The Vanguard of a Network

 
 

After 6 years of intensive research, development, and experimentation we are embarking on this journey. We are fundraising to design and launch a space in the Bay Area as the vanguard of a future global network of neighborhood centers. This space will serve as the testbed for scaling, helping us take the programming we have had working across the world for several years to a new, professionalized level, deploy and hone our business model, and have a model to show future funders. And we are inviting visionary philanthropists, designers, leaders, and storytellers to join us in making the public understanding of humanity accessible to all people. 

 
 

The First Ubuntu Lab

 
 
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Introducing a new category of community spaces

Imagine you walked into your local Apple store, but instead of getting an experience that transformed you from a PC or Android user to an Mac or iPhone devotee, you found an experience that transformed you from “woke” to “activated”…

We have set our sites on building just such a place.

A “storefront” level museum, community center, design hub, and really something that none of us have ever seen before. Within the walls you will find a rotating schedule of topics on the human experience and global zeitgeist brought to life through our unique blended exhibit platform and programs to help you develop and deploy a skilled understanding of people in your life, family, work, and community. Much like an Apple store, the content is only the grist for a larger experience, in our case facilitated by expert guides that can help you develop the capacity to understand by exploring a topic with you, teaching a class on design, or helping you capture your lived experience in a story that is shared in the exhibit.

We are excited to bring everything together that we have learned about understanding people, teaching people to understand people, presenting compelling content and engaging people in learning, and guiding them to eye-opening and world-expanding experiences and making it more than the sum of its parts. A space to catalyze a community, and bring understanding to life

Our first space.

And while we are excited for the impact this individual space will have on the community within which it is embedded, we are doubly excited for what it represents on the global stage. It is the first in a network spaces, made stronger, with added depth, and power by networking the content, sharing and developing - in real time - the methods of teaching and learning. There are more than a dozen cities committed to being second, we’re ready to build a space that incentivizes them to rapidly deploy this model.

 
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One Space, Three Functions

 

The model of an Ubuntu Lab brings together three 20th century institutions - Museums, Community Centers, and Cafes - reimagined and reforged into one, cohesive, impactful 21st century space. By using a cafe to draw the curious but cautious into an exhibition space that feels both informative and resonant and is fed by a community studio that empowers marginalized voices and talent we can create a space that brings people in from across a spectrum of engagement with understanding and serve them for who they are as they enter.

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Exhibition

Free and open to the public, the exhibition space is our content engine.

Our exhibit platform leverages the flexibility of digital to keep topics informed by up to the minute developments while allowing visitors to participate in the lived experience expressed; and it uses physical objects to root the content in the real world and local context. Its modular nature means it can be a workshop space for schools and organizations on a weekday, a facilitated exhibit on weekends, and the background content of a lecture series at night.

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Studio

A learning and design laboratory, the studio is the engine that powers our content and pedagogy.

It is where our team co-creates new exhibits with local youth and a global network of experts; where kids traditionally excluded from creative careers can build the basic skills of design, storytelling, and entrepreneurship; and it is where parents and teachers can come to hone the skills of facilitating and guiding learners to developing understanding.

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Cafe

The bridge to the outside world, the cafe is what gives a visitor a complete experience.

It is a lower barrier to entry for those who don’t naturally feel welcome in a museum or drawn to reflecting on the human experience. It is a place to sit and reflect on what you’ve learned, and perhaps begin a conversation you’ve not had before. And it is a curated resource center for learners, seekers, and educators to find the tools they need to take their learning beyond our doors.

 

How might someone experience it?

 
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Its a mid-sized storefront between your neighborhood Mexican restaurant and the post office, the kids of place that is much an anchor of activity as either of those two staples. You find yourself planning family excursions during particularly tense moments in society, but more and more just stopping in to see what’s new, what interesting global perspective has come through, and to check out the list of speakers and events coming soon.

 
 

You’d begun to fret a bit about how your youngest son, not-artistic, but highly creative, was going to find his place in the world. But since joining the design studio’s intern program he’s found an outlet, not only for his enterprising nature, but also his deep concern for others. In the last few months he has begun bringing his friends in to show them the exhibits he’s been working on, has struck up a mentorship with a history professor in  Cape Town and seems to have found a path.

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Your daughter, just out of college, and in her first job at a startup in Nashville, told you to check out this months exhibit on immigration especially the piece on diasporas. The parts about far flung communities really struck a chord with her as she remembered stories your mom told her about her mom’s journey to the US from Sicily. When you get there not only do you see her words, but also the experience of refugees currently landing in Palermo, your grandmother’s hometown.

 
 

Your middle daughter is off in New York, but has found her local Lab’s cafe (turned wine and beer bar after 7) to be the go to date destination for potential partners who want to show off how woke and cosmopolitan they are. And she doesn’t mind shuffling through the “library” of used travel guides and fantasizing about where she might move after college.

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The Purpose of a First Space

 

To Bring Understanding to People

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As part of the context and culture of its location each space has its own unique challenges and opportunities, but all share a common purpose: to help people understand people. Whether its by helping them better understand something in the news, a piece of the human condition, themselves, others, or the mechanisms of society, the goal is to pique curiosity, spark conversation, and give them the tools and techniques to find their own answers.

Outcomes in a Community:

  • For Individuals

    • A frame of mind that sees opportunity in difference and power in collaboration

    • The skills to deploy understanding at work and home to increase personal fulfillment and professional success

    • A knowledge of the spectrum of humanity that helps them navigate an interdependent and interconnected world.

  • For Communities

    • Increased social cohesion with less conflict and increased collaboration between people of different backgrounds

    • Activated citizens who are able to participate and empower their leaders with a full understanding of the human consequences of public policy

    • A 21st century workforce that is set to contribute to an economy that is increasingly dependent on understanding people in order to create, collaborate, and serve.

Of course the first space presents its own set of strategic priorities and goals. While one space is a gift and an important end unto itself, the magic really comes when we are able to connect people, expand ideas, and create a collective experience through a global network of spaces. We are excited by the global interest in the Ubuntu Network, and we know that the greatest journeys all begin with a first step, in our case a first space.

Outcomes for the Ubuntu Lab:

  • Perfect the model

    • We know the pieces work, now we have to figure out how they work together.

    • Our gifted team can facilitate understanding, next is training others to facilitate

    • Decades of experience running institutions have informed our sustainable funding model, we need to test and iterate to keep the doors open for decades.

  • Sow the seeds of scale

    • Interested leaders from cities around the world want to see an Ubuntu Lab in action before they commit to bringing one to their constituents. This is that showpiece.

    • This space will give us a place to harden our practices and platform getting it ready for replication.

    • Give us a home to start co-creating tools with young learners to bring understanding to the furthest corners of the world.

To Build an Organization

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The Time is Now

 
 
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The Next few years will Need better EXPLANATIONS and more unity

We need understanding between people now more than ever. Between upcoming events like the US Elections and Brexit, the continued trajectories of economic fragmentation and climate, and the general feelings of hatred, polarization, and fear at record levels the world is going to feel like a very very difficult place over the next few years

But it doesn’t have to be.

If there is a resource for nuanced information and self-exploration to inform us before we speak; a place to turn to to begin discussions rather than take side; an organization with the goal to unite and undo the divide the world can be a very very different place.

 
 

WE Are Ready

The Ubuntu Lab has been incubating this concept for a while now. The research has been going on for over 15 years. Design and development for more than 6. Prototyping and piloting for 2. Our models of learning, content creation, and impact are proven and robust.

It’s time to put it into action.

The World Needs Ubuntu

Understanding alone cannot solve our problems but we will never solve the greatest challenges humanity faces without understanding.

  • The climate needs collaboration

  • The economy needs a human touch

  • Politics need compromise

  • People need their humanity back

All of these are exclusively available at the Ubuntu Lab.

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Help Us Build It

 
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