A seedling sprouting from earth.

The top TEN things inspiring the Catalyst Producers this month!

As 2023 really gets into its stride, it feels like a time of great change and new beginnings for us in the Catalyst Producer team. We gathered our closest partners in January for a brilliantly connecting and joyful in-person event. It set us up for the year! We’re now immersed in planning and design with our steering group, commissioning and reviewing several discovery research projects (more on those soon), and continuing to support our Initiative Lead partners to work ever more autonomously and collectively in their delivery and governance of Catalyst offers. 

With the longer, lighter days comes fresh perspectives and more energy to grapple with the complex, deep and relational work of systems change. I’m reflecting on the need to tend our soil, to quote the excellent Mia Mingus on the Emergent Strategy podcast. How might we nourish these seeds (i.e. people, communities, projects, aspirations) that we’re sowing now, to give the Catalyst garden its best chance of flourishing? 

One way, as Mia observes, is by being ever-mindful of the nutrients we’re taking in - the stories we’re telling ourselves, the relationships we’re investing in, and the media we’re consuming. 

Here’s a flavour of this month’s highlights… 

  1. We’re loving the vibe and ambition of Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures
  2. Friend of Catalyst, Tayo Medupin, shared the exciting launch of the Black Design Guild, a six-month programme for Black future leaders of research and design
  3. This Stanford Social Innovation Review piece on 10 dangers to collective impact has some good watch-outs as we move into a phase of model design with our steering group. We’re considering the pros and cons of different collective impact models, and the need to be clear about whether Catalyst is (or should be) primarily a field-builder, field-catalyst or platform - or something else! 
  4. Talking of platforms, we liked this ownership economy tooling landscape map from Ownco, 'a platform to distribute company governance to a variety of stakeholders'
  5. This Ratio podcast, with organisers Olivia Masoja, Marzena Zukowska, and Stephanie Wong explores important themes of power, relationships, and the centering of justice, not charity, in talking about societal change
  6. We’re talking a lot about language, and enjoyed this house style guide on writing about disabled people from disability equality charity Scope, as well as this blog on disability-inclusive language from our own ace Comms partners, Passion4Social
  7. A good reminder that deep seriousness and deep playfulness are not opposites
  8. Really enjoying James Plunkett’s series of essays for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, particularly this one on Unequality: When inequality changes, our strategies must too
  9. For a longer read (or listen!), The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology Is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants by Karen Bakker is one of those books that fundamentally changes how you see and relate to the world. It features fab examples of how tech is shifting our perceptions of reality and our relationship to other living beings
  10. At our in-person day, our Inclusion partners Held Collective facilitated an awesome story-sharing session where Siana and I discovered our shared love of the ‘art rock’ band Everything Everything. Their latest album, Raw Data Feel, has lots to say about what it means to be alive as a human in an increasingly digital world, and even includes some AI-generated lyrics :)

If you have a think piece or resource of any kind that you think could nourish us and our work, please share it!

Drop us a line at hello@thecatalyst.org.uk Or tweet us @wethecatalysts.

*Image credit: Pexels

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Ellie Hale
Ellie Hale