And then there was November 2019, when I was a resident at The House of Beautiful Business in Lisbon. To give a talk, to do a ‘Happyplaces Moment pop-up’ and to do a ‘Happyplaces Journey’ — a walking workshop outside on the streets of Lisbon. It was beautiful. Everything, everyone and all of it. Not only because of having an opportunity to share more about Happyplaces, but foremost because the House is truly a wonderful event bringing together an amazing group of people from all over the world with a shared mindset, curiosity, drive and energy. In this group of people, there is this radical openness and eagerness to share and engage, which made facilitating these sessions far more beautifully intense and worthwhile than I could have ever imagined.
The Happyplaces Pop-up was a spontaneous idea, bringing together several possibilities into this moment of opportunity. This years House was partly organised in a former bank right in the centre of Lisbon, with lots of space for experiments. That, combined with the knowledge that Suzanne also decided to go to the House led to an opportunity to try out something.
Hoe Suzanne Leclaire-Noteborn ruimte maakt door levend onderzoek
Happyplaces stories (video)
I asked Suzanne if doing a Happyplaces Moment featuring her, and her story would be something for her, would fit her journey. Happyplaces Moments is a series of intimate, invitation-only gatherings on space matters, sprouted from Happyplaces Project. A Happyplaces Moment brings together a group of people from a wide variety of backgrounds, and it allows them to engage in open and genuine conversations and meaningful exchange. A group of 16 participants is carefully curated, which makes a Happyplaces Moment a ’safe space’ for the participants. This allows them to freely engage with others in rich, personal conversations with the story of one person as the starting point for conversation. Usually, the features person brings seven more people, and I bring the other seven. Together we would then watch the already recorded story, to then together continue the conversation. Now it was slightly different; we opened it up for 14 residents of the House. Which eventually grew to a group of 26 people from 18 nationalities.
Together we watched Suzanne’s full-length video. For the occasion, I subtitled the 33-minute video, since it is Dutch spoken. I was a bit worried, since reading subtitles while watching a video is not part of culture everywhere, listening to a foreign language and watching someone talk for over half an hour, could also be tough. But the opposite turned out to be true. The entire group stayed to watch. For Suzanne, it was also slightly weird and uncomfortable — she only saw herself back for the second time, while being amongst this group of people she never met before. What followed was beautiful — in the discussion and conversation that followed, participants connected to who she is. Connected and reflected on her story, her journey, her finding her place fulfilling all these different roles as a mother, partner, businesswomen. It was truly beautiful and revealed something we all already know, but easily forget: that we have more in common than we think and that you should never underestimate what you can not see.
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