Sat, Jan 25, 2020
Hello and Happy New Year from Ariana & Tara at Superorganism! We know we missed the New Years greetings window, but we made it in time for the Lunar New Year instead! 🎉🐀🎉
This is for you. We’ve been reflecting on the incredible and serendipitous network we’ve created over the past couple years. Thank you for the thoughts you’ve helped us think and all of your support! It means a lot to us and helps make forging a different path for ourselves feel possible.
Introducing Superorganism. While working together on our collaborative major research project as graduate students at OCAD, we formed Superorganism. Superorganism is a design collective that helps communities and organisations transition to more just, sustainable, and relational futures. Our approach combines systemic design theory and research, strategic foresight, and creative and participatory engagements. Follow along with us through our newsletter to stay updated as we grow and evolve! (Yes, we are sending this to you, but we did not subscribe you on your behalf—you have to opt-in for future news!)
Why “Superorganism”? Societal transitions do not come about only through the contributions and actions of individuals. They will not simply be the result of us humans making more ethical choices about what we eat, how we get around, the type of work we do, or how much waste we produce. Nor are these transitions solely dependent on change from the top: from the oil executives, the politicians, the tech giants, the invisible hands, etc. People, organizations, communities, and activists are already doing so much to open pathways to alternative futures. Transition happens when we see all of these projects not as individual organisms of change, but as a superorganism, a distributed movement that recognizes the power and necessity of anyone at any point in the system to work toward better futures.
It wouldn’t be a New Years Letter without a year in review!
The year in fun. In 2019, we spent our time on a writing retreat in a Montreal blizzard, hosting fire pits in Dufferin Grove, cooking for each other, swooning over Arturo Escobar’s book, thinking about feminist ways of collaboratively researching thanks to an OCAD course with Maria Belén Ordonez, giving lots of love to our old road bikes, enjoying season two of the OA and Fleabag, and finding ways to make vegan desserts out of sweet potato (carrot cake with Japanese sweet potato frosting is a top fave).
The year in projects. In February, we worked with an environmental non-profit in Yellowknife to research and imagine what a sustainability-focused innovation hub could look like in Canada’s Northwest Territories. This project was integral to our Major Research Project, Designing Futures with Care: Finding Our Way to Different Worlds Together, which we completed in May. We presented a poster on principles-based designing and ran a workshop on introductions in October at the Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium in Chicago. In December, we conducted a remote visioning and foresight session for Creative Commons Canada.
Website We will be launching our new website soon—stay tuned!
Newsletter This is the first issue of a more regular newsletter. We’ll be writing about current projects and thoughts we are thinking on topics like systemic design, transition, degrowth, community, care, alliances and activism, and everyday practices of change. Subscribe!
Virtual mending circle In the spirit of repair culture and exercising a politics of care, we are setting aside time for a virtual call to mend with each other. It will be a time and space to chat about mending our things, mending ourselves, and mending the systems we are a part of. We’re planning our first call in February and we’ll send more details in our next newsletter.
Introductions workshop We had a great discussion at an activity group we facilitated at the Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium about the ways in which we introduce ourselves as designers (and as people, really). It helped us think through how we could make introducing our work more intentional and meaningful. Stay tuned for a workshop breakdown and some materials you can use if you’re interested in exploring introductions on your own.
Tara is living in Waterloo, Ontario, spending a lot of time with her family, and getting involved with (a few too many) projects. Since returning from a long sailing trip she undertook with her dad this past summer, she has been working remotely for Dene Nahjo, an Indigenous innovation collective based in Denendeh (the Northwest Territories). She recently became the coordinator for a “social innovation lab” run out of the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience that is looking to bolster the social purpose enterprise ecosystem across Canada. She has also been spending a lot of time learning and thinking about degrowth, mushrooms, and fiber arts with friends locally. Tara is looking forward to grounding herself in community-based transition projects as she reconnects to her roots in her hometown after a decade of living elsewhere.
Ariana is currently in Cape Town, South Africa with her partner. She’s been on the road since this summer, rambling from west Texas up the US east coast to Toronto before returning to North Carolina. Abroad, she’s been grappling with finding friends and community engagement in temporary spaces. She’s been working with a local urban farm, visiting the market it supplies, and cooking with the beautiful produce she’s helped harvest. When not being humbled by trail running or exploring the city, she’s been devouring all sorts of books via the Charlotte Public Library on her e-reader (she’s a new convert–truly the best way to read a lot and travel light). She is excited to bring back new practices learned from the unique pace and stories of South Africa. Ariana looks forward to combining her loves of storytelling, doodling, and creative documentation to bring more Superorganism philosophy to the public.
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Thank you for reading and for caring about us. Lots of love,
Ariana & Tara