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Creating Community: You, Us & Cross Campus

By Dan Dato — March 1, 2016

Here’s to Another Year...

Looking back on our one year anniversary in Pasadena.

By Dan Dato, co-Founder, Cross Campus

As Cross Campus Old Pasadena is celebrating its one-year anniversary this week, it’s caused me to look back on what we do and what has happened over the past year. One of the core activities that occurs at Cross Campus is business networking… People meeting new people. Whether those connections are between our hundreds of members, or between the thousands of folks that take part in the business events happening several times each week on campus, we fancy ourselves as experts in enabling and encouraging these “creative collisions”.

But, it might be more helpful to look back a bit further than one year to get a better context of who we are. My co-founder and I both come from immigrant families with parents or grandparents who struggled to reach America, attracted by the ideals and values that “freedom” and “opportunity” represented. And with that came extraordinarily deep family values and traditions.

For me, the product of an Italian household, meant that religion was ever present. Twelve years of Catholic school, church every Sunday, and years as an altar boy, religion was a part of my daily childhood life. And though my views on religion may have changed over the years, the importance of faith has not.

As an entrepreneur, faith has taken on additional meaning... The courage to have faith in myself. A faith to dare to think and act differently. A faith that I could succeed while enduring (many) failures. And more importantly, a faith to trust and depend on the people around me… My co-founders. The team of employees who shared our values & mission. Investors who shared our vision. Our customers who supported us. As I grew companies, my faith in people grew.

As we’ve grown Cross Campus over the past four years, first in Santa Monica, then in Pasadena, now in Downtown LA, and soon in the South Bay (and many other places too!), I’ve learned a lot about myself. And, as we’ve been a part of the growing startup communities in Pasadena and all over Southern California, I’ve learned even more about that oft misused word “community”, much of which goes back to my childhood experiences of religion.

What I have come to realize now as an adult, in large part because of Cross Campus and folks like Innovate Pasadena, was that religion wasn’t just about the spiritual, it was about people. The community that shows up every week, year after year. They show up when they’re happy, celebrating births and weddings. They show up when they’re sad, praying for the sick or grieving for the dead. But most of all, they show up for each other. Together, they give each other the strength they need to keep going… To do better… To succeed in the face of failures… And to help others do the same. They give each other the faith that they are not alone.

As I look back on the past year of Cross Campus Old Pasadena, I can’t help but think about the community that we’ve been welcomed into. I see it every Friday morning at the Innovate Pasadena Coffee, as the community comes together, like a Sunday morning church service, not to worship, but to share, learn and support. They come out every week, even when they don’t want to, because they know that showing up might be the helping hand that others need. And, they welcome the newbies, like they’ve welcomed Cross Campus, because they know that we all need help… No matter what our beliefs.

Here’s to another year…

Of showing up, even when we don’t want to.

Of bringing a friend, because it may help them or someone else.

Of building our lives, our cities and communities, our businesses and careers… Together.

Thanks to all for a wonderful first year from the entire Cross Campus team.

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