Compassionate. Generous. Kind. Caring.
Last week we dedicated time to reviewing the last 12 months' work. We undertook this task with our critical friends Divya and Soumo. We shared openly and honestly then asked them to bounce it back to us! Our aim was to deepen our narrative and strengthen our practice.
We reflected on the hiccups; on the moments where we held our heads in our hands or were brought to metaphorical tears. We celebrated our achievements: the milestones, the feedback from partners, participants and the outreach team. What we were left with after the session were images, words, feelings, threads that we have now woven together to share with you.
What we learnt...
The most striking moment for me was the words Divya and Soumo used to describe People Street. We are so used to using jargon that I was waiting for the buzz words. But they didn’t come. No mention of design justice, inclusive research or co-design. This is what they said:
Compassionate “You are considerate of the community you serve.”
Generous “…openly sharing learning whenever invited or through blogs.”
Kind "…because you are small and nimble you can take a human approach.”
Caring “You care about the participants, they aren’t numbers you’ve reached online. They are people you build relationships with over time.”
Though I was happy to be associated with such positive terms I was not satisfied that they had heard us properly. I caught myself in mid-thought “these attributes were soft and fluffy”. So, I stopped to look. Why? Because making value-statements clouds your ability to look deeply and that was the opposite of what I wanted from the session.
I went through my notes again, and what I saw made me smile. I realised that the ingredients of our practice are indeed compassion, generosity, kindness and caring. We are all these things to each other, to the communities we serve and our partners. What I am saying here is that you can do all the other things I’ve shared with you in the past, but if you bypass these key ingredients, your research souffle will not rise!
I took it for granted how much our values are intertwined with our approach. In the spirit of generosity, I have been sharing as much of our process as possible, as simply as possible. But the problem is that this work is complex. It's layered. Much like the souffle, we can't just throw in a bunch of ingredients and hope for the best. No easy recipe here. Sorry.
The good news is that we can use 2024 to come up with new standards for research…inclusive, heart-warming, souffle-like research. We have a variety of research projects lined up in 2024. I will be sharing regular blogs about live projects, reflecting on our practice to surface what makes good research possible. Using practice development to build standards and toolkits for inclusive research over the course of the year.
I hope that by January 2025 we have found ways to capture the complexity in an accessible and easy to understand format. As always, please reach out with your experiences and questions so together, we can build a better tomorrow for everyone, everywhere.