Day 2 started off at House of All, a coworking space that also has a laundry mat and coworking food shop! It's a cluster of several cool little buildings that have been converted into a coworking space, a shared laundry mat, a co-kitchen space for chefs, and a “house of learning” (a space for hosting educative programs like ours)!
Leyla continued to lay the knowledge foundations for fellows with a fascinating dive into systems thinking. Our fellows explored what systems make up the world and Leyla explained that “everything is interconnected – and that we live in a dynamic chaotic world that makes order.” Huh? Chaotic order? That seems a bit contradictory, right?
Apparently not! As we unpacked systems thinking, exploring human systems, industrial systems and ecological systems, it all started to make sense. Everything is interconnected.
Our founder, Leyla, is a brilliant knowledge sharer – she has this unique ability to make you see the world in a completely new way. She shares things that somehow seem to make complete sense while simultaneously leaving you questioning everything you once thought to be true.
In order for the fellows to develop a better understanding of systems thinking, they grouped off to do their own systems maps of education, status, the agriculture system and gender. Our super bright fellows dove into the exercise and started to break down their allocated systems and started to see the complexity of their systems.
Just when the fellows’ brains looked like they were going to explode, we took a lunch break in the courtyard and fueled up with delicious vegan food. Over lunch, we tapped into another UnSchool tradition and everyone shared something they had brought from their home towns. Our global fellows brought maple syrup from Canada, kangaroo jerky from Australia, healing oil made from plants from the Amazon, homemade Chilean honey and tasty crickets from Mexico. Two of our Brazilian fellows, Murillo and Victor, graced us with an excellent Samba performance!
After the sharing, we jumped into our afternoon session with mentor Luisa Santiago. Luisa walked us through what seemed like her entire life journey, revealing that she has always seen herself as a (disruptive) misfit that has followed her gut. This gut instinct has led Luisa to be a journalist, a surfing gypsy in Australia, an environmental manager that scored her first job in the sustainability space in a huge consulting firm.
Luisa shared that the start of her career was so successful because she was “the person that did all the jobs that no one wanted to do.” For example, she’d jump from one part of the world to another at her organization's beckon call, from Africa to the deep Amazon to advise on sustainability within a male-dominated mining industry.
Luisa now spearheads the circular economy in Brazil and has put Rio on the list of 100 Resilient Cities. She also told the fellows that she sees “Social gaps as constant stresses that make us weak” -- an interesting way of looking at the inequality across the globe.
Luisa shared her session with Tomas De Lara ( her self-proclaimed partner in crime). Tomas blew our minds talking about gaia theory, B Corps, dragon dreaming and the thorus. He also talked through how he gets organisations to shift to a new model -- one of natural leadership instead of defined hierarchy. In addition to eliminating hierarchy, this model shifts the company’s economic model as people are paid based on the size of their family, for example.
Tomas then facilitated a peer-to-peer pitching competition through Open Space facilitation, wherein our fellows had 1 minute to pitch an idea that they wanted help with. Ideas ranged from sustainable alligator farms, to amazon retreats, to teaching the homeless to code, and beyond.
After a long and somewhat confusing voting process, we worked as a group to explore and support selected projects, including incorporating sustainability and systems thinking into a 21-day retreat that our fellow Isabel will run in a few weeks in the Amazon. (Yes, our fellows are amazing powerhouses and already have rad projects brewing.)
Our co-hosts Sara and Arturo then led a timeout for the fellows. As alumni, they know the process intimately themselves, know how intense it is, and know firsthand that fellows appreciate time to stop and process what they have been learning and doing. Everyone went around the group providing a word that described how they were feeling 1.5 days in. We had fellows feeling stimulated, emotional, anxious and ready! We then formed a circle and basically got super pumped about the changes we want to make.
After our reflection timeout wrapped, we walked back to Casa Madalena where we shared a surprise dinner with our mentors Tomas and Luisa. Two of our Mexican team members, Regina and Arturo, co-cooked for us so we enjoyed an utterly delicious veggie-centric Mexican dinner. But, before we dug in to eat, we received envelopes with secret missions -- by opening them we implicated ourselves and agreed to play this sneaky game throughout dinner. It was fascinating and at times hilarious to see the ways in which people strategized to complete their random missions.