Happy 02021 from Superorganism! 🧵🪡

Our Second Year-in-Review!

image: a fitting screenshot for the end of this year, Ariana in one of the year’s many temporary home offices with James in the background, Tara with new pup Fia, trying to find moments to smile at each other through the cameras

Hello and Happy New Year from Ariana & Tara at Superorganism!

We have been talking a lot recently about how much we love and value rituals, big or small, well-recognized or just made up. There’s a lot about traditional holidays we could leave behind (the obligations, the stress, the gifts that no one wanted, etc.), but we do love the idea of choosing our own things, days, and ways of celebrating and marking time. The new year is one of those. Our first newsletter was written to mark last year’s Lunar New Year (read last year’s year-in-review), and this year we were excited to use the occasion as an opportunity for some collective reflecting and appreciating everything last year was (especially given everything this past year wasn’t). You’ll probably be hearing more from us about ritual this year, but the ritual design toolkit is a great place to start for anyone interested.

And so, as January comes to a close, your yearly Superorganism update:

Looking back on projects of 02020

More on each of these projects at our website

Envisioning a more open future with Creative Commons Canada

Talking about what we do with Carnegie Mellon design undergraduates

  • As big fans of the CMU design program (especially in Transition Design), we were excited to be invited by Dan Lockton and Silvana Juri to run the workshop we first prototyped at the RSD 8 Conference for CMU undergraduates on How to Talk About What We Do: Designing the Introduction.

  • We loved the energy, conversations, and thoughtfulness of design students figuring out how to put language to what they want to be doing. If any organizations or groups you’re a part of might benefit from a facilitated discussion about how we talk about our work, drop us a note!

  • We’re excited to be returning to CMU (all-virtual this time) to run this workshop for a new cohort of students this Spring.

Practicing the worlds we want at the virtual RSD9 conference

  • Prefigurative design involves the manifestation of a desired future into present practices (i.e., if we at Superorganism want a future that is more collaborative, we should practice in collaborative ways). Stay tuned for more on prefigurative practices in 02021!

  • Our workshop for the virtual RSD9 Conference was our first opportunity for a public conversation about prefigurative design. We were joined by 60+ people from around the world, and we loved seeing how quickly people were able to relate the idea of prefigurative practices to their own work and lives, no matter their background.

Government consulting on systemic design

  • We are thrilled to have our first longer-term contract as Superorganism, doing some systemic design for a government department. We are using some elements of Systems Practice from the Omidyar Group, and infusing it with our own methods that centre care.

Sharing like we mean it with Cultural Workers Organize

  • We got to put our graphic design hats on to work with Cultural Workers Organize on this report on the benefits and challenges of co-operative work based on a survey of over 100 co-ops in the cultural and tech industries. We’ve been discussing cooperative models as we dream about the future of Superorganism, and this was a great opportunity to learn more about the model and get access to resources to work toward incorporation as a worker co-op.

  • Read the report or check out our twitter thread for US, Canada, and UK coop resources.

Writing about where design meets justice

Looking back on Superorganism in 02020

Other things we accomplished and applaud each other for from this year:

  • We have a website with content! There’s an endless list of work to be done on it, of course, but it’s up and running and people have visited it!

  • We registered as a legal partnership!

  • We opened a joint bank account!

  • We got business insurance!

  • We made some money! And we knew when we hit the limits of our financial know-how. Know any Canadian tax professionals with an interest in social issues and/or worker cooperatives? Send them our way, plz.

  • We met new friends and kept in touch with old ones (or at least did the best we could in this mess of a year).

  • We were inspired by all of the super organisms and organizations out there working toward more just and sustainable futures. See some of the superorgs that inspire us.

  • We stayed friends and, for the most part, were able to make working and thinking together one of the most consistent and great parts of 02020.

Looking forward… Superorganism Visioning

A screenshot from a recent visioning session to mark the winter solstice. Backgrounds are a Carson Ellis illustration for children’s book The Shortest Day.

Last spring, we led a workshop for ourselves to better articulate our vision for Superorganism. For part of that session, we challenged ourselves to summarize our visions from different categories (our dream relationship with money, our lifestyle, our dream peer network, etc.) in a single sentence. We’ve shared some of those below (note: these are evolving!).

  • We work in a mutually-uplifting, caring, authentic partnership that embraces our individual strengths and the strengths of collective work.

  • We help people create strategies for systemic change; we help our peers implement methods that consider and create systemic change. These systemic changes bring us closer to a just, relational, sustainable future.

  • We have a collaborative, beautiful work environment that sees us as real humans with lives outside of work. Our work and life are entangled but delineated; life comes first. Our work environment is not static but occurs in different places that we live.

  • Our work is political, community-located, thoughtful, and takes seriously the diverse worlds of those it involves. It is okay with sitting in tension, and it is beautiful.

P.S. If you are interested in conducting a similar exercise for a group you are a part of, we would love to help you do that.

Things we’re interested in right now:

  • Prefigurative politics and design, care, cooperatives, ritual design, sabbaticals and remote work practices, social ecology, mending practices

Looking forward to more exploring and chatting about these things with you.

Wishing you care for yourselves and each other in 02021.
Lots of love,

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