Breaking the break
I wrote a summer wrap up on the 26 July so it’s been 7 weeks since my last weeknote. I took some time off through the summer holidays as I would be looking after my little boy, now he is back at school and I have some time to my own thoughts again.
Anyway, 7 weeks feels like a really long time and I feel rusty. I’ve missed writing, and now that I get back to it I can feel it grinding and not coming as easily as it usually would.
I’ve also recently been feeling very uncertain of myself again, scared about what people will think of me, and generally have felt that little voice creeping in telling me I’m an impostor. I often have this, it’s not new, but it has been a bit quieter in my head over the past few months.
It came as a bit of a revelation last night when I realised that those two things might be linked.
When we talk about how weeknotes are something that you write for yourself, I’ve always (guiltily) thought in the back of my head “Is that true? Am I really just attention seeking?” but at the same time, I’ve recognised that it’s more than just the need to project myself, the act of writing is a compulsion.
This break has helped me to realise that I need this space to track my achievements. Without it, without the space to take stock, I find it hard to feel as though I’m moving forward.
When I can’t take stock that allows space for those intrusive thoughts to creep back in. So yep, if anyone tells you that weeknotes are first and foremost for yourself, I can now say it with some certainty.
Based on the above I don’t want to jump straight into a new weeknote, so I thought I would do an overview to what has happened since I last wrote.
The most unsettling and upsetting thing about the impostor that I’ve been wrestling with has been that it has come at a time when I’ve had a lot ongoing on professionally and lots of opportunities to be excited about. It sucks to doubt yourself when you feel like you should be proud. Its a reminder of that depression and inability to see the good in things (that I also often struggle with). It’s a reminder that your brain can be a bastard.
So I thought it worth running through some of the things that have happened over the summer by way of reminding myself where I am and what I’ve been up to.
We’ve been busy in the Local Digital Collaboration Unit. We invited all of our round 1 projects to apply for more funding as part of round 2. We decided not to open the round to to everybody but to give the projects we already knew about the chance to take their work to the next phase first.
So we had to score applications, and then moderate them with a panel, inviting some of our beta applications to present to us.
It was a really great process actually, in no small part due to Rich putting in the hard work to set up the structures and processes to make it work. The application scoring was straightforward, we worked using the pomodoro technique and it meant that we got through a lot of applications easily. I really enjoyed the conversations around the moderation.
Yesterday we announced that we will be funding 6 projects as part of round 2 and I’m really excited to see how they progress. I’ll be working with Stockport on their Family Context beta too, which is exciting.
You can find out about all of the projects that we will be funding here:
The applications for round 3 are closing on Monday. This round was open to all local authorities so we aren’t currently sure how many applications we will receive this time around.
When we first opened the fund last year we had 77 full applications so if we get a similar number again then it’s going to be a tough endeavour to review them all – but I’m sure we will manage. It’s going to be really interesting to see what ideas come in.
I’ve really enjoyed doing this work for One Team Gov.
I used our global networks to get a lot of thoughts and opinions about how people’s work would change by 2030, collected videos, audio and written submissions and then worked with these.
I took all of the key points out of all of the resources and put them into a trello and grouped them by theme. Jenny, Morgan and I got brunch and worked up the final written submission. Quite aside from spending a day in the company of awesome women we really pulled together something that I felt was interesting and insightful.
We also arranged a day to look at all of the videos. Prateek, David, Nour, James, and Jenny helped me to group the ideas by theme and pull together the key quotes for the videos we wanted to produce finding the actual timings for quotes was a pain.
But it was a really productive day and I appreciated people helping me to do this work, it was really helpful.
After that I finished a brief and sent this on to our video editor, as well as sending our written submission to Nesta. The design work from Nesta required some thought and some iterations so I also did that.
Last week I got a PDF version of the final publication, I got to see all of the other submissions too. My impostor had a field day with that. So many really imaginative ideas, great speculative design, I really wish I could do something like that. It caused an earthquake level wobble. Nesta have asked us to keep this work under our hats for now so that they can launch it next week, but launching something like this which has required a lot of hard work from a lot of people, and is a creative thing, feels very scary and hard.
I’ll update in my weeknotes next week what happens with the launch.
I spent a really lovely evening at the Design Council at the launch of Audree’s book. It was a really lovely thing for her to do and I felt lucky and proud to be celebrated amongst some amazing women.
It was nice to spend an evening in a room full of women I really admire and look up to. There were conversations that followed afterwards about the number of women of colour included within the book, and which I don’t want to shy away from. I think that all we can hope for is that the next iteration of this does better. I admire Audree for starting something, starting the conversations that will take forward the recognition of all women in design. On a personal level, I will commit to keep trying to do better and expand my circles.
On a personal level it was really wonderful to be recognised in a book like this and interesting to reflect on it now while I feel so impostor-y. I’ve always wanted to be a designer, if my education and childhood had been different then maybe I could have done something more like it.
On a separate note I was thinking the other day about how in school they used to periodically force you to get a book out of the library. When I had to do that there was a 20th Century design book that I always checked out. I used to read about Philippe Starke and Alessi. I used to look at all of the products like Dieter Rams stereos and Bauhaus chairs. I was watching the Deiter Rams, Bauhaus and Anni Albers documentaries on the TV recently and my brain has smashed these things together. Sometimes it’s lovely to daydream about having a discipline.
Anyway. I digress
SDinGov / Speaking
I wrote a blog post (yet to be published) at work about storytelling for agile projects, and, after a trip to Missshapes; The Tatty Devine exhibition with Hattie and Katy we hatched a plan to turn it into an SDinGov talk. So I drafted some things and we have sent that off, with Rahma helping out. If we get through it will be cool to do something more with those awesome ladies.
I also randomly decided to put in a talk suggestion for the Ada’s list conference. No idea if it will be anything like they’re looking for but let’s see, eh? Worth pushing myself out of my usual zone for a bit.
I went to Copenhagen for the Community Leadership Summit and delivered a lightning talk about One Team Gov, I’ve written that up here:
It also includes a little podcast type thing of a follow up conversation we had. I was tired but I think it is a nice little thing.
And finally I spoke at the BSA Smart Cities event about the Local Digital Declaration, I was very tired, having left Stevenage at 6am and I think it could have been better, I couldn’t see my notes and felt like I could have been better prepared. Something to remember for next time.
Coming up I’m delivering a workshop for Apolitical with Nour and Miki Stricker-Talbot from the City of Edmonton. It’s going to be all about finding your people within government and the power of building communities. Apolitical have told me that they already have 200 people signed up to join it, which is terrifying and another thing for my impostor to get their teeth into.
At some point these people are going to realise I have no idea what I’m doing, right? Right?!
I haven’t been writing but I did decide to get involved with Amy’s idea #10MoreBlogPosts, to support others to write:
It’s really important to me that I support others in doing this kind of work, I want to hear more voices. Arfah reached out to me and has sent me two excellent posts. One she has published already and you’ll find it below, I need to find time to review the other.
When I read this one through I thought how lucky I was to be able to support someone doing such cool work and how even the most brilliant women often struggle to tell their stories, its quite a thing to remember.
I’m really happy to support more people with this so if you’re reading and thinking you would like to write something too then please let me know.
And that’s probably as much as I have in me right now for this week. Hope to resume weeknotes as normal next week.