I love old buildings , and I usually feel a strange sort of curiosity mixed with nostalgia for the people and cultures that made them. Just in the UK I’d love to see the castle garrisoned by knights and squires, the barn full of hay and animals, the old mill humming, the Tudor pub in its heyday, the telephone exchange building at its historical cutting edge, the cathedral decked out in coloured paint, the rows of clerks in the bank, the WW2 airfield lined with Spitfires and Glen Miller on the gramophone…
Dead buildings – either ruins, or frozen-in-time museums and country houses – seem that much more evocative than the ones that manage to stay in use for centuries, which end up watered down and bastardised…
But that’s probably because we’re paying attention to the wrong things. We fixate on a neat snapshot of a culture at a moment in time, forgetting that these places grew out of a messy and dynamic culture just like ours, were disruptive (and probably disturbing) when they were built, and were evolving from the moment they were finished. We’ve always been leaving the village behind, and we couldn’t stay, and we couldn’t go back – even way back then.
Buildings stay alive and socially profitable when they stay relevant – when we keep them alive by changing them and use the old spaces in new ways – often new ways to achieve old purposes.
The alternative is a building’s slow and expensive death as the network of life around them shifts and ceases to nourish them, at which point they decay and disappear until those that survive become old enough and scarce enough to become interesting again, and the past that they represent is far enough away from us to be the subject of nostalgia and museums.
And all of this is true of our organisations, too.
DC had 198 views in March, from 82 visitors. In internet terms, this is a pitiful statistic. Almost no-one reads anything I write.
But I love it. Even apart from the fact that I write DC for reasons other than its enormous readership, I love it. I mean, apart from this, when was the last thing anything I’ve written was read 198 times?
And while I take a bit of pleasure in seeing how many people visit (welcome, by the way), I get enormous pleasure in seeing random people checking in from around the world. He’s the map for March 2019:
Seasons are a great tool for starting and ending well. They allow low-stakes launches and clean breaks. They make intensity easier by allowing fallow time and regeneration.
Seasons make it clear where you’re going, and for how long: “Season one will be six episodes, then we’ll have a fortnight off.”
Seasons make it easy for people to get off the train, and for making sure those that who stay on are committed: “We’ll do a month’s worth of meetings without fail – then everyone who wants to continue can re-register.”
And seasons often develop their own character: particular combinations of people; emerging themes; clusters of lessons learned. We remember them more vividly than endless, dusty summers; they season our lives.