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robertogreco : cohabitation   5

RWM - SON[I]A [Natalie Jemeijenko]
SON[I]A talks to Natalie Jeremijenko about learning by living together, about the vitality and shortcomings of the environmental struggles of the past, and about how to imagine our relationships with natural systems from this point on.
learning  howwelearn  cohabitation  relationships  systems  systemsthinking  environment  nature  ecology  ecosystems  2016  health  rwm 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Dude Ranch — The California Sunday Magazine
"Even the drive to the college evokes cinematic scenes of frontier outposts: “You come down from the mountains into the valley and see off in the distance a few kinds of trees and a little cluster of buildings in an otherwise empty desert,” says Sam Contis, who has visited the school a dozen times since March 2013. “I wasn’t quite expecting the sense of scale — how small the campus is in relation to the rest of the space around it. It felt like you could blink and it would almost disappear.”"

"The last pillar is self-governance, which is a confluence of a lot of playfulness and a lot of seriousness. We ran our meetings with Robert’s Rules of Order and dealt with some tough decisions. We could have some incredibly tense, incredibly high-octane disagreements. And at the same time, we started most of our meetings with some kind of shared noise. We’d go from howling at the moon to getting into the heart of whether to let someone leave the valley or have a guest for this or that reason.

I experienced a level of comfort, of closeness, of vulnerability, of physical and emotional contact with my classmates, that I think it’s fair to say is pretty uncommon among male peer groups. But to protect that at the expense of allowing women in feels irresponsible, and I don’t think it gives the place enough credit. To imagine that having women at the school would fundamentally alter the relationships between people, that’s naive."

"I had an advantage when it came to the manual labor; I had worked on my dad’s farm and taken care of animals when I was a kid. But I was intimidated by the academics. One of the first classes I took was the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle. That was the first time I took a philosophy class, and I realized that many of my peers had read the book two or three times before. In another class, we talked a lot about the internal politics of the U.S., and they kept saying “the electoral college,” and I was like, “What are they talking about? Is that a college? Where is it?”

Every time I worked alongside my classmates, I’d have long conversations that made me a better student. I remember one particular horseback ride with a friend. We were taking this class about The Varieties of Religious Experience, and we were asking, how is it that when you think about religious experience it always has to be associated with this idea of the divine? Here we were, riding in the valley, in this huge space where there is nothing but us and you can hear everything around you — you can hear the footsteps of the horses, you can hear sand blowing. How is that not given the same form of authority as someone dreaming that they talked to God?"

"There’s this paradox of Deep Springs, because on the one hand, it’s billed as this isolation experiment, but the reality is that it’s the most social experience I’ve ever had. I really started to feel it in my second year — the amount of obligations that piled on throughout the week, everyone being in one dorm."

"When I got there, my first memory was settling into the room where I was staying, and there were two students curled up together on the bed reading Emily Dickinson. Then I poked my head into another room at night where the student body was having what they call a “boojie.” There were 15 guys dancing to Kesha and Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. At that point, I just had no idea how I could possibly stay in that space. But by the end of my time, I learned to dance at Deep Springs in a very real way."
deepspringscollege  2017  photography  isolation  self-governance  sfsh  democratic  education  learning  colleges  universities  social  samcontis  ericbenson  cohabitation 
may 2017 by robertogreco
No Dickheads! A Guide To Building Happy, Healthy, And Creative Teams. — Medium
"There is a perpetuated myth within the design community, that a single visionary is required to build great products. Rubbish. Great teams build great products; moreover, in my experience, the greatest teams prioritize and nurture a healthy and positive internal culture because they understand it is critical to the design process itself.

In 20 years of leading design studios and teams, ranging from a small boutique consultancy to several in global corporations, I have become obsessed with the differences between a successful studio and a merely effective one. Inevitably what makes or breaks a studio depends on its ability to evolve skills and competencies while remaining fastidiously creative. However, simple adaptability is not enough. In an ever-changing hyper-competitive landscape, what I’ve found to be even more important is the value of laughter, empathy, a collective responsibility and a distinct lack of ego.

My measure of success — beyond incredible products — has been creating studios and a studio culture where the creative capacity of the collective team is palpable; where designers love to come to work, and visitors remark how positive and creative it feels.

The following, is an attempt to create a guide for the (often-overlooked, humanist leaning) behaviors that make a studio happy, functional and sustainable. I believe there is a straight line between how the studio feels, how we as designers treat each other, and the innovative impact of the team. The value of articulating the characteristics of an effective studio will hopefully make each team member a more conscientious contributor. Of course, these characteristics will ebb and flow to varying degrees and should not be considered concrete rules. Rather, these behaviors serve as a guideline for creating a consistently positive, and as a result, a consistently more creative place to work.

SAY GOOD MORNING AND GOOD NIGHT … While it may appear trivial, the act of observing (and even encouraging) these subtle cultural rituals increases a studio’s functionality by making it more personal.

BE OPTIMISTIC, EMBRACE FAILURE, AND LAUGH MORE… Design, through a humanist’s lens, sees optimism as a choice and creativity as an optimistic act. Therefore, constant optimism is a key ingredient to iteration. It fuels the persistence and tenacity necessary for sustaining the creative process, especially during challenging times. For example, the difficulty of innovating within a large corporation reflects a work environment where people often say, “No” or “I don’t understand” because change in corporate culture is often uncomfortable and slow. As a result, negativity must be confronted and countered — not just in a brainstorming session or during a proposal — but on a daily basis. …

EAT AND COOK TOGETHER … Team events within a big corporation are set up to facilitate these informal conversations but often do the opposite: you go to a nice restaurant, everyone orders expensive food and lots of wine, they drink until they get drunk, and you go back to your hotel room. One year, our budget ran low so we thought, “What if we did the opposite? Go to the wilderness, buy food, and cook for each other.”

What happened next was amazing! Somebody invariably took responsibility for cooking, another for preparing food, and someone else for laying the table. Without much discussion the whole team was buzzing around the kitchen, like a hive working towards a common goal. There’s something inherently vulnerable about cooking together and for each other. It’s humbling to serve and to be served.

GOOD STUDIOS BUILD GOOD WALLS It is important when you walk into any studio that you feel as much as see what is being built — the studio should crackle with creative energy. Specifically, I believe you can determine the health of any design studio simply by looking at its walls. …

READ FICTION … As designers we are often asking people to take a leap of faith and to picture a world that doesn’t quite exist. We are, at our essence, doing nothing more than creating fiction and telling good stories — an essential part of human communication. Wouldn’t it then make sense to, at the very least, invite fiction into the studio or at the most encourage it to flourish?

Storytelling is a craft. It’s emotional and it’s part of the design process. We should therefore read and study fiction.

DESIGN THE DESIGNING There’s one very simple rule when innovating: design the process to fit the project. …

EMBRACE THE FRINGE I believe creative people want “to make”. In corporations or complex projects, the products we make often take an inordinate amount of time. As a result, I assume that most designers (myself included) work on fringe projects — creative projects made outside of the studio. …

MIND YOUR LANGUAGE Language defines the territory of projects. It is therefore important to constantly check that people share the same understanding of a word, phrase or name. Ideally at the outset of the project you should define the language, almost to the point of giving each person on the team a list: when we say this, this is what ‘this’ means. This pedantic approach is particularly important in multicultural studios where a diverse language encourages multiple, sometimes volatile, interpretations …

MEET OUT IN THE OPEN There are very few highly confidential things in an effective studio, so why go in a room and close the door? Instead, move most conversations out in the open. They will be better as a result. …

EVERYONE LEADS AT SOME POINT … At any point everyone should feel the responsibility, or the opportunity, to lead. It is so important to be collectively responsible. No one person can lead these dynamic projects effectively in a studio because they are never two-dimensional. …

INVERT EVERYTHING Designing products for people requires that you get inside their minds, feelings, motivations and values. To do so, a smart designer must invert their own worldview and see the world through someone else’s eyes in order to empathize with them. This ability to empathize with others, a very humanist behavior, is perhaps the most important capability and characteristic of both a studio and a designer. …

HIRE A BOOKIE Competition motivates a team, that’s a given. But betting on shit seems to be galvanizing and brings a team together. …

BRING THE OUTSIDE, INSIDE … We spend most of our time with our colleagues at work rather than with our partners or families. So whether we like it or not, we are all going through this life together. We should embrace that fact.

Yes, I understand people value privacy and you must respect that boundary. But the reality of the modern studio is that boundaries often blur. In fact, I think it is good that they are blurred. Children, pets, and hobbies — shared human connections and interests — promote this intimacy. …

….. ALLOWED! … I believe it is a perpetuated myth that great products are built by a single visionary. Often the people who think they are visionaries are just egomaniacal Dickheads. I honestly believe that great teams build great products and that careers are made by people that prioritize great products first, not their own ambition. …

FIND A GOOD MIRROR The studio mirror is a distinct role and a job title. In our studio Luke’s role was to archive our work and reflect it back to the team in a unique way, much like the documentation of these principles. Pursued with persistence and the eye of a journalist, the Studio Mirror should capture not only WHAT is being made but HOW and by WHOM. This isn’t simply dumping files on a server but rather curating the content in a way that is compelling and consumable for the team. For example, our studio created a quarterly magazine. You can read ADQ2.1: The Launch Issue here."
rhysnewman  lukejohnson  teams  creativity  studios  openstudioproject  lcproject  2015  collaboration  tcsnmy  leadership  open  openness  transparency  process  fun  play  intimacy  sharing  language  storytelling  fiction  walls  design  place  work  food  optimism  failure  laughter  howwework  conviviality  cohabitation  facetime  relationships  publishing  reflection  documentation  jpl  omata  culture  fringe  display  planning  outdoors  criticism  connection  conflict 
march 2015 by robertogreco

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