26 Sep The Culture LP | Culture Curators
The Culture LP (Culture Lifestyle and Progress), founded in 2012 by Michael Tonge, Jasmine Henderson, and Pavel Konoplenko is a network of writers, thinkers, artists, and connectors who aim to create a lasting-impact on the world through art, action, and passion. “Principles over profits” is their motto.
Pavel and Mike sit down with us to discuss their network of young creators, and how they fit into their community.
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How did your organization come to exist, and why? What’s the founding story?
MT: The Culture LP is now is a three headed monster, but originally it was just a blog idea we kind of kick-started in college — so that was just a few posts here and there on WordPress. We all graduated in May 2012. So the idea was to have a place where progressive content could exist, just to have something for a voice that needed to be heard.
I felt that there was media that existed, but [most] of it wasn’t really speaking to what people were going through in our demographic. So I teamed up with Pavel, who I went to high school with, and Jasmine [to form the CLP].
PK: Yeah, [Mike and I] played football together! A month after I graduated [college] we randomly reconnected through Facebook I believe, or maybe it was Twitter… it was Twitter (through Jasmine). We exchange some ideas, talked about what we’d been up to since graduation and what we were into and currently doing. There was a lot of overlap. We were like “let’s write together” and started writing because we saw there was a need for content. There was a need for content that tries to define things on a greater level, in a greater sense. We talked about redefining the generation!
MT: Also, just to throw Jasmine’s piece in there… me and Jasmine linked up and had a conversation that same summer, within a week of Pavel and me reconnecting. I couldn’t tell you before or after. A mutual friend connected Jasmine and I (also through Twitter) and said “you need to meet this person!” We met over coffee / a bite to eat, kicked ideas around, and there was just a lot of potential synergy involved around everything that we all wanted to do. I’d say that summer was when we first started teaming up on content ideas. It was just the blog at that point, but I think the three of us would agree now that The CLP has really evolved into a collective that’s really connecting creative both online and offline.
PK: Well the idea, it has expanded from being more of a blog site to “how can we create a hub?” We consider connections that we’ve created through our events to be the real assets, the real value that we deliver to a community of creators. Right now it’s based in New York City creators including: artists, musicians, producers, social entrepreneurs, the list goes on and on… In today’s society the people of influence have all created something. We want to work with these people.
MT: If you look our core groups of friends, they’re progressive people — as we all kind of magnetically come together. It just happens! Cats are doing all types of different things, it’s not really an “industrial” thing, and it’s not the manufactured “you should network with your peers” thing we see in corporate experiences. It’s one of the things that motivate me to keep building with [The Culture LP team].
On a scale of 1 – 10, how much success have you had as an organization?
PK: That’s like asking how much you love your kid! Really though, I’d say 6. My expectations for everything are always grand… like always.
MT: We’ve been moving at a decent speed, I feel. When I go on my phone, look at Instagram and look at the pictures from the beginning, I can see so much progress. I’d say 8 or 9.
What are some pluses and minuses of having an organization with 3 founders working closely together?
MT: I think they all end up being pluses. I’ve worked on things by myself and it’s not as easy. When you work with people well, you look up and you’re like “damn that was dope and I don’t think I’d have been able to do it by myself!” So you automatically have this sense of gratitude whenever you complete a project together.
PK: In terms of pluses and minuses it really is a matter of perception. We took the “strength-finder’s test”, we all have like 3 overlapping qualities. On some level you could say “it would be better if each of us were more this way or that way” but I think that the overlap in similarities really accentuates our differences. I think as long as we all give input and balance each other we work well together.
What does social responsibility mean to you?
PK: it depends on how you define “community”. We’re building a community around creators. What do creators need? Let’s say one of my friends comes to me and says “hey, I need somebody to help me with my web design”, and I have a great person does web design, but am like “NOPE, I don’t know anyone!” That would be socially irresponsible!
MT: I think a big part of it is reciprocity. It’s about saying “if I can afford to lend something I will”. There has to be balance because if I lent every homeless person I ever saw money, then I’d go broke. From an organization’s perspective I’d say it’s being fiscally responsible while trying to provide the most benefit to your community as possible. Whether the reciprocity is shown through the behavior of the company (customer service, hiring local, etc.) occupying a community or through monetary gifts, social responsibility is important for us all.
I feel that social responsibility is seen more on a personal level than on an organizational one. Often you see entities have this kind of group dynamic where they hide behind where they do things that they normally wouldn’t do to human beings. Put some of these corporate CEOs in the communities that they’re affecting, for one week, and there’s no way they’re signing off on some of the awful policies they’re signing off on.
Describe the community you service in 3 words.
PK: Visionary, Passionate, Travelers
MT: Culturally progressive beings
What’s the best thing that’s ever happened at The Culture LP?
PK: I’m going to have to say our Culture LP getaway at Lake Sebago. It was a great retreat, and the effects carried over. I feel very proud about it.
MT: We went to a book release party and met some really awesome people. Everything was cool, we had a good time, we turned up but it wasn’t too crazy. We weren’t working, so it was nice to just relax with each other… Good times!