Hello, and welcome back!
We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes over here at Parents’ Nook. This is the first of a series of weekly posts in which I’ll share my thoughts on creating sustainable communities and discuss the next phase in the evolution of PN.
The past year has amplified so many things that were already wrong with our society. Many young families are more disconnected than ever. Children need real-world community, and parents need tangible support. But how can we provide families with the trusted help and support that they need? For years, I’ve been pursuing an answer to this question.
“As we move into the future, we want to ensure that human needs remain a key input of the socio-technical systems we are creating.”
Without a strong and supportive community, Parents’ Nook would never have existed. Partnerships and collaborations played a huge role in cultivating each phase of the vision. I’ve always sought to build the Parents’ Nook Community with parents, play facilitators and location partners not for them. This is a community that we are co-creating together.
Over my years as a mother, I’ve realized that parents are in desperate need of a community that they can trust. We need community for everyday logistics, yes. But it goes beyond that. We need meaningful conversations and good advice and company. Humans are social animals. We need each other just to stay sane and be the best possible parents to our children.
Families need open-ended childcare and accessible resources that are an integrated part of their community. We need environments where our kids can flourish. When these resources are unavailable, parents default to the best options that they can find… and more often than not, these options fall short of what families need to thrive.
New mothers need time to tend to their own needs, which is almost impossible to do when you’re alone with a baby day after day. We all need the support of community, and these days most first-time parents have little if any community to depend upon.
Childcare and parent care need to evolve to fit these strange and solitary times. The future of work is decentralized, and parents need options that mesh with unusual schedules. We don’t want to drop our kids somewhere for ten hours and head to another day in the mines. Research suggests that it's not good for their mental health. We’re building something new, something that uses technology and modern knowledge of child development to meet our primal need for community.
Weaving a community through our own shared experience :
I was lucky to receive community love when I moved to this country with a baby. New friends held my hand and guided me, supporting me through that major transition. When postpartum depression made each day feel like a struggle, my friends made that burden easier to bear.
Experienced parents helped me to become the mother I am today. They helped me to survive those early days and gave me the strength to work on Parents’ Nook.
Even though I consider myself extremely lucky to have all these kind souls around me, often we have felt the need of a close-knit community and so much more. And thats whats what Parents’ Nook is all about, to create stronger communities for myself and for others who were struggling. Collaboration made these Nooks possible.
"When we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitches to everything in the universe." John Muir
We observed that collective intelligence, neighborhood cooperation, and trust each played a huge role in the success of each Nook. Each person who participated understood their interdependence with everyone else. We shared a mutual understanding.
Social synergy arises when we work together on a common mission.
Communities become more cohesive when we make visible the opportunities to connect, collaborate, and share resources.
Parents' Nook: The Next Chapter
Over the past four months, I have been reading a lot of research materials and having conversations with people who are passionate about parenting and early childhood development. I am so grateful for their guidance, thoughts, and time.
We have also developed meaningful relationships with a few open-source tech projects working to create technology on making the labor of individuals more visible and rewardable as they work together in a project or community .Their thoughts and guidance have helped us realize how we can use technology to create parenting communities that are supportive and trustworthy. We can even use the collective intelligence of these communities to boost local economies. And that’s what we will write in our next post, how local economies can be co-created and supported by the Nook communities.
We envision a future where Nooks facilitate connection, collaboration, and access to a wide range of resources -- both between individuals within a community and between one community and another, thus uplifting the local economy.
I will not accept a new normal that manifests as skyrocketing rates of postpartum psychosis and clinically depressed kids. Children deserve better, and so do we. There are countless people who are in desperate need of community, and we are working to create a world in which like-minded, supportive, local communities are accessible to everyone.
In upcoming posts, we’ll discuss how we’re connecting technology, community, and parenting in order to make this support accessible and sustainable for everyone. We will discuss Nooks as micro-communities, boosting local economies, and how we plan to use technology to solve these problems.
We would not have reached this stage without the help, encouragement, and support of our community. Thank you to everyone who opened their homes and businesses to Parents Nook, to those who have entrusted us with their children, and to the people who have ensured their safety.
Thank you Samantha and Christina for being my mentors and my support system while I figured things out, for helping me to think outside of the box, and for standing in through those rough patches.
Thank you Virginia, Melissa, Sarah, and Phuong for your unwavering support and enthusiasm. Thank you Shayla for your work as an editor and coauthoring the article. Thank you Thena for listening and helping me connect the dots on technical questions. Thank you Jojo and Miguel for holding the brainstorming space so elegantly. You all help me immensely everyday in taking the project to the next stage.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts. I am always ready to listen to you as we work to build a better future together.