- Izzy, The Fountain
As part of a course I'm taking on Design Thinking (
#DT4i for you Twitterbugs) classmates and I have been out on the streets of Toronto, exploring the things that connect individuals with something more - nostalgic memories of a happy childhood or enduring ties to a community of faith, geography, ethnicity, ideas.
Through the process, we've come across a lot of people with no ties - no fond memories of the past, no faith in the concept of community, or perhaps saddest of all, personal connections to a community that, when probed, are smoke and mirrors.
Those with no sense of belonging tended to be jaded, withdrawn, contained, like a closed vessel. Those wanting to belong were like an open hand, grasping, taking any strands as a touchpoint no matter how loosely they were grounded.
There was also a teacher who turned the ideas of nostalgia and belonging on their heads. For the teacher, creating memories of experience for their students was what mattered; creating a space their children could belong in was their focus. They were investing, creating community and finding themselves through the process.
Recently I've met the most remarkable person, a true empath with an almost uncomfortable ability to understand the emotional framework of individuals, structures that people often aren't aware they are shaped (or constrained) by. This woman self-describes as a giver, which is apt; how she replenishes, lord knows, but the ability makes her a magnet for people.
But when in darkness, we all move towards the light, don't we?
Community is a fragile thing, made up of fragile people. But that fragility isn't weakness - it's openness. Is that by design?