Sometimes you have to go with it.
That’s why about two years ago Design Kompany set up an offshoot to simply focus on the art of conversation. Dialogue, great dialogue, is THE key ingredient in any well-orchestrated creative process. They have all kinds of words for this, but the big idea is that you have to come to the table ready and open to sharing. And that doesn’t mean sharing just what YOU think. Most of the work is in listening.
The grand experiment
To get better at it ourselves, in 2012 we did a “Year of Dialogue,” dedicated to making space for meaningful offline conversation. Enter Orangutan Swing.
We didn’t know what was going to happen, at the start. Had we had to apply for a grant for what we wanted to do, we probably wouldn’t have gotten it. (I did apply for one, and that’s how the idea got crystallized, but it got lost in the mail. Yet, I’m somehow glad about that. It was fun to just go ahead and try it.)
Academics doesn’t mix well with the creative process, and eight years into DK, Akira and I were too far in, too committed because we’d seen the beauty of real transformation in people that can come of a solid, clear dialogue. And the conditions required to do it started to become clearer over the 32 roundtable conversations. People cry. They change their whole lives. They thank us. This is the reward.
Practicing dialogue through the Orangutan Swing roundtables was great, but then what do you do with it? To share what we’ve gathered, in 2013 we’re doing STITCH. And Akira’s taken it to heart to completely organize and run this Kickstarter to raise funds for it. Only six days away and we’re at 15%, with 52 backers at the time of this update.
The last time I saw him like this–managing a lot of tasks all at once–was when he headed up the World Beer Festival here in Durham in 1999. The time before that was when he organized the Ultimate Allnight Bash at N.C. State, where we worked together on such events, in 1994. Oh, and when he had to do his thesis, too. “Give me some space,” he said. I took it personally, back then. But all this time later, I know when Akira needs space the best thing to do is to make myself scarce. With our son, preferably. And that’s what I’m doing.
But while the boss-man sleeps, I have time to give you this update on the importance of STITCH to us.
Why it matters.
Why does anything matter, anyways?
That is the apathetic feeling I remember having about Americans in general in the three years I was living in Ireland with Akira, after we eloped.
What does anyone give a damn about, anyways, that doesn’t have to do with something completely self-serving?
I mean, sure, altruism is a four-letter word to some people. But why does it have to be?
Why does anything have to be anything?
What if we could dream, though? What if we were allowed to do something very simple, like think together as a small community of people who live in one place about what we’d like it to become?
Visioning doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t need a suit and tie, or Power Point. You just need to be good at dialogue.
And after the practice, we concocted STITCH.
Here are the words, all top 276, gathered from more than 500 people in Durham about what they want to see it be. The larger the word, the more people who said it.
A picture, right? A picture’s worth a thousand?
Words change us.
They shape us.
The quantum physicists knew this, and they told us that just by observing something the physicality of it changes. It changes. That means with our thoughts, we can move atoms around. With our words, we can drive whole new ways of being into actually, well, being.
That’s why this is important.
It’s Eastern, sure, to set your intention and to clear your mind when you come to the table. Zen. That’s because we’re totally influenced by Japan, where we spent a year together in that early time in our lives together, too. White space. Quiet reflection. Not trying to be right about everything all the time. Even embracing uncertainty, because at the end of the day, there are really no guarantees.
I lost people in my life, at all points, to various ailments or just old age. So does everyone. Pain comes. Sometimes work isn’t what you want it to be. Sometimes things don’t work out with a foetus, or a child, or something else. That’s life, we say. Throwing our hands up in the air.
But when something hard hits us, really hard, I mean, what do most of us who are truly affected do?
Make some big changes.
Quit, remarry, or take that all-important trip.
Go to where the thing is that the heart craves, because only when we’re made to face Death are we able to see Life, and what we have of it, and take it. Embrace it.
Durham is just a testing bed for an idea that wants to go places beyond North Carolina. STITCH is already in motion for us as we plan a move to India to work on how to create meaningful dialogue with an intriguing and experimental group who’s invited us that’s based in Sikkim.
Of course, it’s not the easy thing to do. It’s easier to stay. But why? Why not dream up something, and set an intent, and go see what comes of it?
Maybe we’ll even learn a thing or two.
STITCH has a kickstarter underway for just a few more days. Last week to back it, so please kick in here, and help us spread the word, too. Because dreaming is becoming, and becoming is the joy of life.