Analogue leadership in a digital world

Intersticia’s Decade in Review

Intersticia’s Decade in Review

The emerging generation is one of hope, awakened and will reboot the way we live – regenerate society as you gain voice, implicitly awakened choices (Professor Lisa Miller).

Yesterday our UK Trustee Louise Sibley and I attended the World Premier of “Lost Histories“, a show based on the family history of Biripi and Gamillaroi musician Troy Russell, created for Musica Viva Australia’s In-Schools Program.  Troy, together with  Leila Hamilton and Susie Bishop entertained a small group of families from all walks of Australian life as they visited the Art Gallery of New South Wales to celebrate the opening of it’s new Library and Archive as part of the Gallery’s opening of its’ major new development.

This project came about due to Zoë Cobden-Jewitt, now one of our Intersticia Advisors, with whom we started working on our very first Australian project with the Bell Shakespeare Company when they created their Writers’ Fellowship in 2015.

As I sat and listened to Troy, Leila and Susie explore the memory-box holding these Lost History stories I began to think about the stories within Intersticia that we have all created over the past decade.  It was at the end of 2012 after Sam, Lock and I had been to the UK in the Summer with my Aunt Joan Doughton (whom our Doughton Scholarship is in memory of) that I first began seriously exploring the concept of creating a family Foundation through which to undertake our philanthropic activities, and the Intersticia Foundation Australia became a reality on 23rd July 2023.  Intersticia UK became a Registered Charity on 7th January 2019.

The idea of being able to support younger people as they journey through life began when I was a student at Goodenough College in 1985, but this was further stimulated by a conversation I had with John O’Neil, founder of The Good Life, in 2016.  The Good Life evolved from the Aspen Institute, which was created to enable business leaders to take time out to discuss philosophy, ethics and literature as a key part of their own leadership journey. In 2006 two Aspen teachers – John O’Neil (ex AT&T) and Pete Thigpen (ex Levi Strauss) realised that the lessons of Aspen needed to be brought to the tech-leaders and community of Silicon Valley, and so they created Good Life.

When I visited John in Sausalito in 2016 we talked about how important it was for elders with resources to enable and empower emerging stewards and he challenged me to create a Fellowship – a group of people of like mind that I could support in the work that they do to make the world a better place.  This is what has guided our thinking throughout the past decade and has informed the people we have chosen and the organisations we work with.

Here is an overview of our major activities in that time.

2013:

2014

  • We began working with the Web Science Trust and in partnership with them developed Brave Conversations in March 2017.
  • We supported our second Rowland Scholar, Hamish Laing.

2015:

2016:

2017:

  • We created our first Leadership Scholarship with Negar Tayyar as the first recipient.
  • We created Brave Conversations held at the Australian National University in Canberra.  From this has evolved into Future Worlds Challenge.
  • We continued our partnership with Bell Shakespeare supporting Teresa Jakovich in their Education Programme.
  • We supported our fifth Rowland Scholar, Osheen Arora.
  • Bel Campbell worked as Intersticia’s Creative Director co-creating Brave Conversations and the development of Future Worlds Challenge and became our third Leadership Fellow.

2018:

  • We held our first Intersticia Fellowship Retreat at Goodenough College which ten Fellows, both Australian and UK Boards, which was facilitated by Sam Crock and John Urbano.
  • We began working with Founders and Coders and Gaza Sky Geeks to create the Founders Programme which supported eight FAC Graduates and fifteen GSG Graduates to work on Tech for Better projects. Our first Founder Fellows being Joe Friel.
  • We supported our sixth Rowland Scholar, Timothy Wong.
  • We welcomed Nick Byrne as our second Leadership Fellow.

2019:

2020:

  • The Covid 19 Pandemic hit the world severely curtailing travel and all social activities.
  • As part of our adaptation forced by the Covid19 Pandemic we created our Digital Gymnasia Series of workshops, initially run through Goodenough College aimed at their Alumni and Student communities, but run out more broadly in 2021
  • The Digital Gymnasia material was integrated in to the Founders and Coders Social Machine curriculum with the help of FAC Graduate Hannah Stewart.
  • We held our second Intersticia Fellowship Retreat online with 17 (seventeen) Fellows and 4 (four) advisors (Sam Crock, Marianne Darre, John Urbano, Louise Sibley and Dan Sofer).
  • We supported our eighth Rowland Scholar, Sean McDiarmid.
  • We supported our third Doughton Scholar, Marco Valerio.
  • Louise Sibley replaced Alison Irvine as a Trustee of Intersticia UK.
  • We welcomed Marianne Darre and Philip Hayton as Intersticia Advisors.
  • Jacquie Crock began working with Intersticia as our first Intern.
  • Doughton Fellow Berivan Esen became a Trustee of Intersticia UK.

2021:

  • For the first time we funded two concurrent Goodenough Scholars, Farahana Cajuste and Sergio Mutis.
  • We continued our work with Yalla through creating the Yalla Apprenticeship Programme which supported two GSG Graduates to work full time with Yalla for six months.  One is now a full time employee of Yalla.
  • We held our first hybrid Intersticia Fellowship Retreat with 8 (eight) UK Fellows and Advisors attending in person at Schumacher College, Devon, and 15 (fifteen) Fellows and Advisors attending via Zoom.
  • We began working with Abeer Abu Ghaith, Founder of MENA Alliances.
  • Leadership Fellow Nick Byrne joined the Intersticia Foundation Board.

2022:

  • We supported Gaza’s first Rock Band Osprey V with some funding towards sound and recording equipment. 
  • We delivered our first Brave Conversations to the Solstrand Leadership Programme, Norway.
  • We supported our second Newspeak Scholar, Ardavan Afshar.
  • We began supporting the development of a First Nations’ Ensemble through the Musica Viva Australia “In Schools Programme” resulting in “Lost Histories”created by Troy Russell.
  • We supported the development of a new theatrical performance “Darkness” with Five Eliza Street, Newtown, Sydney to be premiered in January 2023.
  • We supported our eleventh Rowland Scholar, Yujui Li.
  • Abeer Abu Ghaith became a Leadership Fellow.
  • We welcomed Hannah Stewart as Founder Fellow.
  • We welcomed Zöe Cobden-Jewitt as an Intersticia Advisor.

Reflecting on the last ten years it seems fitting that we close the decade by once again working with Zöe on a project in Australia whilst also exploring new initiatives globally as we have always done.

From the beginning our aspirations for Intersticia were always global.  Ten years on we have now achieved this working with a range of organisations and supporting a Fellowship of individuals from all walks of life who are all contributing to the crafting of the story of Intersticia.

I would like to thank each and every person who has been a part of this.

An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being (Bertrand Russell).

 

 

The Yalla Apprenticeship Programme

The Yalla Apprenticeship Programme

We began our partnership with Founders and Coders in November 2018 by supporting the Founders Programme.  The objective was to give Founders and Coders (FAC) and Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG) Graduates some practical industry experience as well as the opportunity to work on projects which had social impact.  Over two years Intersticia funded three cohorts of Founders each comprising two graduates from London over three months who worked with three teams of Gaza (one team per month) from the Gaza Sky Geeks Code Academy on Tech for Better projects.

One outcome of the Founders programme has been the creation of the Yalla Co-Operative, a start-up Web Design and Development Agency formed by Joe Friel, Simon Dupree and Ramy Al Shurafa, with Simon working in Berlin, Ramy in Gaza and Joe in London.  Our second Founders cohort, Kristina Jaggard and Oliver Smith-Wellnitz, acted as Class Co-Ordinators of FAC 18 and Kristina has now started working with Yalla in Berlin.

As we reflect on the programme and what we have achieved it is time to move to the next phase.

The Idea

In London Founders and Coders has recently been granted the status of a UK Registered Apprenticeship Training Organisation which means that in addition to the Coding Bootcamp FAC is in a position to work more closely with employers by providing on the job training as well as coding skills. (FAC has developed guidelines for their programme which can be found here.)

In early 2020 as Yalla were exploring how to further support their Gaza team the idea began to emerge of Yalla itself taking on Apprentices which would provide GSG Graduates with ‘on the job’ experience whilst also helping Yalla to grow as a business.

This very much fits in with Intersticia’s desire to deepening our connection with existing Fellows whist also strengthening our impact on the projects we undertake.  By continuing to invest in both the GSG Code Academy graduates as well as Yalla as an young start-up enterprise we can created a prototype programme which demonstrates the ability of a company to work collaboratively from both Europe and Gaza whilst also continuing to give opportunities to Palestinian graduates.

The idea is that Intersticia UK will fund Yalla to create such a programme whilst also drawing on GSG’s mentoring network, FAC’s support through logistics and administration, and Intersticia’s coaching and mentoring expertise.  Once developed and tested then Yalla and GSG can take the concept to other partners and employers around the world.

How it will work

As with most things Intersticia we are making it up as we go along – there is no tried and tested model for this, nor are there other examples we can draw lessons from.  Yalla is a rare entity in it’s UK-Europe-Gaza partnership structure and this would be no different, but that is why this is the perfect philanthrophic opportunity.

Yalla have crafted a very comprehensive plan for the Apprenticeship Programme which is now being refined and, as we proceed, will evolve as we all learn.

The primary aim of the programme is to provide two recent graduates from the Gaza programme to earn a living wage while also gaining experience in a real life agency and practicing the hard and soft skills that they’ll require for meaningful employment.

Secondary aims are:

  1. To provide many recent graduates with the experience of applying for their first employment opportunity within the field of Web Development
  2. To provide the opportunity of permanent employment to new graduates living in Gaza
  3. To support recent graduates in building the leadership skills that they need to work with clients either as a part of, or independently of, Yalla (soft skills, project management, confidence in spoken and written communication, experience in remote working)
  4. To support recent graduates in building solid portfolios that showcase their interests and strengths
  5. To provide recent graduates with a chance to acquaint themselves with the technical skills which are commonly used before moving on to billable work
  6. To build a sustainable apprenticeship programme that can eventually be promoted to other organisations

Our Founder Fellow Kristina Jaggard will act as the Programme Facilitator and the application and interview process will take place in April 2021 with the programme commencing in May 2021.

Intersticia’s role

As always Intersticia works in the space where things are ill-defined, a bit messy and always challenging – the space where all things are possible.  During our conversations with Yalla over the past two years it is apparent that they have sufficient technical skill to give the Apprentices their ongoing technical and business experience but there is much more we can offer in the area of coaching and help with the ‘soft skills’.  To this end we will be helping with the Interview process and then working with the Apprentices during the six months of their Apprenticeship.  In addition we have engaged Ahmed Elqattawi, an English/Business coach and mentor working with Gaza Sky Geeks and who served as my translator for Brave Conversations Gaza, to join the team as our Gaza based resource and advisor.

It has been an enormous privilege to work with FAC, GSG and Yalla over the past few years –  this new initiatives takes our work to the next level truly demonstrating the potential of a small, agile and innovative project to have broader implications whilst enabling and empowering individuals to change the world.

 

February 2023
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