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There’s plenty of research that suggests working inside for too long stifles creativity and innovation. Cortex Commons, with special events manager Jessica Labozzetta, at the helm, is working to combat that fatigue. She’s been working with the Cortex community coordinating stellar events and activities to keep the startup crowd’s creative juices flowing.
A place for people to connect and create new experiences, the Cortex Commons events calendar is a partnership between Cortex and Venture Cafe. Last year, Venture Cafe hosted several successful events including performances and meetups with the goal of creating an active and lively area to foster community among the various startups and businesses.
Since August of last year, Labozzetta has been hard at work trying to bring new opportunities and excitement to the outdoor space.
“Our mission is to figure out a way to accommodate what people want and need out of this venue but also how to make it unique so that it’s just not another event space,” she says.
There is already a bevy of events planned and Labozzetta and her team are preparing for more.
“Since there are not a lot of restaurants within walking distance, food trucks are scheduled every Monday and Friday to give people a different option for lunch. We are also partnering with Yoga Buzz, a local yoga non-profit that specializes in practicing yoga in unique places. They’ve hosted some of these at Union Station, the Planetarium, just all over,” she says. “People are really excited about yoga in a unique place—it’s surprising how much it actually helps your concentration and it helps you focus a little bit more.”
Other vendors include returning farmer’s markets on Wednesdays and Good Life Growing, a startup that grows organic produce using hydroponics.
“It’s some of the freshest produce I’ve ever seen. They pick it out an hour before they sell it,” she says.
There are even plans to extend their music performances into a recurring, summer concert series. “Lots of people came out last year to listen to Jesse Gannon and The Truth. It was so popular, so it was definitely an event we want to try and grow here.”
But it isn’t all fun and games. Labozzetta says the real payoff is when entrepreneurs start connecting more often.
“It’s one thing to be in a really great space and have really great resources but if you’re not connecting with other people, then there’s really no point,” she says. “I want people to make time go outside because you get different ideas outside. The events are just a way to help people foster conversations and exchange ideas—that’s what encourages creativity. And that’s why I want to give people that time to get out of their offices and interact with each other.”
On May 12, Venture Cafe will host the Great Race 2016: Linking the Last Mile, created by the Citizens for Modern Transit. The event will feature a relay race between two teams as they square-off between running, biking, and carpooling to reach the finish line at the Cortex Commons. The event will help to raise awareness of the current options of mass transit in St. Louis and what we can do to make alternative transportation easy and accessible.