Fariha Raisa, Feedback Labs | June 29th, 2022
After the second wave of Covid devastated India in April 2021, Sangat Nepal heard of more people losing the battle to the disease every day. Calls for oxygen cylinders filled their social media feed, leading them to get off all social media. Talking to friends became increasingly tiring, there were no words to describe the collective experience of compassion and worry stretched thin. It was during this time that they felt the need for a space where the quiet was acceptable, where you didn’t have to order coffee, and you could be safe.
Fast Forward to September 2021, Sangat launched a community library from their veranda, catering to anyone who is looking for an offline, free, safe space to read, write, talk, or just be. This has partly emerged from their distrust and tiredness of online spaces, and the felt need for deeper conversations, and a physical hunger for what we’ve lost—community. This library is called Khwaabghar (house of dreams).
As the library continues to expand the space for the community, Sangat Nepal presented in a LabStorm at the Feedback+ Summit in Jacksonville to brainstorm ideas a community-owned space where people can feel safe to engage in difficult conversations. Discussions around building a physical respite in a digital world also formed a major part of the session.
- Building an open, physical space in a digital environment. Consider having an open mic night; holding spaces at different households to share day-to-day crafts and talent. Consider what the categories of activities are that might align with the mission of the library. Have an encouragement wall and consider adding a book recommendation element, and place little libraries anywhere.
- Community participation & owning the space. In person dialogue is so important. Sangat Nepal could explore a virtual option for community members that want to get together. Write down the purpose of the group and safe space; Take inventory of all of the skills in the core group and ask them to lead out on particular tasks.
- Subscription models to build social movement & safe space. Build a community statement that describes how each person is welcome, needed, and serves a purpose. Sangat Nepal should consider a ‘human library’ approach that enables people to share personal stories as well as consider the use of music and voice within the safe space
As the discussion came to a close, the presenter reflected on the key takeaways from the discussion. They were assured of the relevance and need exists for a space to safely gather, so the idea of a physical library was affirmed. The presenter felt encouraged to work towards meeting the community where they are, e.g. social media, even though it might seem to contradict the spirit of the library by being a physical respite. In doing so, the process will generate accountability. They felt the need to engage the library’s core group to use the tools that suit the specific community. In closing, they will expand on the suggestion of the LabStorm attendees to drive interaction among the community.
Learn More About LabStorms
LabStorms are collaborative problem-solving sessions designed to help organizations tackle feedback-related challenges or share what’s working well in their practice.
Presenters leave the experience with honest, actionable feedback and suggestions to improve their feedback processes and tools.
To learn more about participating in a virtual LabStorm, please visit feedbacklabs.org/labstorms.