Weeknote

Ellie Hale
Catalyst
Published in
4 min readSep 30, 2022

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I’m ignoring my unpublished half-written blogs in an attempt to get something out this week and get in the habit of writing again, little and often. Thanks to Joe Roberson for this weeknotes template. Sign up for weeknotes writing sessions here — all welcome!

Overarching feeling of the week

Gratitude! For:

  • working with incredible people in the various teams, working groups and collectives I’m part of
  • Brighton — every time I welcome guests here I appreciate my home city all the more
  • Autumn — bringing a close to the intense, beautiful-but-exhausting openness of Summer and an invitation to begin integrating and going inwards
  • refocusing on our strategic goals in the Producer team and feeling like i’m getting my Catalyst mojo back after a more personal development-focused Summer
  • my friends, housemates and partners outside of work, from whom I learn and am nourished on a daily basis.

Highlights

  • First Support & Training circle since Summer. This is the Initiative Leads delivery circle that represents Catalyst’s digital practice-building support services: Digital Candle, DigiShift, Dovetail, Catalyst Resources, Design Hops, Coffee Connections, The Curve and Digital Trustees. In our 1hr 50min meeting we discussed responses to the cost of living crisis, shared and collaborated around a couple of puzzles/blockers within specific initiatives, and passed a new member proposal to add Ab Brightman to the circle. She’ll be repping the Digital Tools Test Drive initiative that was awarded budget by the circle in the July cobudgeting round (blog to come on that soon… promise!).
The Support & Training circle members are: Third Sector Lab, CAST, SCVO, SIDELabs, Joe Roberson, Platypus Digital and (from October) Ab Brightman
Support & Training is one of the three Initiative Lead-led delivery circles, and the biggest!
  • First online convening of the new Brighton tech for good meetup volunteer co-organising team — a meeting to plan a ‘proper’ meeting where we’ll arrange our first meetup event for a couple of years. Mainly getting to know each other and building trust, as none of us have worked together before. Excited to get this moving again after the community has been dormant for a while.
  • Two-day in person session with my co-Producers Siana and Jo in Brighton. Focusing on our EOS goals for the next quarter (strategic planning and reflection) and identifying issues and blockers and how to address them. That was really valuable and led to an insight that we need to bring in a bit more support to help run and maintain our Initiative Lead circles, to free up our time and headspace for the Review activities that are now underway.
  • Meeting my wonderful coach, Janice Gittens, in person for the first time. We’ve been working together for the last three months and I have been so grateful for her wisdom, energy and belief in the new version of me that is emerging. It was great to introduce her to Siana and Jo in Brighton and we all enjoyed a delicious dinner together. Connecting over good, ethically sourced vegan food is one of my absolute favourite things in the world to do :)
  • Spoke to 10 applicants to the Catalyst Steering Group. Really interesting conversations, thoughtful contributions and provocative questions back at us. Can’t wait to see how they help us shepherd and coax Catalyst’s next phase into being. We’ll be deciding the final five next week!
  • Selected and made an offer to a new Agencies for Good Community Manager — a really tough decision but we in the working group are really happy and excited about the outcome. Can’t wait for them to start and make their mark on this growing community!
  • Booked my travel for the Tech for Good Organisers retreat in October. Exciting! Brilliant organising by our Network Coordinator, Nish.

Some puzzles

  • How to keep some of the playful, spacious energy of Summer in what is decidedly the more ‘back to school’ vibe of Autumn — what is the right balance, or oscillation?
  • There is so much great work happening across the multiple sectors that Catalyst works with/as part of. How to get the right combination of outward and inward looking? (A perennial challenge for knowledge workers in the attention economy!)

Lessons

  • In-person time with close colleagues is so important.
  • Collective governance spaces and interactions need specialist, dedicated facilitators.
  • There’s a need for clarity and discipline on roles within an ecosystem, rather than generalism. For example, we assumed that we as Producers could also do a mix of other things (like circle facilitation). In fact, we’re learning, we will best serve the wider ecosystem if we focus on the stuff that only we can really do — which at the moment is the strategic review — and commission support for the rest.
  • Huge range of responses from our Steering Group applicants to how best to leverage white privilege. Some more thoughtful than others.
  • “The monster is not the bad guy. The monster is the one that resists conformity… That which upsets our frames of reference and invites a migrancy from the concepts and homes we’re used to. The monster is the trickster at the edges of the clearing.” — Dr Bayo Akomolafe from this excellent interview… #BeMoreMonster?
  • We can learn a lot from grass.

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Ellie Hale
Catalyst

Connecting & nurturing relationships, communities and networks at Catalyst (currently incubated by CAST). Co-organiser of several tech for good meetups.