With the gratitude lens that this week brings, I've been reflecting on how much joy, inspiration, and important conversations this newsletter brings me. Many of you noticed that a monthly cadence is a little slow, and you are right. With life flowing by so quickly right now, we need more regular collective sense-making. So let's experiment with a biweekly cadence and see where this takes us.
Speaking of gratitude, one of the things that kept me sane this year is a group experience called Tribes designed by Justine Borja. Every month, our small circle of community practitioners comes together to unpack learnings, challenges and questions. This week, in our last session for the year, we were reflecting on how incredible the experience has been. But what exactly made it work? What makes certain experiences incredibly rich in meaning and others flat? Of course, there's a lot to be said about social contracting and showing up fully. But there's also a key element that is often overlooked: facilitation. Justine is an incredible facilitator and lead our group beautifully this year. We often take the role of facilitators for granted because their work is invisible when done well, but it's crucial to creating, containing and sustaining meaning in a group.
Priya Parker, the author of The Art of Gathering, uses the term generous authority to talk about how we can facilitate events with both warmth and direction. In a time when digital connection can feel awkward, cold and even performative, we need skilled facilitators to guide us more than ever.
What does generous authority look like for you? What are you learning and loving when bringing people together?
I attended a few incredible community events by IDEO CoLab, IDEO.org and ATÖLYE that really reminded me of how much a playful and direct facilitation style can create a sense of connection in the audience. Thank you Luisa, Leen and Shuya!
Congrats to Casper ter Kuile and Holstee for launching the Ritual Life Planner. We love it!
Huge congrats to Tim Leberecht and the House of Beautiful Business team for hosting an thrilling festival! The Great Wave was powerful and I loved co-designing some of the connection mechanisms and content.
Congrats to Anne-Laure Le Cunff for launching her first online course From Collector to Creator.
Conversations communities around me are exploring at the moment:
How can we bring back a sense of excitement and awe when every day feels similar to the one before? Does play look different in 2020?
Are we going to lose our social muscle post-pandemic?
Does relationship building scale? Can it? Should it?
Should we create a serendipity machine?
My friend Mattan sends a monthly email to his friends and family. My favourite thing in there is easy to miss - at the very, very end of the email, if you scroll all the way down, in the tiniest font, you can find a list of thankyous. I'm stealing this idea, because we rarely create spaces for gratitude.
So, thanks to:
Gillian Davis for hosting a superb jazz event online. I particularly loved this quote from the musician: "the shamanic experience of being at a concert and feeling the molecules vibrating is lost on a screen, I don't think it can be adequately replaced by any technical environment".
Genevieve Wastie for being an inspiration.
Ryan Murphy for the awesome conversations about community and design.
Graham Garvie and Christina Herbach for reinventing Thanksgiving... and the generosity and mischief they gather with.
Leen Sadder for her skillful facilitation of her community event (and those slides!!).
Peter Mandeno for the most invigorating conversations about human connection.
Alex Tam, Christina Herbach, Peter Mandeno for being game to host large WhatsApp conversation as part of The Great Wave festival.
Petah Marian for the meaningful instagram polls.
Tina Roth Eisenberg for the best TikTok compilations (find them in her IG stories).
Lewis Kay-Thatcher for always bringing the best vibes.
Gemma Milne for all the awe and curiosity she approaches life with.
Shuya Gong for hosting an awesome panel discussion and for the long overdue catchup.
Thanks for being here! If you want to chat about any of these topics, please reply to this email. Let's create some digital serendipity!