Hospitality revisited

I’m coming back around to a topic that I’ve explored earlier (You are Welcome). Ideas are still trickling through my thoughts as I work on design and construction of online learning spaces. It’s about hospitality. Not just the type of kindness we show to friends and family, but the way we greet and treat others who are new, unknown and foreign. How we welcome people into a space says a lot about who we are, what we believe in, and where our persona shows.

As Canadians begin to welcome Syrian refugees into the country, this notion of radical hospitality is at the forefront of my thinking. What will we do to ensure each individual will find this new space a welcome and safe one? How can we structure and plan for their transition to our foreign shores? What design principles will make a difference as they navigate and wayfind into Canadian culture?

How I design for students new to online learning can also be influenced by ideas of radical hospitality. As the digital space is formed and structured, I need to apply empathy to all my decisions and considerations e.g. where artefacts are located, how navigational elements are located, or how content is presented. It’s easy to design open digital learning spaces – it’s not easy to design them well! Keeping the ‘audience’ or ‘individual’ in mind is essential. Since I will also be host and guide in this learning space, I can fix things as I go, but making sure there is a clear, clean and hospitable space when learners enter the course will leave a lasting first impression.

As I engage and explore collaborative spaces with others from differing backgrounds and contexts (@Bali_Maha, @Wentale, @yinbk), I reflect from my Canadian landscape about how radical hospitality helps build relationships. It’s more about designing hospitality into the culture of digital communities than about finding my individual place. It’s focusing on ‘the other’ and applying empathy, rather than an egocentric online stance. Within the Virtually Connecting community and events, I have had opportunities to explore ideas within a culture of radical hospitality.

So what are the elements of radical hospitality?

Radical Hospitality

This sketch note organizes some ideas from research and readings. These ideas fit for those who will structure physical ‘welcome centers’ and for those who are designing open online spaces.

Radical hospitality doesn’t just happen. It’s designed into the culture and structures by people, for people.

It’s not easy to design radically hospitable places and spaces that work well for the people coming in – but it’s worth doing well!

Some of this thinking was sparked by Gareth Jenkins TEDxPortofSpain talk Design Makes the Difference.

How do you already apply elements of radical hospitality? What’s so radical about them? What elements will you try that you haven’t tried before?

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