Where Can You Find Your "Scenius"?
As we develop each of our MEA campuses, we brainstorm the adjectives and experiences that might create a set of original spaces.
We were recently at our town campus in Santa Fe on Museum Hill, a 12.5-acre former Catholic retreat center and seminary in a gorgeous neighborhood (open in a couple of years). I suggested that this place would be full of "scenius," a term coined by musician Brian Eno to suggest there can be genius in a scene.
Eno wanted to counter the "The Lone Genius Myth" that creators are socially inept loners who achieve greatness in isolation. He suggested that genius is embedded in the scene and not the genes. There are ample generative examples of places and times that have been full of "scenius": the Algonquin Round Table, the Bloomsbury Group, 1920s Paris, the lofts of Soho, NYC, Burning Man, and the unique ecosystem of Silicon Valley.
As our MEA team studied what creates a "scenius," we kept seeing these essential variables:
- Firstly, there is mutual appreciation, which is like motivational peer pressure.
- Secondly, there is a rapid exchange of tools and techniques. As soon as something new is invented, it's widely shared among everyone within the scenius, thereby ensuring everyone within the scenius is united by a common language.
- Thirdly, there are the network effects of success, which means whenever there is a success, it’s celebrated by everyone within the scenius.
- Fourthly, within the scenius, there is a local tolerance for the novelties, which means that renegade, maverick, unusual, and revolutionary ideas are protected from tampering by a buffer zone. Scenius, in other words, is a flourishing space for nonconformity.
We hope that each of our MEA campuses offers this kind of communal genius, a place where people witness each other's "midwife epiphanies."
How could you create the conditions for "scenius" to emerge in your life?