As we wind down this pop-up endeavor, a comment on our collaborators. First and foremost on the George M George of 2010, whose vision was what got this collective going. George had come to my attention ten years earlier in a classroom in France, where I was offering a course called Organizational Behavior in the Masters program Cornell Hotel School had established there. My first, and lasting impression of George was that he valued laughter over all else.
By the time he was ready to graduate two years later he was well aware that my “day job” (I taught once or twice a year in the IMHI program in France those years, as part of my ongoing effort to stay connected to the students of Cornell University) leading La Paz Group would be a possible source of our connecting again at some point. Which it was, in 2004, when I made my first visit to Kerala, India. During that visit, I saw George’s commitment to conservation in the form of craftsmen, boat-builders of the old tradition, forming the hull of the first of what would become his fleet of houseboats.
When I returned two years later, those boats were operational. I had a team of Cornell graduate students with me, and they worked with George over the course of a semester to develop a sustainable operations plan for the houseboats–a fleet that he eventually expanded to ten, and which are considered the best in Kerala’s backwaters to this day.
By my next visit, in early 2010, George and I finally came upon a plan by which our two companies would collaborate. By mid-year I was back in Kerala, with Seth, to finalize the plan and prepare for Amie and Milo to move with me to Kerala full time in August. During those months of 2010, George laid out a vision for his company. It led to the creation of a joint venture in 2011, a company incorporated in India called Raxa Collective that has been communicating in these pages ever since. And starting in 2011 we invited interns, who picked up on George’s vision for his company, and our mutual commitment to conservation and community, and that became the cornerstone of a uniquely potent form of collaboration for the next few years. More on that in my next post.