Last week Boris Iskhakov, Bloom Network’s amazing visionary brand designer, visited our executive director, Magenta Ceiba, to create the design for Bloom Network’s new website! We had an incredible time making our dreams real.
Here a sneak peek, before we implement some rounds of feedback from the rest of our web dev team.
The network leaders have seriously been talking about what we want out of our website since 2007 back when we were on the evolver.net/civicactions site. This first phase of our site will be oriented as a media site, featuring live interactive webcasts, articles, a podcast and upcoming local Bloom events. From there we’ll likely add a wiki for people to start compiling regenerative how-to’s across our content areas. Everything about the site and this whole network is about directing people toward taking local action where they live and work, and supporting each other globally.
I should say that the initial cards-style layout was created by developer and interaction designer Matthew D. Howell, and Brandon Ancier, Bloom's marketing director.
This is the first time Boris has done UI, and the first time I’ve managed a website build project. I'm really happy with the solutions he came up with for displaying the CTA's (call to action), and making one long running page for the informational pieces which looks like a print layout (with a sticky side-bar index). His background is print design. For phase 2 or 3 of this website we want to make a quarterly transmedia digital magazine for members, so we made progress on that already!
I love how much Boris "gets" what’s possible with the website. I explained how we can intersperse art projects or inspirational videos between the serious content. For example, I snagged a video of Bloom Indianapolis’ David Hedriana petting moss last time we hung out, and it’s cute and makes you smile and reminds you to connect with nature. Boris laughed and exclaimed, “YES, that!”
The site will look a bit like a collaborative social media feed. From here we’ll iterate how we incorporate more networking tools on the site. For now the online networking is largely going to happen through the live webcasts. For example, members have access to a members-only videoconference call where they can share about what projects they’re working on, what problems they’re facing, and inspirations they’d like to share. Susan Florries hosts a monthly healing session on a specific topic that affects people internationally, and that’s another place to meet people from across the world who are thinking holistically about social change. We use Zoom videoconferencing, and you can see up to 250 people on video at once! It also has a green screen feature, where you can broadcast from, say, space, or a microscopic photo of coral. I’ll have to make a mini tutorial that for folks so we all know how to play with it if we want to.
As we populate the site with content, I foresee it functioning like a search engine specifically for finding regenerative solutions. We’re checking in with the developer to see if he can code an animation into our header graphics on the website, so that each topic area is typed out letter by letter. That would illustrate the search engine aspect of the site and give a hint as to how to explore the content.
(Related, I wrote a sprawling index as a skeleton for the wiki. If you’re curious or want to give any feedback on it, that’s here. )
In general, I think the way we’re setting up our navigation will be more visually engaging and allow you to “grok” more information at a glance, than surfing Google or Facebook or Wikipedia. I met an app developer who built out a tool that works really great on mobile, where you can visualize search results as a globe of nodes/circles. On a touchscreen, you can grab the globe and expand, shrink, or rotate it, to get a kinesthetic sense of exploring the data. I think especially for folks who grew up with the internet, this kind of interface is going to be more pleasant to interact with than lists and linearity. I know enough VR developers, as well as a holographic interface engineer, that I know it’s possible down the road to create a fully 3D search interface. But here I am dreaming of the future. For now, this site will help us get our financial building blocks in place, and establish our brand identity. I have a bazillion ideas for where we can go with Bloom as we get rocking, but hopefully what we build out will be a collective process based on what members most want us to direct resources toward.
I think Boris and I did a really good job this week of setting a precedent for what working together on Bloom looks like. We worked on Bloom, we took breaks to walk to the Yuba River which is close to my house. We nourished each other with good food, inspiring media shares, and personal support about things going on in our lives right now. Working on Bloom is the utmost expression of a collaborative art project I could imagine working on. This week with Boris, establishing our working process, and engaging both of our creative design minds together, was one of the most beautiful weeks of my life so far. Every day my mind opened to new ways of thinking and deeper self-actualization.
I was surprised to discover how deep our visions integrate for what we want to do in life and business. There’s a company that Boris wants to start, which would align well with Bloom in mission and execution, and he’d like to partner it with Bloom and donate a percentage of the profits to the organization. Another Bloom producer in Sydney, Australia is working on getting an event production company off the ground with a similar intention to partner and profit share. That’s how we’re designing this thing, to be symbiotic and mutually supportive to initiatives that support regenerative culture. I still can’t believe how deeply Boris understands the design process in that sense - not just the graphic design, not just the website design, but the experience design and its social ramifications. There aren’t many people in my life I can hang with intellectually or as a designer, and Boris makes an amazing design copilot. I know as we keep growing Bloom we’ll find more people who are jamming on similar wavelengths.
It was nice to practice shared leadership together, as well. Boris was excited to take the lead on making posters and stickers as perks for Bloom members, and inviting artists to contribute to that. Bloom has been planning a traveling educational “plug-in” of sorts for EDM festivals and conferences. Boris expressed interest in leading that process as well. There are two other team members, from San Francisco and Melbourne Australia, who want to co-lead it, so I’m excited for that project to be set in motion when it’s time. I’m handling the biz dev piece, I just want to wait until the new site is up before we start fundraising for that project.
Bloom has been an unusual start-up to work on. Because of the massiveness of the vision, I had to gather all the proposed projects from the network leaders, what we know we're capable of given the right infrastructure and resources, and then crunch down to what are the beginning, foundational building blocks we need to build to get that infrastructure in place. This website, the webcasts and the membership model is the first cluster of revenue-generation. While I've thrown out a lot of possibilities in this blog, I'm very relieved to be in a more agile development phase now where we work on product market fit for one thing to start.
Boris laid out a process for our design team going forward. We’ll have a weekly creative meeting to check in about tasks we’re working on and what’s next. He described to me what works well for him for following through on projects, and shared some of his experiences with his current company, launchforth.io where they have a weekly standup meeting so everyone stays on the same page. We got a better sense together of what design assets we need to make in the coming year. We intend to make a media assets page on our site for people to find our logo, spirit book, social media kit, elevator pitch, etc. I want us to make a sticker that says “Welcome to Team Love Genius” for new Bloom organizers, because that’s what this is and it’s really fun!! We also planned to come together in person once a quarter to work IRL!
Since I became the director of Bloom in 2013, there have been short periods of time where a team of people came together regularly to complete a process, but I’m relieved to have a regular weekly meeting where I’m not alone on leading all the moving parts of Bloom. Susan Florries who is the lead on Bloom's Healing Circle working group, is also regularly checking in now and leading that group’s process. So we’re starting to land in solid collaborative management, even before we have budget to straight up pay staff.
I do hope we get to that point soon though, of being able to pay our people for their time. If reading this blog is making you super excited and you want to help, you can sign up to be a member or make a one-time donation here: http://bloomnetwork.org/members.html
That’s my report from last week’s design sprint. Sending you love and light from Nevada City, California.
is an international collective of people and projects in service to regenerative culture. This blog features events and media from Bloom's local chapters in 34 cities across 6 countries.