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Prabhakaran: Let’s Make a Scene

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Fresh out of college in the late nineties, I moved into an appropriately dumpy West Philly group house at 45th and Larchwood. At that time, I didn’t realize that the people I lived with would become some of my closest, lifelong friends. These friendships would serve to cement my relationship with the City. 


One of these friends remarked that he loved the West Philly “scene.” I asked him to define scene and he said, “It is when people create a space or place that makes new ideas permissible.”


That notion left a lasting impression on me.  I have been intentionally joining and creating scenes ever since.


My first GPLEX experience opened my eyes to a new scene. It was like a secret door to a friendly, causal leadership space that allowed me to connect with people I knew as acquaintances in an authentic way. 


I watched people leave their everyday selves at the door. I witnessed colleagues seeing things with fresh eyes and listening with open minds.  Speakers from our host city and the local explorations acted as an injection of new ideas, inspiring thought and demanding a reexamination of long held beliefs. That type of permissibility - a renewing of one’s mind - is the precious opportunity that a scene creates, and GPLEX does it so well.


Those who know me understand I am an active, concerned, committed citizen.  I am an activist concerned about our region and the world we in which live.  I see an era of tremendous technological change, environmental upheaval, globalization, and economic polarization as a challenge we can face in a positive way for every citizen. As a change maker, I see many people who genuinely want solutions for our pressing problems, yet express a deep resistance to trying new things.


Our region’s leaders have a challenge and a duty to formulate fresh responses to new and old problems. We need to overcome our collective inertia.  I challenge all of us attending GPLEX to use this exposure to new ideas and perspectives to examine our current practices and create momentum for change. 


    > Have we tested our assumptions about the nature of our problems?

    > Are we creating learning environments that are both safe and challenging in our organizations?

    > Are we building relationships that breed trust and collaboration?

    > Are we examining problems from a range of diverse and inclusive perspectives as a team?

    > Are we using empirical data and creativity to cultivate and drive innovation?


I encourage all of us to go to Seattle and come back and make a scene of global proportions.


Arun S. Prabhakaran is Chief of Staff in the Office of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner