I came into the office this Monday morning and felt a tiny sliver of what my mom and dad must have had when their last kid left for college—on one hand, overjoyed to have the bathroom to themselves again—on the other hand, awed at how quickly it all happened and amazed at what walked out their door.
Walking into the Barefoot College workspace now, it feels like a giant pixelated rainbow exploded. We fully embraced the neon Post-its. We went ceiling to floor with our ideas, each one of us contributing small pieces to the big picture. Now, after the Lab, some of the narrative is totally lost to the process. Still, it’s fascinating to explore the workspace objectively, to peel away the layers of diagrams and lists from the wall and catch glimpses of the bigger picture in phrases like Contextual Solutions, Opportunity Areas, and Face to Face Communication is Key.
In the process of investigating the walls in this way, I came across the above drawing that Darby, a designer on the team, made the first day. As Meagan, Bata, and Mona told us the Barefoot College story, Deborah captured, Dave ideated, I asked, and Darby drew. She edited what she heard into a concise narrative that ends with a question mark. And OHHHHHH what a question mark it was.
The Barefoot College Solar Engineering Program is growing by leaps and bounds, teaching illiterate grandmothers from all over the world to electrify their villages and pass on their knowledge. With this growth comes a tremendous communication challenge, which we at the Lab all saw as a tremendous opportunity. As the Solar Engineering program continues to scale, how can we facilitate the engineers’ personal, technical, and organizational communication? All the while, we must consider the roadblocks of space, illiteracy, and language barriers. It’s a doozy.
Back to Darby’s question that first day, “Does it get resolved?”
The Barefoot College team spent the week assessing existing resources, dreaming up new ones, and exhausting possible solutions. Together we wallowed in ambiguity and celebrated breakthroughs. “Learning experience” is the understatement of the millennium. In the end, each one of us was proud of and excited by the outcome. Despite the twists and turns along the way, we arrived in a place that none of us could have predicted or manifested on our own. I have full faith that the idea we made together will grow and form into something unimaginably cool, slowly but surely. I am so eager to watch that happen.