Milenko Matanovic, Founder and Executive Director Emeritus
Milenko is a self-described “recovering artist.” He founded Pomegranate Center in 1986 believing that magic happens when art, creative thinking, and community join forces.
Since then, he has worked with hundreds of communities across the country and abroad; collaborated with communities to build more than 50 gathering places; spoken at more universities, community gatherings and conferences than he can remember; and trained hundreds of remarkable individuals in the Pomegranate Center model of community building. He has been honored with the Home Shelter Award, Legacy Leadership Award from the Center for Ethical Leadership, an honorary professorship at the University of Vladivostok, Russia (it’s a long story), and other awards.
Connecting art with community building and everyday life is just one of the ways Milenko uses his creativity to prepare communities for the future. By combining his talents as a thinker, educator and artist, Milenko hopes to create a world where neither nature nor human talents are wasted. He lives to help communities become wiser by working together to find new and creative ways to push good ideas into action.
As a young man, Milenko left a successful art career as a member of celebrated group OHO in his native Slovenia. (OHO exhibited internationally, including at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.) He turned his creative energies toward communities — each community becoming a new kind of “studio” where art, collaboration and community building converge. He has been working with cities and towns in the U.S. and abroad ever since, because he believes this is the most efficient, broad-based way to improve society. Through this work he has learned how to listen to others’ ideas so that shared solutions are possible. He believes that when it comes to community, together we always know more.
Right now, Milenko regularly teaches and speaks about community building in order to help people learn to collaborate better and be inspired to take action.