It’s official - I can stop traveling. I have found the best place on earth. And it's run by aliens.
Ok, not actual aliens, but by creatures just as wonderfully weird - children. And by those who forever aspire to be children - creatives. So where is this mysterious, magical place? Where most mysterious, magical things are - right before our eyes.
A small shop nestled between a series of offices, the Martian Embassy (known to earthlings as The Sydney Story Factory) is often overlooked by office goers (or mistaken for a coffee shop). But inside, only books are brewing, and while you won't find beans you can buy a can of 'human brains' for $3. Here, fantastic work happens outside 9-5. Success is measured in paperbacks, not paychecks. You can hold a conversation with your sandwich, pickles play the drums, and Trump is just a word that rhymes with 'jump'. Ideas flow freely, take many forms, and help shape futures.
The only real Challenge here is in protecting the most precious resource in the universe - curiosity - and giving kids AND adults the courage to stay curious. As first-timers nervously file into SSF, you feel the weight of reality dragging them down. “I’m not good at this,” “My teacher said I can’t spell,” “I have an idea, but it’s stupid” - every session begins the same. Self-deprecation starts early and is the kryptonite to creativity. But when encouraged to open their minds, these mini martians have a magical way of opening ours, and the SSF is made up of just that - open minds (and jarred brains ;). Unfortunately, those can't pay the bills, so let's pitch in to keep the lights on and the idea light bulbs shining bright.
I'm pledging my Pen to Paper Challenge to the one woman who, after 26 years, still tells me to chase my dreams. And since she's likely the only one reading this, thanks for keeping me weird, Mum. I love you!