The survey.

So instead of doing a focus group, I decided to do a survey. I feel like most people are likely to complete it and also just in general it means a more simple intake of data, because I realized that it would be quite hard to manage a whole discussion and the results I got from that. A focus group might be useful later on down the line, when I’ve narrowed down on the type of audience I want my product to be targeted to, but for now I think a survey is better.

I created it in survey monkey- https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PH35G6Q

Its super simple, it takes literally 1 minute to complete and it covers my basic interests in terms of the London life and how and when people would wish to escape it. I hope I actually get a good amount of responses, just so I can compile a case against the chronic unhappiness that I’ve described in my previous posts, in terms of living in a big city etc etc

What is my next step? I don’t really know, I’m really gassed because Scarlett Penn, the chief executive of WWOOF got in touch with me, letting me know that if I had questions I could chat to her, it’s really awesome, but I do think that their organization is more environmentally based, whereas mine is more personal based, but it does have a huge environmental factor as well.

I’ve been thinking of funding my own organization, I don’t think enough people look at self care in the professional environment as something as remotely important as it actually is. Of course, I’m just a 21 year old kid and I don’t know how to ever go about it, but one can dream right?

Yesterday I went to a Lee Bul exhibition in Southbank with Claudia. I found it quite interesting as she used massive spaces to talk of a certain theme, there were 5 rooms and she had a variety of installations to illustrate a point. I felt very inspired by this, especially since I made a submission for an art room in the same manner, but it got me thinking. Maybe the point of the intervention isn’t to change the world right now, maybe I’m aiming too high too soon; but what about illustrating my point, educating, showing people what I mean, creating awareness (I don’t even say raise awareness because I don’t think that there is any to begin with).

Art rooms.

So I was bold af and I made a submission for artrooms London 2019. I thought it could be like the mother of all interventions if I were to get picked, but I also feel like making the submission is in itself an intervention, as I pitched my idea and even if i don’t get picked (which I wont) I may be put in touch with someone that finds it interesting and would like to collaborate with me?

My project isn’t related to art, but I thought art could be one of the mediums to explain and transmit the message so it’s easy to understand, as well as carrying some shock value with it. The art room is basically a hotel room that is given to you to do whatever you want in it. I’m not an artist but I do draw in a very specific style, very cartoony and colorful, so I thought I could use this to my advantage as a satirical critique of the city life the way that many perceive it (according to my focus group), colorful and lively. I want to include all the negative bits that other people perceive, but camouflaged. My intention is to portray how in time we become drained and worn out, in the same manner that someone looking at the room would, trying to find its meaning and understand the very slight hints that this may not be the perfect city after all. If I were given the opportunity to develop this project further, I would actually draw everything myself and from direct observation, so I would have to spend a long time outside looking at buildings and people, but since I’m not sure this will go anywhere I can’t plan that far ahead right now.

In any case, I still haven’t come up with a solution to this problem, and it’s starting to bother me. Initially I thought creating a time share of a self sustainable space to be cared for by a reduced group of people would create a sense of community between those who are responsible for it, as well as aiding in sustainable tourism, and allowing this re-connection with nature and oneself to occur, which in my opinion is the key to finding more fulfillment in what we do, as we are taught how the most “mundane” jobs, like planting seeds or harvesting food are in fact those that feel the best as you get to see the fruits of your labour in real life. I’m not sure this idea would work, and I also don’t know how to test it, but I do think I’m going to get in touch with a psychologist or a professional of the field, as I think it would be interesting to get some feedback on the concepts of feeling trapped or unfulfilled in a job, maybe that’ll shed more light into the solution?

Anyway, this is my progress so far. Sometimes I feel like I’m not moving fast enough, and it’s very scary, but alas, let’s keep going.

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Tunnel vision.

I work under so many assumptions. It is hard not to, especially since I feel so strongly about theme I’ve chosen.

I think my first intervention ever should actually be about those who do enjoy the London life, the big city life, the hustle and bustle. I think the best idea, and following Aisha’s advice, is to create a focus group, whilst I’m still here in London, just to get some feedback on the positive perspectives of the metropolis lifestyle.

Using the knowledge I gained from research on how to conduct a successful focus group I will take it in seven steps-

  1. Write down your goals-  My goal is to gain insights on the positive professional and by consequence personal experiences different people have or have had in London, which have encouraged them to stay here for a given amount of time.
  2. Defining my target audience- My target audience will be young graduates at entry level (or similar) jobs, both males and females and comprised between the ages of 22 and 25. I don’t want to get too specific in terms of who I interview because I don’t want to narrow down the field, but I will look preferably at people who have migrated from less urban areas of the United Kingdom to London either for university and then a graduate job or a graduate job directly.
  3. Finding a venue- I will most likely either book a room at CSM, as it will give me more of a “serious” look, or otherwise, if I run out of ideas, will do it at my own home, but ideally it shall be at CSM. Since this is a focus group aimed at people who have the classic 9 till 5 job, I will conduct the session after they are done, so ideally at 6pm.
  4. Recruiting participants- Ideally I would have from 10 to 15 people. I am aware that I will probably have to provide some sort of incentive for participating, so I might get amazon vouchers or bake some cookies or by some pizzas I dunno. I will have to make that super clear in the ad so that people actually feel like coming. I will most definitely have to target my ad to workplaces that have people that fit my criteria and that would want to participate.
  5. Designing the questions- Now, this is the important bit. I wish to make it as effective and swift as possible, because I know how boring focus groups can become.                                                                                                                                                       My questions still need to be revised, and will make a separate blog post on them once they’re ready.
  6. Getting an assistant moderator- It would be ideal if someone could conduct the focus group with me, to help in in taking notes, videotaping everything, or at least recording it, in order to get all the information provided and assuring nothing is missed. An assistant moderator would also be very helpful in handling the discussion so that it doesn’t become disorganized or hard to follow.
  7. Analyzing- Transcribing all the information gathered to easy to read, straight to the point ideas, and afterwards writing a report with all the findings, as well as drawing a conclusion on the findings and usefulness of the focus group.

All the information I gathered from a very useful blog- https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/blog/how-to-run-a-successful-focus-group-event-ds00/

Now I actually have to put together this event, wowweeeeeee.

My first intervention.

So, I got this reply-

Hi Estela,

I think it is two different approachs being mixed up here.

Our Mission Statement is: “WWOOF is a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange, thereby helping to build a sustainable global community.”

WWOOF promotes our mission statement but the personal reasons why each volunteer, farmer or even coordinators and staff gets involved with WWOOF may be very different from people to people.

I do recognise that a lot of volunteers do use the WWOOF platform to “escape” from the cat and rat life from the cities, but we can’t generalise and affirm that “your organization as a collective see”. Our organization don’t “see” but just provide a platform.

I don’t want to demotivate you, but I would recommend you to first try to WWOOF for a few months before planning a complex mission. This would allow you to understand the reality of WWOOF.

Best wishes,

Rodrigo Rocha

FoWO Administration Assistant

I am going to take his feedback face value and do the experience myself; it’ll be an ongoing intervention whilst I do other ones but I think it is a really important first step. I am going to a yogi farm in Portugal for three weeks, to really experience first hand what it is like. I have also got in touch with the owners of the farm to collaborate with me with the intervention, which I’m also very excited for.

Lack of time, the new poverty.

My very first intervention has been getting in touch with WWOOF, (World Wide Opportunities on Organic farms). It has been quite hard as there aren’t many ways to contact those that admin the company but worth the shot. I want to investigate how self-sustainable, off grid living can be an alternative means of achieving the sense of success many of us look for in careers that cause a massive burn out.

They got in touch with me literally like two hours later, which is amazing. I pitched this idea to them and suddenly, without realizing it, I got my question-

Hi Rodrigo,

Thank you for getting in touch so quickly.

So I would just like to know if your organization as a collective see the current urban lifestyle as a hinderance to personal growth and development? Also, what is the philosophy surrounding the consumerist lifestyle that is constantly around us? Do you think that being self-sufficient is a step towards not only being more environmentally friendly but also creating more wholesomeness in our professional lives?

In my project I am to resolve what I pose as a problem- what I call the new poverty- that is a lack of real time. I don’t mean time to spend with the kids or go to the gym, or the 25 days holidays we all get to book a holiday somewhere. I mean the lack of real time to get to know one self, to be in contact with our surroundings and nature, and to gain perception in our lives and our environmentally destructive lifestyle. 

I was wondering if you had any ideas on how I could carry out this mission. My initial thoughts revolved around a farm timeshare. I think the way you guys do the volunteering exchange is fantastic (in fact I’m trying to do it myself in Portugal) but I do think it might come across as intimidating to certain people. My idea was to have this organic, self sufficient farm somewhere and rotate volunteers who wish to escape the grid for short periods of time. My aim is to create a sense of community between the people that take care of this space as if they took care of a loved one, and most importantly a sense of fulfillment out of doing so, and getting the opportunity to leave their jobs and their busy lives for short amounts of time. 

Do you think this is something your organization would like to collaborate with?

Let me know what your thoughts are,

Thank you very much,

Estela. 

I don’t think this fits in with their aims to be honest but I thought it was definitely worth the try. Anyway, my question has thus materialized and isssss (drumroll please)-

How can self sustainable spaces help individuals re-evaluate their sense of success in the professional environment?

Tadáááá

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Job ladders.

The thing is, most men and women are segregated to their own gender job ladder. Each employee grows, or climbs up that ladder without the opportunity to ever cross over onto the other one. The worst part is that this phenomenon is greeted by contentment as women to this day are regarded as the primary caregivers and thus require positions with flexibility available, or more so than their male counterparts, resulting in less face time with their superiors which results in a lesser chance of becoming promoted. AND WE’RE ALL OKAY WITH IT?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4584998/

Do I sound like a third wave feminist cretin or is this just a ridiculous yet unaddressed situation that everyone just shrugs off in the same manner of ahh boys will be boys?

Recently, one of my closest friends had to leave her internship because not only was she one of two females in an entire office comprised of 25 people, but also she experienced inappropriate advances by her boss. Like in many cases, the events went unnoticed and the best thing for her to do was to quit but everyone’s attitude, including her own was, it is what it is, now I have to move on and get on with it. To top it all off, she wasn’t even aware of how she was invalidating her own feelings and concerns, and she adopted a stance of assertiveness and dominance by quickly finding another job which was better paid and in general better for her. I mean, honestly, great for her, these experiences do make us stronger and it is best to carry on and make ourselves our best version of us, but why was that just left in the past as a bump on the road?

I blame it on the job ladder. You gotta climb that ladder girl and you gotta do it now, asap. The daily grind, the gotta make a living sorta mindset. Pardon me but its all bullshit, what is the point in working like a donkey (and this applies to both men and women) if we invalidate our primordial virtue and gift which is our time and our energy. Why do women sacrifice all they sacrifice in the workplace, their femininity and much more to look forward to the weekends and to dread Monday’s and honestly why on earth would anyone else would ever strive for that whether male or female.

I got all fired up over there, and I can almost notice my question beginning to shape itself, and as much as I’d like it to be gender oriented I think I’m going to keep it work oriented- why? Because in a city like London, everyone looks exhausted and sick of life and honestly everyone looks like they’re shitting bricks and I am puzzled as to how anyone could ever endure rush hour every single damn day without wanting to throw themselves off a bridge. (I know I’m crude but this really hits home for me).

The problem is the following- why do people strive for this? Why is this considered success? It is really fucking not in my opinion. I work in a retail shop in covent garden to earn some extra cash and I hate the job that I do. I hate the fact that we mindlessly sell items to people that mindlessly buy em with money they worked hard for, to do it over and over and over again without any benefit or meaningful impact to their life, or mine.

 

Perspectives and experiences, why so dissimilar?

First of all, the facts and figures to illustrate what we all already know- there is a massive gap between the opportunity given to women compared to men in the professional environment.

One of the largest studies conducted to date by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & co, who surveyed 132 global companies and over 34,000 employees found what is probably pretty obvious in this day and age.

Women make up 46% of the entry level workforce, yet only 19% ever make it to the CSUITE 1% of employment. There has been initiatives by various multinationals to create a fairer work environment and opportunity but to be realistic they have only scratched the surface of a deeply rooted traditional mindset that is engrained in every single one of us.

I say this because according to this same study, just 45% of employers of a given enterprise think that it is doing enough to resolve gender disparity, and even fewer think that their manager or superior is ever willing to challenge gender based assumptions manifested in language or behavior.

This is where it all comes to a full circle in my eyes. How is it possible that two people that share the same education, background, preparation and ability have such different perceptions and experiences of the work place? Like I said before, I think this is all a product of the gender role definition and implementation for the last centuries. This is also something that wont be resolved in a few schemes and initiatives either.

I think women have figured this out. I think none of them trust the system to ever protect them since the system is the primary protector and enforcer of a traditional way of life that might have worked in the 1500 but that is outdated and useless now. Personally? I blame it on the male ego but this isn’t about my opinion so let’s not diverge.

I believe that based upon this unspoken premise of egos and almost an animalistic hierarchy of alphas and betas, women that strive to succeed in their professional careers adopt a very masculine, aggressive and at times condescending attitude, most of the time just for the sole purpose of being taken seriously.

It is not rare to find people complaining on how bossy this lady Brenda is at the office, or how annoying Clare is whenever she doesn’t get her way. Many would even go as far as accusing women of having little control over their emotions or the misogynistic extreme of arguing that they don’t belong in the work place at all.

I think no-one’s thought of the perception of oneself as weak because of their gender and their desire to overcompensate by appearing fearless, ruthless and in many cases coming across as just plain mean.

Source- http://graphics.wsj.com/how-men-and-women-see-the-workplace-differently/

Hostile sexism involves antipathy toward, and negative stereotypes about, agentic women. In contrast, benevolent sexism involves positive but paternalistic views of women as highly communal.

Changing things up.

So after my tutorial with Aisha, she helped me redirect my focus to a much more interesting and relevant topic to me. I honestly came to the meeting empty handed, like completely. She laughed and just asked me- look, what bothers you? Like what do you want to make a significant change in?

I don’t know why but I immediately thought of control issues; and after control issues I immediately went to women; and after women I thought of the work place. I want my new question, my new intervention and my new project help tackle the glass house of women in the work place that feel compelled to create a much more controlling and (maybe masculine) persona as a means of earning respect, credibility and quite honestly sometimes just a fair wage.

I stated off my research by having conversations with my coworkers since curiously, where I work (a retail store in covent garden), the team is completely composed of women. It was interesting to see the micromanaging trends that they all saw themselves slipping into. It was also curious to see how all of them wanted to be taken seriously, although “they just work in a shop”. Now this is not research backed- but the conclusion I reached is that the girls don’t want to justify the job that they have, they want to be taken seriously in a professional environment or conversation, and they find it hard to do so when you’re a female, and that’s where the justifying comes in.

I still have so much research to do…

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