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Weeknote 49/2021

COVID-19 Christmas tree decoration

This week was my last full week of work of 2021. Laura and I listed out all of the things we had to do before sacking off work for the year and decided that, while there were things we could start work on, they can wait until 2022.

That includes planning Season 3 of the podcast. Our guest for Episode 6 couldn’t make it at short notice but, thankfully, we’d done a two-parter for Episode 5. The Tao of WAO is available wherever you get your podcasts.


I think it’s fair to say that I’ve eaten more mince pies than I’ve done sessions of exercise in the past seven days. This is entirely in keeping with my winter philosophy and attitude towards December in particular. The media seem to have an obsession with everyone keeping in amazing shape while also enjoying the usual festive over-indulgence. That’s obviously impossible, so I’m leaning into the carbs.

The Christmas tree went up last weekend, so we’ve had a week to enjoy that as well as the outside Christmas lights, switched on with our neighbours last Sunday. There was a gathering with a buffet and drinks afterwards for the first time, which was lovely.

Talking of the tree, I chose this year’s new ornament for it. In previous years we’ve added a 3D-printed bauble, some icicle-shaped pieces of glass from Iceland, and one featuring pandas that Hannah‘s cousins brought back from China. As we neglected to get one last year, I summed up both 2020 and 2021 with a laser-cut wooden ornament that looks like the COVID-19 spike protein!


Work wise, we rounded off our current contract with Participate for the Keep Badges Weird work and then, after a meeting with Mark and Julie, agree to continue working together for Q1 2022 in the first instance. We’ve built up a good “head of steam” (as Mark called it) with the KBW work, and have around 120 people join the community in less than six weeks. There are a range of badges to be earned, so do check it out!

With Julie’s Bicycle, we delivered v0.9 of the external-facing and internal-facing digital strategy. This comprised two documents and two slide decks laden with Bryan‘s images, with us only being able to get to v1.0 with more input from JB’s staff. We’ve helped them hire a Product Lead for the next iteration of the CG Tools, which is one part of an overall digital platform they’ll be developing — with help from WAO and Outlandish.

All things being equal, our collaboration with JB will continue until at least the end of next year. We’ll phase ourselves out as we build in-house capacity around building and maintaining digital products. There’s plenty to do, but it’s great to see that JB are up for the challenge!

We’ve got the go-ahead for some more Greenpeace work starting in the new year after months of the project getting set up. Laura’s leading it, as with all of the work we do with GP, but I’m hoping to be involved. We’re also hoping to work with a coalition of Agencies for Good organisations (with the support of Catalyst) to develop cohort-based programmes around digital transformation and product development.

So we’re heading into 2022 with a decent amount of work. John is coming back to work with the co-op on at least a part-time basis, and our intern, Anne is really stepping up and helping with client projects. We have capacity for more, but it’s probably the most work we’ve ever gone into a new year with already secured!


Next week, I’m working a few hours on Monday, and then we have a workshop with Julie’s Bicycle and Outlandish on Tuesday afternoon. After that, I’ve finished for the year! I’m meeting Bryan in Sheffield and going walking with him in the Peak District on Wednesday, then getting my booster vaccine on Thursday. Friday is Hannah’s last day at work and the kids’ last day at school, so I’ll be reading philosophy books playing FIFA 22.


Photo of Team Belshaw Christmas tree featuring COVID-19 decoration.

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