Ellen McGirt | Essays

It’s Time to Find Your People

Announcing Equity Observer, Design Observer’s new editorial vertical and newsletter focused on the people and ideas redesigning the world for good. Sign up here.

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One thing has become clear in these strange and divided times: You can find your people if you know where to look.
This was the beautiful message from Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, the particle physicist and indefatigable justice advocate tapped for the Design Observer Twenty: The Redesigners list, which was published this fall to lift up remarkable people, projects, and big ideas solving an urgent social need.
We were discussing her quest to understand the mysteries of the cosmos when she mentioned that people were often surprised to know it was possible to see the Milky Way with the naked eye. I know I was.

“There are very few really dark places,” says the dark matter expert.
That we are robbing ourselves and each other of the night sky means that we are also robbing ourselves of the opportunity to look up and reflect on our place in the cosmos in the same way our ancestors did.

It’s something I’d never considered: a shared barrier to an existential legacy, populated with people who don’t realize they’re connected through exclusion. Families in brightly lit suburbs. Incarcerated people. City-dwellers. Third-shift workers. People who don’t have access to nature.

And, it really matters. “It’s a chance to think about: ‘What is this universe that I live in?’” she says. “Everyone has a right to know the universe.”
Next month, and by popular demand, Design Observer is launching a new editorial vertical called Equity Observer to expand our understanding of the people, projects, and ideas addressing the inequities that unite us, whether we know it or not. 
As in The Redesigners list, we will chart the innovators — those using new tools and forging new paths of progress in design, business, education, health, philanthropy, energy, the built environment, race, identity, sustainability, civic life, poverty alleviation, and justice.

You can also expect: 
  • The latest thinking on inclusive leadership, directly from senior leaders, researchers, and experts
  • Key developments in artificial intelligence and related algorithmic tech
  • A focus on the human side of transformation — hope, healing, empathy, and (actual) self-care
We will also be examining the barriers that are putting civic participation increasingly at risk through:
  • Ongoing coverage of the legal challenges to inclusion initiatives in business and public life
  • A year-long investigation into democracy in the U.S, focusing on voting access, gerrymandering, and ballot design
  • Sharing of best practices to engage diverse and divergent voices in meaningful dialogue
To start, please sign up here for our free, twice-weekly newsletter, written and curated by me, Ellen McGirt, an award-winning business journalist, and my colleague, writer and editor Delaney Rebernik, along with a growing roster of expert voices.

Speaking of which, let me give Prescod-Weinstein the last word.
When I asked her what gives her the energy to continue her transformational work, she said a shared community is the way forward. “I guarantee that you are not the first person to have whatever concern you’re having,” she told me. But just like seeing the stars, finding the others will take some work.

“Look for your people,” she says. “Look in books. In videos. You may find them on social media. And they might not look like you expect them to.” (Which is a good thing, she notes.) “But they’re there, and it’s everyone’s job to expand their idea of what change can look like.”
We hope that Equity Observer will become the place for you to find your people, the ones asking the right questions — and creating necessary solutions — for this beautiful and complex world.

Until then, keep looking up.

See you in January.

Ellen McGirt

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