View of the lake through the trees

On January 14, 2021, Design Spaces had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kelly Small about their new book, The Conscious Creative. It was the first event for Design Spaces, an evolving collective led by myself and Teena Singh with the aim of amplifying equitable innovation. We hosted an intimate group (about 15 of us) with an insightful discussion. In addition, we managed to collect $100 to donate to Kelly’s chosen 501(c)3 non-profit, Indigenous Climate Action, through our pay-it-forward fund.

During the discussion, Kelly was asked how to create safer spaces for team members. Their response was candidly simple: trust. And to trust, we must be mindful and kind. Mindfulness occurs when we observe ourselves with compassion and are aware of our inherent biases. Kindness manifests when we reach out with generosity to others to create authentic connections. We open authentic connections when we truly know ourselves.

The kindness and mindfulness we manifest with our connections will permeate through our design spaces and impact our work. Consequently, safer spaces become the systems we create with this trust within ourselves, our friends and family, and our communities. Safer spaces engender the micro-interactions we perform every day — from the small interactions with our neighbors through our masks, the seemingly small email check-ins with our friends and family, the digital Zoom meetings as we talk on mute with soft pants (or no pants!), the patience with our coworkers’ fluctuating schedules as we move though this prolonged and quixotic quarantine.

Our design spaces become the air we breathe, the people to whom we connect, and the values we uphold. Design spaces become our life spaces.

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, let’s be mindful that our micro-interactions ultimately infuse the systems we construct that impact everyone.

#UX lead, software designer, mom. Founder: Design Spaces and Designing Women, #designingwsd. I #design tools to connect people, systems, things. @qualcomm