Space. We occupy it, move through it, and have a really hard time understanding it. While humans have debated what space is and our human relationship to it for at least as long as we have recorded history, we do know some important things about space. There are spaces that make it much easier for us to experience our fuller humanity, where it is much easier to be fully engaged. There are also spaces that make it much harder to engage, to work with others.
While there are many researchers exploring our relationship to space, we each know, from our experience, what kinds of spaces invite more from us, engage us more deeply, and which kind shut us down, disengaging us.
As the types of problems that humanity takes on increase in complexity, it has become critical that people come together, each contributing their unique capacities to a collaborative effort. When people try to solve complex social problems on their own, they find that they are often lacking capacities that are key to shifting the dynamics inherent to the problem. Sometimes it takes a village, a collaborative effort.
Much of what is written today on “collaborative spaces” refers to social media or office arrangements for letting people work in the same space. Only some of it focuses on how the nature of the space affects the collaboration. We do know that most people prefer windows, comfortable temperatures, fresh air, and connection with nature. We also know that people prefer spaces where they can more easily align with their deeper purpose, the energy that motivates their love for the future, and where they can more easily relate with others, and have access to the vital structures and substances they need. Said in the opposite, spaces are deadening when they make it hard to be physically comfortable, when they disconnect people from their deeper purpose, when it is hard to relate with others, and vital substances and structures are inaccessible.
People need to be able to experience themselves in the space, physically. That is because people are physical beings. When people are deprived of their senses, not sensing where they are, they can go crazy. People need to have access to air, water, food, movement. That is because people are also biological, living, and they need access to vital substances in their space. People need to relate to other living beings. That is because people are also social beings, they need to be in relationship with other things and people. People need to be able to choose how they align their intentions, their deeper purpose, with their creativity, their thoughts, their feelings, their intentions, their action. That is because people are also choosers, they need to have certain freedoms to express themselves. There are spaces that engage more of this physical, biological, social chooser and there are spaces that disengage it.
So, while the human connection to space is still not well understood, clearly the spaces where we interact make a difference. Interacting in spaces that enhance the collaboration that we so deeply need today is a choice. If you know the difference, it is your choice.