarchist type of way. I would love for students to begin thinking about the world they live in and how they can change it. I know I hadn’t until now because I was too wrapped up in everything else. I hope OpenGrounds breaks students away from the daily grind of assignments, exams, and deadlines and allows them to start thinking about how they can use their skills, and the skills of others, to think critically and create something wonderful.

Submitted by Agnes Pyrchla, fourth year Commerce student and participant in the OpenGrounds Student Advisory group.

Photography by Dan Addison. Check out more photos from the OpenGrounds Opening on our Facebook page!

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One thought on “Lessons in saying ‘no’ from the OpenGrounds Opening

  1. Pingback: Danielle’s involvement with OpenGrounds: connect, collaborate, create! – GCom Grad Life

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