An inside look at this year’s Nantucket Project on the Island and beyond.
Each September for the last eight years, The Nantucket Project [TNP] has brought together inspired thinkers to explore the question of “What matters most?” Five hundred attendees, members of the TNP team, and world class thinkers from the worlds of statecraft, business, technology, science, music and the arts come together at the White Elephant during the four-day event to disconnect from the outside world and engage one another in real and meaningful ways. This year’s presenters include President George W. Bush, former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong, fashion icon André Leon Talley, former NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, music producer and DJ Moby, former CIA operations officer Valerie Plame, exoneree and journalist Amanda Knox, comedienne and actress Tig Notaro and many more.
Each year’s gathering has a theme that guides TNP’s selection of presenters, the conversations that take place, and the overarching leitmotif of the event. This common frame of reference serves as a lens through which attendees, together, explore what matters most. The theme of this year’s event is Neighborhood.
“Neighborhood is where real life happens,” says TNP co-founder and CEO Tom Scott. “It’s where people connect, share, and find meaning. We believe neighborhood is the idea of our time and holds the key to happiness.” The traditional definition of neighborhood is “geographically defined area,” but as more of our daily interactions take place virtually, this explanation is evolving right before our eyes.
Key to TNP’s understanding is that while our new, globally connected neighborhood has many benefits worth celebrating, there are unintended consequences. As we’ve become more technologically connected to each other, there’s a sense we’ve grown more divided and isolated. What’s more, the phenomenon called “digital addiction” is no longer a theory, but a fact. Excessive, persistent stimulation from all our digital devices – all those pings and rings and alerts – cause dopamine stimulation, which leads to anxiety and isolation.
This has led to a yearning for more in-person, shared experiences, along with a desire to serve others and build greater trust in individuals and communities. That, TNP believes, is the essence of Neighborhood.
For years, TNP attendees have asked for ways to stay involved with the group throughout the year, hungry for a continuation of the magic that happens under the tent. One answer is in The Neighborhood Project, TNP’s offshoot dedicated to encouraging more meaningful conversation. Now offered to everyone everywhere, The Neighborhood Project is sweeping the country, with dozens of groups meeting in big and small towns across America. There’s even a group in Canada.
Participants gather monthly in small groups and watch award-winning TNP films hosted by one of the group’s guiding lights, New York Times best-selling author Kelly Corrigan. What follows is deep, meaningful conversations attendees don’t have every day. These talks are enriching peoples’ lives and changing neighborhoods. Says one Neighborhood Project participant, “The conversations we have here feed my soul. I had no idea talking like this could be so satisfying.”
“Although The Nantucket Project hosts numerous events around the country, our home is Nantucket,” says TNP co-founder, Kate Brosnan. “This is our neighborhood.”