Many different versions

October 29, 2020

A few years ago, I had the chance to become a certified yoga teacher. Besides doing a whole lot of downward dogs, my teacher training required me to consider what it really means to ‘hold space.’ How you create – and maintain – space for a group of strangers to feel safe, supported, and open.

When we talk about co-design, it’s not long before we bring up the need for creating safe spaces.

It would be difficult, if not unethical, to facilitate a participatory discussion, design or decision-making process without everyone in the room feeling safe.

But, much like when I was training to be a teacher, I wonder if the way we talk about safe spaces leaves room for all the nuances of what it means to feel safe. Safe for whom? And who gets to decide what that looks like? Something to think on.


A Tale of Two Cities

There’s the city that some residents praise as a kind of eden … And then there’s a whole other city.

I listened to this podcast a long while back, but it popped into my mind when I sat down to think about safe spaces this week. Al Letson reports on Portland, Oregon, a place that for some, can feel like the ultimate “paradise” – but for others, more like “purgatory.” What feels safe to me, might not feel safe to you.

Participant Wellbeing Pack

Bright Harbour Collective, And Good, and Mary Coyne, a clinical psychologist, created this open-source ‘pack’ for researchers and designers to care for the wellbeing of their participants. Inside, you’ll find wellbeing tips and signposting to various support services. (As an aside, in the past I’ve used Bright Harbour Collective’s consent template as a starting point, would recommend.)

What do young people say they need to feel safe online?

Barnado’s provides services for vulnerable children and young people. This project comes from their digital team, who’s been working with young people who use their services to understand what they need in order to feel safe online. While this leaves me curious about their process, the insights are interesting to read through.


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