Our driving, and unified purpose here at Airship has been “to make a place where authentic community thrives.” For obvious reasons of late we’ve met new and unusual challenges in our efforts to fulfill that mission; particularly the part about “making a place”. How do we go about designing a customer experience without customers? During a time when face-to-face interaction is prohibited, how do we run a business designed around social connection? Just over four weeks ago, we literally “unmade a place” by removing all of our furniture from our cafe in order to maintain the safety of our guests, which sent a clear message that our retail space was no longer a place to hang out, no longer a place to connect. So, if creating an environment around a physical space is not an option, then how do we fulfill our mission to foster authentic community without this critical component? It’s obvious that we must change. The environment around us has changed drastically, but what we’ve noticed here is that our team’s culture has always been one with an internal locus of control. Change begins within. Our effort to reimagine ourselves within this new, and rapidly changing environment starts with knowing that we are able, a “can-do attitude”, or the belief that positive change is possible. In the midst of the pandemic shutdown we've found that if we truly want to gain ground with regards to authenticity in community, then we must “unmake” our place in it so that we can reimagine ourselves in new ways that bring benefit.
This unmaking happens on an individual level. It’s an awareness of identity brought on by solitude. Have you noticed a refreshing shift in perception towards inner resolve during this time of social disconnect? Clarity of thought and sense of purpose seem more easily attainable when everything around you is Covid-weird. While spending more time alone, are you becoming more aware of the things that matter to you the most? We are shaped by our social context. Take us out of that context and we’re left with ourselves, our motivations, our intentions. Scary thought, right? Well, not really. As it turns out, it’s rather restorative to spend time with ourselves. As it turns out, space for solitary contemplation is healthy. That’s because solitude provides time and space for our true identity to come to the surface of our consciousness, and as our true identity is revealed, our ability to contribute in our unique way is realized, therefore creating benefit not only for us as individuals, but also for the group as a whole. Ironic? Sort of. For good or bad, it’s virtually impossible to avoid the influence of our social environment, but it seems necessary to limit our social interaction from time to time, in order to facilitate the emergence of the truest expression of one’s self -- our creative gift to the world -- the beneficial contributions that we have to offer our communities. Our true identity is constantly trying to get out, but our constant search outside ourselves misleads us into false realities where our voice is muted. In other words, as we seek understanding about our identity from others, we overlook ourselves. This leads to a dangerous dependency on the outside world in a misguided effort to fit in, thereby perpetuating the discontinuous amalgamation of confused, voiceless individuals. The real danger of our constant outward pursuit for identity is that we’re missing out on all the greatness that we each bring to the party. It may seem odd, but correct, that this time of solitude and social distancing is exactly what the doctor ordered for a healthy dose of introspection that is required to set our minds towards positive change. It’s ok to fly solo for a bit. It’s time to embrace solitude, get to know yourself and allow your true self to shine through. We will be a better, stronger community for it.
Onward and upward!