In exchange for our time, skill and efforts, we interns can request to have a place in classes that relate to our personal pursuits. For three weeks starting in late January, I was in the core class for the Certificate in Sustainable Building and Design. This course pans out to be three separate, intense one-week classes that take the students through studies of Permaculture, Community Design, and Individual Building Design. “Intense”being the operative word. For each of the first two weeks, we found ourselves working in groups of four to complete a large culminating assignment that would be presented on Friday.
On top of learning the curriculum, we were challenged to form, storm, norm, and perform: a sweetly packaged way to illustrate the social dynamics that happen when strangers are asked to huddle up and accomplish a task together. We come from all sorts of backgrounds and stages in life, so it was no surprise that we had some storming happen every now and then. But, no matter what trials happened during the week, on Friday the presentations were well laid out, artfully delivered, and downright impressive.
I’m beginning to think that collaboration could be the beating heart of social change and one of the strengths woven into Yestermorrow’s teaching style. The more we get together, the more we gather our skills; the more we understand each other, the more common ground we find. We will be creating a culture of respect for each others' talents and knowledge, compassion for each others' struggles, and possibly the willingness to collaborate more often. A neat looped system that regenerates itself while enriching all entities involved. This is far from a prescription for world peace, by any means. But I think it’s a step in a positive direction.
Thinking globally, acting locally—this mindset has changed my daily interactions on a perception and attitude level. Instead of coming back to my intern duties with my head down ready to barrel into a solo project, I’ve kept an openness to some collective goals. By the close of my second day back on the job, I was able to work with my fellow interns on two somewhat daunting tasks of planning new space for the intern workbench with David and helping Jess organize the library. In reconnecting with them after three weeks of being in class, I recognized that we were learning from each others' rhythms of work.
Challenging. Fulfilling. Motivating.