At NEWaukee, we strive to create moments of deliberate serendipity.

But, you might ask, isn’t that an oxymoron?

If serendipity is defined as, “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way,” then how can it possibly be deliberate?

Serendipity happens at the intersection of opportunity and meaningful connection. When you bring people together for a common purpose, in an environment purposefully designed to encourage connection, serendipitous moments can occur.

Our lives are becoming more and more insular, siloed, and – as data suggestslonely. Research shows that, despite having more than 24 billion devices connecting us, we’re growing more socially isolated.

But you can’t simply throw a bunch of random people together in a space and hope that serendipitous connections will occur. Loneliness can persist even in busy open offices, coworking spaces and high rise towers.

2018, 8th Annual Urban Island Beach Party


Being in close proximity to other people isn’t enough.

To truly create deliberate serendipity requires thoughtful programming that combines a blend of intentionality around content with an openness to the unexpected. For our process at NEWaukee, we use the term social architecture the conscious design of an environment that encourages a desired range of social behaviors leading toward a goal.

To encourage serendipity, you need a deep understanding of how people move through spaces, how to get people to take action, and how to make people feel like they belong.

We recently received this story of a serendipitous moment from one of our earliest events:

“My now husband was visiting the US and Canada with his friends from Austria. He is a Packers fan, and convinced his friends to stop at Lambeau and they stopped one night in Milwaukee. I met him that night at the first annual Urban Island Beach Party and we went back this year as a married couple to celebrate.”

The first Urban Island Beach Party was – in itself – a product of serendipity. The island party we hosted off the coast of Milwaukee in Lakeshore State Park shouldn’t have worked. That first year, back in 2010, we didn’t have enough bathrooms, lights, security, food and drinks. And yet, despite all of those issues, over 3,000 people came together to listen to the music, dance in the prairie grass and watch the orange sunset together.

2011, First Annual Urban Island Beach Party

In a way, we hosted a giant party by mistake. But, somewhere in that crowd, in that experience we had created, two people met who would go on to fall in love and get married.

Stories like this are why we continue to do the work that we do at NEWaukee – connecting people to new friendships, relationships, jobs, business partnerships and more.

Want to try creating some deliberate serendipity in your own life? Here are 3 tips:

  1. Get outside your comfort zone. Change up your regular schedule and try something new. Work at a different coffee shop, go to a new event or switch up the route on your morning jog. You might just meet someone unexpected!
  2. Be constantly curious. Disconnect from technology, look around you and really observe your surroundings. In our daily routines, we tend to get tunnel vision. There are likely opportunities for connection and inspiration that you’ve been passing by.
  3. Just say hello. Talking to new people can feel intimidating and uncomfortable, but try to remember that most people are probably feeling the same way you are. The worst they can say is that they aren’t interested in talking to you, which is 100% their loss. Or, who knows? A simple hello could change your life.
2019, Floating Lanterns at the 9th Annual Urban Island Beach Party


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