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Now

Updated at 5:30 PM on Friday the 20th of January 2023, from Portland, Maine. It was 29℉, calm, and freezing rain was falling outside.

2023 is shaping up

  • Reacquainting myself with this town (probably spending too much time at third places, but I mean, this is me we're talking about).
  • Planning a trip next month with close friends to Puerto Rico! I spent time in San Juan last year, so maybe it'll become a regular thing?
  • Having fun with the day job role focused on systems design and design systems. Entering month four!
  • Researching a bunch of intertwingled topics at the ol' design labsecond-order cyberneticscircular causality in product and program management, design, and design research; patterns that connect organizational, family, and societal trauma (driven by schismogenesis and double binds); ethics; sustainable innovation; operations; and strategy theory. This has been so much fun that I’m writing a book-shaped thing about it.
  • Intros and conversations with so many wonderful folks met through work stuff, the bird app, and or just being a person about town. Grateful for all of you.
  • Joined a jiu-jitsu gym! I wanted to do something to get active at least a couple times a week. I have no idea what I'm doing, but it's been fun. I like the competitive but collaborative nature of the sport. The minor shoulder injury wasn't fun. But, it's fine. Everything is fine.
  • Working on a series of updates to this website (you can expect an evolved vibe and a lot of lists and links and… maybe even some long-form reflections!).

Language, ecology, mind, and nature

Unsurprisingly, I've been reading a lot of Gregory Bateson, Mary Catherine Bateson, Nora Bateson, and Robert Bringhurst.

The research topics I'm focused on all ladder up to this Bateson-ism (which is really an ancientism, generalized as a critique of occidental society to address underlying systemic wrongheadedness):

The major problems in the world result from the difference between how nature works and the way people think.

—Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind

There are so many related threads to follow and so many patterns which connect. I've been learning a lot about myself professionally and personally while reflecting on these wonderful folks' stories, poetry, and prose. It's a real trip.

If we continue to operate in terms of a Cartesian dualism of mind versus matter, we shall probably also continue to see the world in terms of God versus man; elite versus people; chosen race versus others; nation versus nation; and man versus environment. It is doubtful whether a species having both an advanced technology and this strange way of looking at its world can endure.

—Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind

Relatedly, Margaret Mead, Bateson, and collaborators formed ideas in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s that challenged academia about core issues we’re reaping the consequences of today. Why wasn’t the challenge successful? Why hasn’t it been since? More on this soon.

Book-shaped thing

I’ve been in the weeds of applying concepts of second-order cybernetics, deutero-learning, and intertwingled behavioral sciences in professional contexts for a few years now. It turns out, I’ve been accidentally zigzagging my way toward writing a book-shaped thing about it. Isn’t that something?

Topics include systemic trauma cycles, cybernetics, maps, naming things, generalizing design strategy, and so much more.

There’s a lot that’s overwhelming and exciting to me about this journey. In retrospect, my weird, tangled, messy story will only start to make some sense if I publish this little bundle of words. If you’ve heard about some of my many missteps, adventures, spectacular failings, etc., I bet you have an idea what I’m getting at.

Follow @strategytheory on Twitter for updates.

2021–2022

I’ve had an address in Portland, Maine for seven months(!?). This remains one unexpected life update.

Address aside, I spent my first few months “in Portland” not actually present. Katahdin, Thousand Islands, Montreal, Hallowell, Brooklyn, many places in between. Forty-five days after I signed a lease for the first time in six or seven years, I lost what I'd thought might turn into my dream job after just under three months in my role.

I spent much of 2021 traveling (well—the most I had since COVID-19 became a factor, anyway). In October 2021, I put everything in storage and left Hallowell—my adopted hometown and beloved place to come back to of the prior five years—for Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. What followed was an adventure that was profoundly positive in so many ways and also somewhat disorienting. Since then, I’ve… left one of my favorite jobs for a job I didn’t think I was qualified for. Realized I was qualified many times over. Spent time in NYC. Almost moved to Brooklyn. Went through a breakup with someone who is still a dear friend. Moved to York, Maine and spent a few months exploring Portsmouth, New Hampshire (thanks, fam!). Moved to my current apartment. Had my role eliminated by an accountant as part of a corporate restructure. Took a month off to try to reset (travel, hiking, paddling—thanks, friends, old and new!). Started a job search. Landed a new role which is somehow more of a personal growth opportunity than the last. Realized it’s 15 December and almost 2023 15 January and already 2023!

As a rule I think it's healthy to embrace unintentionality and intentionality. Meadows' wisdom really is evergreen. I learned and grew so much the last two years. Looking back, it feels like the last six or so years have contained a series of crash courses, one after the other. So many mistakes. So many happy accidents. What feels like a lot of growth.

I am grateful. Tired, but grateful. And I finally feel like I’m here. Even if it is only for the next six-ish months? 🫣

What's next

I’m not sure where I’ll call “home” later this year. My hope is to choose somewhere to be intentional again about connecting with community for at least a number of years. There's a chance I'll stay in Maine. A chance of migrating somewhere else. I suppose in many ways Hallowell will always feel like home. That’s a nice feeling to have.

Say hi

Please do reach out through Twitter, Instagram, Mastodon, or email if you'd like to do coffee, drinks, dinner, or a call sometime. As always, I'm here for the conversation and community. ❤️

What's a now page?

A now page is an attempt at outlining things I might tell a friend I haven't seen in a year. My hope is that this'll be a way for me to process certain things in public for a number of reasons I'll write about one day—such as cultivating sincerity and vulnerability as paths through the noise.

Learn more at NowNowNow. Many thanks to Derek Sivers for the idea.