Welcome! I am both excited and terrified to hang out my shingle and start this new project. I am taking the terror as a good sign because it means I am getting close to what is most important to me, and I just need to put my next foot down on this slippery path and start moving forward. Slowly, responsibly, with care. But forward.
I am reminding myself of my "one over n" rule. The first time you attempt something new, your entire identity rests on that first attempt. If you "fail", then you are a complete and total 100% failure! One out of one times, you messed up! Pushing through that first time, we get to an n of 2 or 3, and the stakes have dramatically dropped. By our fourth attempt we are only exposing 1/4 of our identity, and the fraction keeps getting smaller. When my other ego-abatement measures fail, this simple mathematical rule reminds me that if I just push through a very small number of iterations, the stakes will soon be low enough that "failure" will become simply "practice".
So, what are we doing here? What am I (Ana) doing here and what might you (dear reader) want to do here? A few years ago, as I was contemplating a transition from working as a software engineer towards a new business employing my improv skills as a facilitator and trainer, I started thinking about an idea called Participation Is Not Endorsement (PINE). Most of the spaces in which we may seek to practice and expand our professional skills are implicitly or explicitly pro-capitalist and pro-growth. By participating in these spaces (which we must to be able to pay the rent and enjoy rich professional collaborations) we are assumed to endorse the world view they espouse. And one of the abusive ways in which capitalism protects itself via social norms is to mock anyone who questions it by the very fact of their forced participation. My personal framing went from "I am a bad person for participating in capitalism, so I shall avoid becoming good at it" (as if that helped anyone) to "I have no choice but to participate in capitalism, so I shall do so to the extent that I need to, while committing myself fully to overthrowing it with all my skills and resources". While we can't use capitalism to end capitalism, we have to start from where we are and do what we can to reduce harm, redistribute power and resources, and create supportive connection in the work environments where we spend most of our time and energy.
I wanted a space where I could grow professionally without feeling like I had just walked into an airport bookstore, surrounded by books extolling capitalism dressed up as "personal growth". I wanted to write and share content without having to use tools designed to distract and abuse humans in order to maximize advertising revenue. I wanted a space to collectively build knowledge within a healthy community, and to practice (in all senses) the skills of liberation as part of my every day work. I am building Zymocosm as one such space aimed at sole practitioners and small organizations (nonprofit, for-profit, or community groups) who want both the What of their work and the How of their work to reflect a commitment to social and environmental justice, to the greatest extent possible. (While not wasting our energy stressing over what's not possible right now, but also not giving up on making it possible soon.) How can we use all the tools available to us to move resources away from capitalism and towards a just future? How do we do this in the ordinary course of our daily work?
This blog will be about the process of building the Zymocosm website and community, plus a little bit about how I will use Zymocosm for my own projects. (And I hope very soon that "I" becomes "we" as I develop collaborative tools.) If you are interested in learning more and getting involved, you are welcome to come sign up and chat on Zulip. I'd also love to hear (and link to) other similar spaces.
And, if you want to create your own separate space along these lines, I'd love to help! My blog posts will describe the technical aspects of the tools I use and I'm always happy to go into more detail or connect you with practitioners who can help.