Alone in a crowd
Even when you’re working together, there’s always some work you end up doing alone.
It’s a Saturday afternoon in September and some 200 people are scurrying around an impressive courtyard, independently or guided by a designer (an architect, artist…) – My House Arabianranta is in full swing. There were a lot of people organizing the event: about 90 residents, a bit over a dozen designers and tens of other partners. Are you surprised to hear that most of the organizing was done by individuals working alone?
In my work, I’ve interviewed people who participate actively in the affairs of their district or neighborhood, and I often hear that you sometimes feel a bit lonely especially if you’re co-ordinating large crowds. You are lonely even though you’re surrounded by lovely people.
The feeling of loneliness probably has to do with independence and the fact that none of the people around you knows or does the particular tasks you take care of. Or they work from home. You’d get more companions by putting some time into the delegation of tasks… but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to arrange some kind of concrete peer support for this kind of projects.
I don’t live in the Arabianranta district myself. I was on unpaid maternity leave and took care of my tasks sporadically and at irregular hours. My situation was such that it would have been impossible for me to participate in the first place if Artova didn’t make such good use of different electronic online tools.
I believe that the distance between me and Artova grew because of my stiff civil servant background. It hasn’t been once or twice that I’ve wondered at how I ended up doing so much work from home with this Arabianranta project when in Arabianranta there are such wonderful people and such great spirit. One of the most important things I learned over the course of the project was that all face-to-face interaction made everything easier and more fun. That’s something I intend to keep in mind the next time I get to choose where my desk is.
Janne, who co-ordinates all six Spirit of Artova projects, introduced me to many local individuals and companies. Having me and the other volunteers meet even more other people who do similar work might have lightened the workload and tied me better into the lively Artova network. It wasn’t until things were looking pretty sombre that I realized I should actively look for peer support.
I felt the support I needed was “stealing” time from more important things because there is always so much going on in Artova. It would have been useful to have some specifically allocated time, at regular intervals, for on-the-point mentoring sessions. Every time I talked about the project with others valuable tips and lessons came up, things that I wouldn’t have thought to ask.
Over these years, a lot of skillful people have found their way into Artova. It might be a good idea to start drawing up a list of potential mentors and arrange mentoring meetings where old hands and newbies could talk. Something like “night of dumb questions” where everyone is welcome to join, as is the case usually in Artova anyway.
Peer support and advice enables you to make things happen, big things, and at the computer in the middle of the night if need be. It’s important if we want to complete projects like this outside office hours, regardless of where everyone is.
Translation Pigasus Translations.