James Carlson

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twitter: @hypnagogic


After leaving high school at 16, James launched a successful career as an entrepreneur and technologist but never stopped looking over his shoulder at school. He founded the School Factory, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the business, education, and creative communities together to transform public learning.

In 2002, James engaged Milwaukee in creating Bucketworks, a health club for the brain. Bucketworks offers people and communities both a physical space and the tools to test-drive their ideas and their passions. Since Bucketworks opened its members have created more than 90 new programs and companies, ranging from high-tech startups to high schools, hundreds of pieces of art and technology, and thousands of events and experiences.

As the economy compressed in 2008 and 2009 and hundreds of similar spaces sprung up across America to support displaced workers and new entrepreneurs, James partnered with these spaces to form the Space Federation, a national network of creative maker environments that share resources, tools, and expertise.

Seeing the struggle faced by small to mid-sized businesses, James and his team created the Bucket Brigade, a for-profit company that brings the values of open source, open communication, and transparency into the workplace through social technology and social experiences. James wants to prepare the organizations of the 21st century to hire the best talent by bringing democratic and healthy values to workplace culture.

At the heart of these efforts is James’ fundamental passion and belief that all people are creative; each person has a “genius” which, given a place and the tools, will flourish. Through his work he strives to spark the creative potential in everyone, and change the game of economy, education, and community development.