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Friends,

I loved hearing how many of you tried some of the reflection exercises from last time! Do let me know how it went. I just discovered that my friends at SYP made their own reflection booklet inspired by the Year Compass. Fun!

Speaking of reflections, last week I attended the beautiful New Public festival by Civic Signals - a gathering bringing together those who want to reimagine the future of digital public spaces. Designed with true community-first principles in mind, the event felt like an exciting conversation with a new, but already cherished friend. New Public is a magazine, newsletter and community for people who care about digital public spaces and I can't wait to see what their team does next!

As guests and speakers began introducing themselves on Discord, I felt that magical excitement that comes with discovering a new community of potential friends, collaborators and thought partners. This reminded me of the reason why communities of practice matter so much to me.

Anything we design, publish and build exists in a specific context. Our work isn't relevant in itself, it is context that creates meaning. Communities of practice are interconnected systems of interdisciplinary work. Together, they form the malleable, sticky and ever-changing mass that we call culture.

How often to we think about the wider context of our work and the systems it touches? How often do we take the time to familiarise ourselves with the systems we inhabit, directly or indirectly? Whose point of view would it be enriching to hear? How do we shape culture on an everyday basis?

I'll leave you with the wise words of theologist Raimon Panikkar: "The future is not in building a new tower of Babel, but in cultivating well trodden paths from house to house."


With love,

V.

Correlations

  • At the New Public festival last week, the Civic Signals team released the culmination of a two-year research effort focused on what makes digital public spaces flourishing and inclusive. Their work resulted in 14 white papers to be used as a tool kit. All the research, methodologies, and interactive guides can be dowloaded here. Exciting, I know! 
     
  • Even better news, the research has an entire section dedicated to belonging. lt also touches on why “social connectedness” alone is not enough to create a sense of belonging. We can feel connected to a group without necessarily feeling valued by the group, and feeling valued is essential. 

Celebrations

  • Congrats to Gianfranco Chicco for starting a new exciting job as Head of Content & Digital at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale! How cool! 
     
  • Congrats to Georgie Nightingall for getting into the Design Engineering Research PhD programme at Imperial College. We can't wait to see what new perspective you bring to conversation.
     
  • Loved reading Christian Busch's new article on cultivating more serendipity in 2021! If you haven't read his book The Serendipity Mindset yet, it's time! 

Conversations

Conversations communities around me are exploring right now: 
  • Can we occupy technology with love? (Rachel Coldicutt) 
  • Why is "welcoming" such a big part of hosting? 
  • What does fierce hope look like on a daily basis? 
  • The coffee house of the 17th century served as the principle convening place because it gathered all information and news. The discord itself was the gathering area. Which digital spaces play this role for you now?

Appreciation

Thanks to:
  • Sarah Drinkwater for telling me about last week's festival! 
  • Mel Kahl for always being up for nerdy chats 
  • My lovely colleagues in team EMEA(+Larry) for keeping me sane in the self-isolation madness
  • The only and only Mary Hurd for the beautiful isolation flowers 
  • My beloved Point People for the continuous systems thinking you bring into my life
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