Open Thinkering


Weeknote 26/2021

Dithered image of tent amongst ferns in a valley

In my last weeknote, I mentioned that we all need “critical distance from the places and people you love to be able to appreciate them properly”. That sentiment, coupled with a desire to get out into the Northumbrian hills, led me to go wild camping on Sunday night. I walked four hours, showered in a waterfall, camped on the England/Scotland border, and walked back again.

Let me tell you: this is something that would have been the proverbial water off a duck’s back for me 10-15 years ago. Now I’m 40, the trip took it’s toll on me until about Wednesday. Heat rash, sunburn, tiredness, bruising, the lot. But it was a fantastic experience, and I’m looking forward to doing it again!

I’ve been reflecting on the following quotation this week, which I read in the book of aphorisms I read on repeat:

Things in life simply don’t go according to set decisions. One glides into a new epoch, and the so-called ‘decision’ is as a rule only the final summing-up of items long since entered into the ledger by life itself.

Franz Rosenzweig

We can only plan our lives to a certain extent, to plot a course in a particular direction rather than being able to plan to the nth degree. There’s a flow to life that we have to go with, whether we like it or not. So the above quote is one way of thinking about the ways in which we tend to rationalise decisions which may have been made as much by our environment as us as individuals.

I’ve been largely in support mode this week. On the work front, I’ve been supporting charities as part of the Catalyst-funded Continuation Programme. I’ve also been putting together an updated version of the ‘Badge Bootcamp’ course our co-op ran a few years ago. Quite a few things have changed in the meantime!

As well as some business development, I also wrote and recorded a bunch of stuff:

As usual, I updated and Thought Shrapnel.

On the personal front, my wife, Hannah, started her new NHS 111 contract this week as a User Researcher. Sadly, she was only two days into it when she had to drop everything and fly down to Devon to see the family member she’s been caring for. As a result, I’ve got the kids by myself; we’ve got a routine, it’s all good. The main thing is that Hannah doesn’t have to think too much about what’s going on back at home.

Euro 2020 has been a big focus of Team Belshaw’s attention this week, it being difficult to disagree with Clint Smith’s article in The Atlantic that describes watching the tournament as a ‘near-holy experience’:

Soccer is nothing without the fans who sustain it. It is nothing without those for whom these stadiums are holy spaces, who sing anthems for both their local club team and their national team as if they were hymns that might bring them closer to divinity. Seeing the Danish fans move from terror to jubilation over the course of this tournament has been a reminder of why this game, and being in these stands, is so important to so many. It is a reminder of so much of what this pandemic took from us and, if we’re not careful, what it might take from us again.

In particular, Monday’s matches which both went to extra time and penalties were an absolute rollercoaster of emotion ⁠— and we had nothing invested in either teams other than fantasy league points! (I confess to perhaps taking a little too much delight in my team, ‘Euro, I Know, Everyone Knows’ taking top spot from my son’s team, ‘Who Ate All Depay’s’)

One thing that I’m not particularly good at doing is expressing gratitude, but once again I want to thank my family and co-op colleagues Bryan Mathers and Laura Hilliger for the emotional labour they do to make sure I’m OK. Laura in particular is always there for me on a daily basis, and Bryan always knows the right thing to say when I’m struggling a little. This week, it was all about letting go of past versions of myself. So thank you all, I very much appreciate it.

Next week is a bit up in the air until Hannah comes home, but I’ve definitely got some pre-reading to do for my course in Sustainability Leadership starting on July 12th. The pre-reading is quite comprehensive and the guidance that it will take ‘eight hours’ looks about right given the list that was sent out!

I’ve got a handover call to the digital partner taking forward the prototyping work we did around Universal Credit, the first community call about the Keep Badges Weird project we’re doing with Participate, co-ordinating with Outlandish on a potential collaboration, and more business development, course-building, and Continuation Programme support.

Dithered image of my tent in a valley on the England/Scotland border.

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