This Rock Climbing Gym Stimulates Innovation and Creativity

What does scaling a 50-foot high climbing wall have to do with TEDx, a collaborative workspace, and veteran-focused entrepreneurship? Under our roof, everything.

What does scaling a 50-foot high climbing wall have to do with TEDx, a collaborative workspace, and veteran-focused entrepreneurship? Under our roof, everything.

Whether in Panama doing cultural mediation work, disaster response in Haiti, or working with start-ups in the U.S., I found continuity in the power of physical activity and play to unite and inspire communities. Many people are at their best creatively when they are active, engaged, and stimulated. The best work and eureka moments don’t typically come as a result of being stagnant, but instead, are had during incredible conversations, on adventures or while collaborating and helping others.

So what is manifested when social impact entrepreneurship and cultural design are integral focuses of an organization that’s core competency is the very physical and playful sport of climbing? Brooklyn Boulders Somerville (BKB Somerville).

BKB Somerville is a new experimental 40,000 square foot hybrid rock climbing and fitness facility built on the premise that physicality stimulates innovation and creativity.

Climbing marries the physical and the cerebral, as it is refreshingly challenging and creative. At the same time, problem-solving and strategy are very much a part of the sport. The experiment I undertook with the BKB Somerville team was to explore how we could design a community space and multifaceted experience that was rooted by climbing and intended to serve as a collaborative hub. Our overarching goal remains to explore how we can blur the lines between work, life, and play. Everything from the physical design of the facility to events and partnerships are intended to bring this concept to life.

It is the partnerships and collaborations we have the opportunity to establish and continue to build that exemplify the hybrid nature of the project. These collaborations range from veteran-focussed initiatives to lean start-up competitions, and collaborations with street artists.

BKB Somerville is working with Tactivate, an initiative designed to integrate former special operations veterans into the start-up community. This collaboration lead to the hiring of a Reserve Officer in the Navy who joined the team to run the facility as the General Manager, enabling the team to explore how military leadership experience and communication skills may positively impact the organization. BKB has also worked with Team Rubicon, a veteran disaster response organization, to provide a base of operations during Hurricane Sandy. The Brooklyn facility housed hundreds of veterans 24/7 for over a month, which empowered one of the largest and most effective response initiatives to the super-storm.

BKB Somerville is serving as a host and partner to HACKFit’s first 48-hour start-up event that mixes the worlds of entrepreneurship, fitness, and health on September 20-22, 2013. Entrepreneurs will work around the clock to develop fitness applications and fully viable businesses while climbing, doing yoga, and staying healthy in the process.

We built an active collaborative workspace into the facility where you can find stand-up desks with pull-up bars built in. Our community members are often seen balancing on medicine balls, hanging from the pull-up bars, and cheering on their friends climbing in front of them as they go through their e-mails. People just seem to be more productive and creative when they have the flexibility to move around and be active. The Cambridge Innovation Center, partners of BKB Somerville, continues to provide council as we develop the space, which has already served as a meeting spot for the StartUp Institute, Vita Coco, and as a venue for a collaborative sneaker launch and press event.

From slackline yoga classes to playing in the collaborative workspace to climbing on over 25,000 square feet of world class climbing terrain, there are a variety of activities for stimulation and inspiration. We are motivated to create a space that our community can walk into and be inspired by the power of physicality and creativity.

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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