At first blush the San Francisco Sailing Science Center is a project to create a cool new museum. To a person, every one of the hundreds of people I have shared this with has thought it was a great idea, both sailors and non-sailors. The idea of having a fun, interactive learning center to engage people of all ages is a no-brainer, regardless of what it’s framed around. But the fact that it’s framed around sailing is especially significant. Sailing is unlike any other activity:
You can sail at age 5, or at age 95
You can sail casually, or at the highest levels of competition
You can sail alone, or with crews of a dozen or more
You can sail on a pond, or you can take a multi-year world cruise
You can sail by feel, or you can sail with the latest high-tech
While it may be one aspect or another that draws people to sailing in the first place, I think this richness is what keeps so many involved for lifetimes.
But what about the Sailing Science Center? This will be a place where non-sailors can come, have fun, learn some science, get a greater understanding of sailing, and possibly become interested in taking up this activity themselves. To my point, we’re not building this just for sailors. In fact, the vast majority of our visitors should be non-sailors. You don’t have to be an astronaut or pilot to enjoy and appreciate the Air and Space Museum, and you won’t have to be a sailor to enjoy and appreciate the Sailing Science Center. Of course, sailors will love it, but they’re not our primary audience.
Similarly, having a museum is not our only objective. It’s the path to creating the museum that really matters. The leadership skills that can be transferred to young people; the community-building that can be done by bringing together different parties; the value of inspiring people to take on big projects; and the world-class attraction that will benefit all the Bay Area are of at least equal value.
Ultimately, the success of the project will depend on leadership. For this reason, leadership, more than any other aspect of the project, is where I am focusing my time and energy. In future postings I will delve more deeply into leadership and what this project can do create the new leaders we need in our community.