Discover more from New_ Public
💐 Introducing our Community Stewards Guild.
Meet the five leaders helping us build healthier digital public spaces.
Hi there! Paul here. Welcome back to our summer of Options.
Ravon and Deepti are back this week to unveil our inaugural Community Stewards Guild. While the Guild helps New_ Public figure out our “options” for new tools and patterns, you too can help us choose our next adventures.
The New_ Public Survey is back for a fourth year, and the input we get every year plays a huge part in what we write, build, and produce.
As an added bonus, every person who completes The New_ Public Survey will receive a free tote bag, while supplies last.
We’re very grateful for your support, and we would love to get your perspective. Hope to hear from you in the survey. —PM
Stewardship: A critical ingredient for healthy digital public spaces.
A little less than a year ago, Deepti wrote a piece for our newsletter making a call to invest in community leaders and maintainers as keepers of our democracy.
Since then—thanks, in part, to conversations with many of you—we have shifted from referring to these individuals, the people who create spaces for community building, as “community entrepreneurs” to “community stewards”.
Stewardship better reflects the value they provide all of us: the ongoing care they put into ensuring the health of a community, the way they protect the norms of a community, and the sense of civic duty with which many of them lead.
Just as a garden requires stewardship and care, healthy community spaces need it too so that we all share a sense of belonging, growth, and mutual care.
At New_ Public, we don’t believe healthy digital public spaces can exist without publicly-spirited community stewards.
These stewards combined with platforms that enable community (rather than corporate or centralized) control, like the ones Sam shared in our last newsletter, are two of the most critical ingredients in our recipe for the future of healthy digital public spaces.
For us, this means our Community Lab is focused on developing tools for them. We want to be grounded in their lived understanding of what it takes to build a healthy publicly-spirited community, we want to make their jobs easier, and inspire more people to step up into this work.
And we don't see ourselves building for them but are committed to them, which means shared ownership in co-design to ensure that the final design outcomes reflect the diverse perspectives, needs, and insights of these leaders and their communities, to result in more inclusive solutions.
Last month we launched the Community Stewards Guild toward this effort—an intergenerational, intersectional, and multidisciplinary collective of online and offline community leaders—to collaborate with us in a community-centered product design process.
Our aspirations for the Guild are to help recognize the significant role community stewards uphold and to help shape a sense of community among—hopefully someday—a global network of stewards, and to be a home for community stewards aspiring to build the future of a more democratic society.
This means that we are committing to four main goals to hold us to equitable design of healthy digital public spaces:
Anchoring our design process in accordance with our values for community care and empowerment over profit and metrics. We believe that through deep engagement with community stewards, we will ensure that our research and product design are grounded in community-first centered values, ethics, and impact.
Showcasing the historic expertise embodied by community leaders and maintainers—especially of underestimated groups who have been historically excluded from the tech industry such as Black, Latinx, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, women, and youth—of both online and offline spaces that serve as foundations to both their communities and our democracy.
Collectively building open resources with community stewards that make tangible their body of knowledge to exemplify its significance to the design of healthy digital social spaces and to influence more community-critical design across the tech and design ecosystem.
Becoming a platform for an intersectional and intergenerational network of public-spirited community stewards across a wealth of experiences, to help foster the exchange of knowledge, resources, and greater investment in community stewardship.
Meet our inaugural class of Community Stewards.
Over the past year, we have been working with many of you to identify our inaugural pilot cohort of Guild members. These individuals share a commitment to community building across diverse needs and a desire to build a movement. We could not be more excited about sharing who they are with you as they are the real engines and wisdom behind our work.
Lennon Flowers (she/her) is the co-founder & Executive Director of The Dinner Party Labs, which takes difficult experiences and subjects, and uses them as the starting point to help people make connections, build trust, and form relationships that matter.
Euan Hwang (he/him) is the current YouthLink Manager at CenterLink: The Community of LGBTQ Centers and facilitates "Q Chat Space," which provides live chat support groups for LGBTQ+ teens.
Chris Samuel (he/him) is a pastor, conflict resolution counselor, and serves as a local missionary to Detroit, MI, through his church Lake Pointe Bible Church.
Teju Ravilochan (he/they/any) believes that in community, we have everything we need. He founded GatherFor in 2020 to help neighborhoods become self-sufficient.
Lola Omolola (she/her) is the founder of Female IN (FIN), a global network that provides a platform for over two million women from diverse backgrounds to connect, share experiences, and support each other.
“Eager to understand what tools are out there (presently and on the horizon) that enable people to find one another and to connect around invisible identities, and best practices when it comes to the adoption and roll-out of new technologies. I suspect a lot of the challenges we've both seen and experienced are ones that different folks within the Guild will have tackled…”
—Lennon Flowers, The Dinner Party Labs
Stay tuned, and stay in touch.
Over the next several months, we look forward to sharing what we’re learning from and with the Community Stewards Guild, and sharing their stories here.
While we are focused on working closely with this inaugural group to collectively realize the Guild, please be in touch with Ravon, who is leading this work at New_ Public, to learn more about the ways you or your organization can support or collaborate. 🌳
Brought to you by the Walmart Foundation.
This edition of the newsletter is made possible by a new grant from the Walmart Foundation.
Their generous gift played a vital role in the launch of our Community Stewards Guild. This grant also supports the work of our Community Lab as they create, test, and validate design patterns for healthy digital public spaces.
We are excited to support the Walmart Foundation’s mission to foster resilience and greater cohesion locally by supporting collective settings in communities. Many thanks to the Walmart Foundation!
And that wraps up this week. Next time, we’ll do a little show and tell.
Misting my houseplants,