Practice Makes..

My initial learning goals included: 

  • Uniting administrative and creative practices — thinking about all assets of the project as creative. I think this helps stretch the boundaries of possibility through each element of the process. This has been a challenge, because communication with our partner has been sporadic based on limited capacity of the museum director. As a result, there has been much time dedicated to basic scheduling and administrative tasks that really haven’t felt creative. Perhaps my initial learning goal was a pipe dream and what I learned is that you can’t always unite the admin and the creative.
  • Better insight on how to leverage technology & media in my practice. What might be helpful at this point is spending some time refining the muscle of how identity creative solutions to challenges & opportunities. I’m imagining almost a mock situation in class where we have to come up with creative solutions together for different orgs challenges, or maybe we do a rapid brainstorm for each of the other students’ projects. I feel like I’m still accessing my comfort zone of possible solutions for to address The Griot’s needs, rather than accessing new bodies of knowledge in terms of an ever more expansive and refined ability to help partners address problems in effective, sustainable and refreshing ways.
  • Have better command of the north star within my practice (I called it my ‘nucleus’, which would be why I do the work, and to what end do I think it matters). One challenge of co-design is to have a strong sense of your contributions and expertise, but also be a deep listener and collaborator with your partner. Preferencing the voice of our partner over our own sometimes makes it hard to have our own voice. For example, right now we are having an interesting situation where one of our interviewees has said something somewhat contradictory to our central partner’s insight — how are we as an outside partner supposed to navigate and critically examine this? What guiding principals do we use — our own, our partner organization’s, our individual partner’s?

Other Lingering Questions

I’m still wondering what the best tactics are to be able to address the needs of a co-design partner when you do not possess the skills needed to address their challenge. If, for example, Lois chooses to work with 3D printing, should Aki & I master 3D printing and work with her, should we bring in a new partner who is more knowledgable, or should we try to find a different tactic that addresses the need? My gut says the first, that we collectively learn to use the tools that the work is calling for. But this still remains a question! Especially with the limited time of the class it is hard to accomplish mastery of a new skill and then also apply to a real life partner where there are real stakes.

It may be helpful for me to practice in class some of the methods we have discussed, like listening method, before trying them with partners. This will give a better sense of familiarity with some of the new tactics involved in co-design that will allow us to present these methods to our partner with a deeper understand of how to enact them and what mutual benefit we will gain from engaging with them.