Day 3 kicked off with a question-filled breakfast where fellows found a small card on their plates and were asked to chat with others around the key question. Zubin Sharma, our mentor for the morning, had planted these prompts as food for thought and a great introduction to his morning session.
Zubin started off by sharing his personal journey from growing up in upstate New York to living and running Project Potential in Bihar (in eastern India). His personal story of discovering his purpose and passion provided the foundation for his session on exploring and understanding our own individual purpose on why we do what we do. He asked the group to pair off and ask each other 5 key questions: Who am I? What do I do? Who do I do it for/with? What do they need? How do they change as a result?
Then the fellows quickly developed a purpose statement in 10 words or less, and shared them back further distilling their vision for their personal change-making career. Zubin shared some magic tips to power them up:
Use the silence
Speak every word
Make sure everyone is with you
Kindness, passion, transition, action and sustainability were all recurring themes in the purpose statements shared by the fellows. Constructive feedback loops within the group increased the strength and conviction behind these statements, making them extremely powerful and convincing.
We then continued to bring our personal stories into a public narrative, to find new ways of framing the stories that engage and activate others. Zubin’s session ended with a reflection on how to tell human stories with dignity and respect, and how personal experiences form the base of powerful stories.
The conversations continued through lunch, a tasty and colourful spread of vegan Indian food made locally by a magician of a chef (she uses no oil, and we could not figure out how she added so much flavour!). Fully charged, we ran through a spontaneous mini workshop with Leyla, who built on the morning session and provided tools to create our own theories of change.
The afternoon sessions kicked off with a visit from Madhuvanti, Design Director of Taxi Fabric, who shared her story as a textile and product designer creating collaboration opportunities for artists. Her organization matches taxi drivers and local artists together to design the interior of taxis with fabrics that tell stories about the city. We learned about their business model, methods, and had thoughtful conversations about culturally influenced branding.
Then it was time for afternoon chai and a ridiculously funny game of biscuit toss that filled the space with laughter and energy as we tried to toss cookie pieces into each other’s mouths. The afternoon progressed into a deep-dive workshop with mentor Dagny Tucker, CEO and founder of Vessel, where we dissected cultural norms, structural violence, the impacts of industrialization, and were given tools to identify leverage points for intervention.
Dagny led the group into the root cause of un-sustainability, connecting it to the industrial revolution and the deep-seated need for conspicuous consumption. We discussed opportunities through social life cycle assessment, and she offered thought-provoking examples of the social and environmental impacts of everyday things like shoes and hand sanitizer.
The next session, led by co-host Sri, started off with the fellows asking uncomfortable questions to other. This was an experience designed to demonstrate the sensitivities of social research, and to ponder how as researchers we can be less intrusive, more empathic and ethical in how we get to the needed insights. Human beings don’t always do what they say they do, and researchers need to find ways of identifying the actual rather than conceived data. Sri shared some interesting case studies from her work as a Behavior Architect and then introduced the topic of gamification in anticipation for a fun challenge that would be offered later in the evening.
At this point, the group was extremely cognitively stimulated (and maybe a little overloaded!), so we stepped outside where our other co-host, Myrthe, facilitated a reflection session. She focused on constructing the various components discussed during the day and the emotion felt around it. The nature of the session, augmented with the outside space, brought back all the warmth, energy and joy - just enough for Leyla to challenge them to a challenge! ;) Yes! The day was not over yet as the fellows accepted Leyla’s challenge to create a gamified experience in an allocated local neighborhood, in two hours.
The group was split up into smaller groups and each provided with a specific area on the map, a few fun limitations (like only one person in the group can talk, no transport can be used, etc), and various budgets. This was to enable the fellows to apply their learnings on research, systems thinking and gamification to design an experience.
The two hours flew by and each group eagerly shared the bones of their ‘game plan’, to be discussed in more detail on... Day 4 of #UnSchoolMB.