one spark / all it takes is an idea

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Let me start off by saying we live in an idea world.

Have you ever come across a new startup, ad campaign, tweet, DIY project, logo, business model (the list goes on and on) and thought, “I wish I had thought of that…” Yep, me too. Heck, I live with the guy that makes a living wearing t-shirts. He seems to export ideas from that brain by the boatload. But I want in on the fun.

Time and time again I find myself thinking, I want to have a great idea. I want to create something special.

Of course, I know you can’t just decide that you want to have an idea. It rarely works like that. But I do believe that sometimes when the stars align just right and you’re faced with the right motivation, an idea can hit you like a spark of true magic.

And that’s what happened to me recently.

Two weeks ago, I was attending a Town Hall event for One Spark here in Jacksonville. One Spark is a crowdfunding festival – the first of its kind – to be held in April over the course of five days. “Creators” (that’s artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, musicians, anyone with an idea) come to show off their work and to potentially get funding. The public votes on which Creators they support, and based on the voting, $250,000 of the crowdfund (raised via Kickstarter) is dispersed. This is on top of individual monetary contributions that can be made on the spot by the public, plus a possible $1 million from the STACHE Investment Fund in Jacksonville. So no excuses about not having the funding to make your idea happen. This is that chance.

Pretty awesome, right? I’ve been enamored with this idea from the second I heard about it, but this event was the first I had attended to hear the founders speak about why they started it and what it takes to sign-up. “All it takes is an idea,” Elton, one of the founders said. He went on to say something to the effect of, “I know there are those of you out there thinking, I’ll just wait until next year. I’ll stand on the sidelines this time because my idea just isn’t where it needs to be.” That struck a chord with me because honestly my first instinct IS to stand on the sidelines. I hate jumping in the deep end. I like to think and plan and let things marinate. But I thought about what would happen if every person sat back and decided to wait until next year. That would mean this landmark event in our city wouldn’t be as great as it could be.

As I sat there, Laura Mayes’ words were ringing in my ear, the ones I heard at Alt Summit, “Be BOLD in the pursuit of delight.” I knew how much joy it would bring me to be a Creator at One Spark. Spending time with other creative people, contributing something to the universe, feeling a part of the entrepreneurial community in my beloved home town, and most important, making something special. And so I dared myself to do it.

I turned to Jason and said, “I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna sign up to be a Creator.”

Jason: “Awesome. What’s your idea?”

Me: “Oh, I haven’t come up with it yet.”

He may or may not have looked at me like I was crazy. (Luckily, this is a look frequently exchanged in our relationship and one that does not in any way deter me.)

Just making the mental decision to participate was enough to get me excited. I made a couple caveats for myself in terms of what kind of “idea” it needed to be. It had to be: authentic (something that spoke to me truly and not just something random or forced), helpful (including an element of utility for other people), and movement-based (something that required participation from other people to be successful.)

I know, I know, it’s a tall order. But, I told myself if an idea didn’t hit me before the registration deadline on February 22nd, then I’d just sign up to be a volunteer instead. No  biggie.

Now, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this approach. I’ve never been a big fan of forced creativity and being put on the spot to come up with something while mindful of a deadline is not really my jam. But in this instance I think the motivation was the spark that my brain needed to put the mental pieces together.

The following day, a Friday, I was driving in my car, exiting the interstate, and literally it just hit me. Maybe it was because I was so excited about One Spark and I had all these thoughts already bouncing around my head, but in a true magical moment, I felt my brain say to itself, “What if….” and then it never stopped. The small nugget of an idea grew and grew and before I knew it I had this multi-dimensional, somewhat defined albeit crude IDEA. And I kind of loved it. It’s nothing grand or mind-blowing, but it fits my three requirements and so it is perfect for me. I was so excited I actually pulled into a parking lot and wrote down everything I was thinking. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.

I’m not quite ready to tell you guys what it is, and I hope I’m not building it up too much (really, it’s nothing ground-breaking, I promise), but I can’t tell you what it means to me to  actually register as a Creator. Even if nothing comes from my One Spark experience, just being a part of the event and not waiting on the sidelines will be worth it.

We live in an idea world, and for once I had the distinct pleasure of knowing what it feels like to be a part of that world.

I can’t wait to evolve my tiny idea into something bigger. I have no prototype, no website, no plan yet, just an idea. Which is fine, because the beauty is, for this event that’s enough. Truly all you need is one spark. :)

I hope you guys will keep up with me as I take you through the process, and I hope some of you will be inspired to join me as Creators. Remember, anyone can register and you don’t have to live in Jacksonville! One Spark has Creators coming from all over the world to share their work. Don’t just sit on the sidelines, make it happen! Check out the video below for more info on how it all works or visit to poke around!


  • cindy brown

    I can not wait to see what you come up with!!! this is going to be awesome!!! I am happy you are going for it!!!!!

    • Caroline

      Thanks as always Cindy!

  • Val Herrmann

    Thanks for your inspiration! See you there! <3

    • Caroline

      Thank YOU, Val, for stopping by! See you then!

  • Tia Sandstrom Levings

    this place, this “should I do it this year or not?”, is right where I sit. I’ve missed the town halls have followed from a distance- but I have an idea that won’t let go. It’s like standing at the top of the high dive, dancing from foot to foot, trying to decide if I should jump.

    • Caroline

      Jump, Tia, jump! I’m serious! I know exactly how you feel. But that nagging feeling in your gut, the one that keeps this idea in your head and won’t let it fade into the background of your consciousness… that’s a sign it’s important to you! If you’re like me there are problem a million things that could stop you from doing it – your idea’s not totally there, you don’t know how you’ll get it done, you want it to be perfect, etc. But I promise you, mine is literally just a hint, just a shadow of an idea and I’ve decided to go for it, so I encourage you to do the same. If nothing else I’m doing it so that I can say I helped contribute to this amazing opportunity for this city we all love. So what’dya say? Are you in?