Breaking Beyond the World of Ideas

When charged with the task of writing my final column for The Daily Tar Heel in April, I thought about what I could say that my fellow Tar Heels would actually want to read. I thought about abstracting from the world we live in to talk about the big ideas that shape it. See, I live in a world of big ideas. As a Political Science and Philosophy major with a specific academic focus on political theory, I deal in big ideas on the daily. I am interested in how democracy reconciles inequality to the extent that it can. I am interested in social questions to inequality. And I am interested in how citizens and the forces that shape them (government, political elites, media, media elites, friends, family, faith, and so on) can address social inequity.

My final column.

And those abstract ideas were what I wanted to write about in my final column. I thought, “Hey with all the craziness that happened in the election cycle, can we just step back and evaluate our governing values?” But, upon further reflection and conversations with my editor, I realized a 350-word column isn’t really the place to debate whether a democracy can withstand inequality. That conversation is better had in a dissertation. To reach my peers, I needed to break out of my world of ideas and write something actionable.

So, I wrote my column about using what my fellow classmates and I learn in our hallowed halls for good. The spirit of learning put into action for a better world is the same spirit that guides Matter. This spirit is what prompted me to spend my summer at Matter in the first place.

Partner team members talking with each other accompanied by their prototype service dog, Marcus.

In my short time here, I’ve observed and embraced a bias towards action. Matter encourages its community to act, get feedback, learn, and try again. The values preached and practiced by this small but ever-expanding group of individuals pushes each person to think, test, fail, learn, and redo.

For me, this constant and active iteration is outside of my comfort zone. Before Matter, I’d never thought about prototyping an idea and representing it textually, visually, and kinesthetically.

Over the past five weeks, I’ve been getting my feet wet in using design thinking. I’ve prototyped solutions to a lack of storage space. I’ve made scrappy, quick fixes to problems in the space. But most importantly, I act. I lean into the problems, brainstorm solutions, and try them out.

Literally getting my feet wet in Portugal last summer.

I look forward to the next four weeks, getting to know the Matter Seven cohort of action-driven entrepreneurs. I look forward to learning and growing alongside them. The Matter community brims with people who have a bias towards action, and I am so excited to see the first sprint of the Matter Seven journey.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Gaby Nair’s story.