A glimpse of hope

September 24, 2020

I will admit, it’s been a strange year to begin writing to you all on a weekly basis. Across each week, my emotions oscillate from despondent and bummed out, to hopeful or at least reminded of how grateful I should feel. I won’t name all of the things going on in the world right now, because I know, you know.

Anyways, I hope you can forgive this small-ish pause in programming. This week is simply about hope. I suppose I could talk about how, as designers, we often approach existing services or systems with the belief that we can improve things, so they work better for people and/or for the planet. We bring energy, conversation, tools, understanding, and usually, we bring hope.

I think there are parallels to be drawn, or at the very least, maybe there’s something we can learn from our design practices, a glimpse of hope or a framework for moving forward. The following readings made me feel lighter. I hope they do the same for you.


How to build a new world in the shell of the old

We think it’s better to look around and find the seeds of a better future — perhaps dormant — in the present, and nurture them into a viable alternative that can challenge and transform the world around us.

The Symbiosis Research Collective believes in participatory democracy, community organizing, and finding glimpses of the present that we should and can bring into the future. I appreciate their pragmatic approach to building a better world. There’s little “burn it all down and start over,” and more of a will, need, and belief in the possibility to identify and start from the good that already exists.

Rebecca Solnit: Falling Together

Hope, for me, just means a Buddhist sense of uncertainty, of coming to terms with the fact that we don’t know what will happen and that there’s maybe room for us to intervene.

Rebecca Solnit, phew. In this podcast, Rebecca calls out certainty for leading us to latch onto “despondent narratives,” as she inspires us to find hope amidst complexity. If you’re more of a reader, try this piece.

Mapping our roles in social change ecosystems

This is a framework that can help individuals, networks, and organizations align and get in right relationship with social change values, individual roles, and the broader ecosystem.

Ask me to map, locate, and reflect? I’m in. This framework, created by the Building Movement Project, is for anyone who’s interested in understanding their role in the pursuit of justice and liberation. Realizing that we don’t (and usually shouldn’t) do it all, is hopeful. Understanding where we can be most helpful, is necessary.


As Arundhati Roy said:

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

This was originally published on my newsletter, Design With. It was archived in 2023.