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  • Gabriela Moreira


Why is holdspace a revolutionary skill and for everyone? And why is holdspace is about becoming an adult?

We are in a context of society where we have the largest population in history and at the same time we have the highest rate of loneliness ever. Why, even surrounded by so many people, do you feel lonely?

There are infinite answers to this question: Byong in "The Burnout Society" would say that it is the sense of individuality that is causing this. In another habd, geographers would say globalization and the fact that verticalized cities do not allow for the creation of communities. In this article, however, I will foucos in one thing: design.

There is an "invisible" design behind every context we visit or live in, rules that make up that space. Most of them are not even in place, nor do we know that it is a "rule".

Why do you walk into a room and say good morning and not something else? Why don't you ask for a discount at the supermarket, but when buying a course you do? Why do you go to a party at work with one type of clothes and at home you wear other clothes? There are thousands of things that you do, in the most diverse spaces, that you don't even realize why you do it. You do it just because it is common sense, because it is that way, because it has always been that way. This is not bad, nor is it good, and not putting it into either of these two categories allows you to experience it and go deeper.

Think of a game that you enjoyed as a child or that still excites you today. How does it work? How was it created? Who created it? Who made its rules? Who said that you can only throw the ball with your foot? Commonly, we just get the game ready and play it, we don't participate in the construction of it, we don't have the possibility to modify it as it is played. You just played it. And what does this have to do with the situation of loneliness that I brought up at the beginning of the text?

It have been given a game board of competition, of individuality, of hierarchy to us, since that we born. And we just play this game. If you stop to observe, there are countless things projected and designed so that there is no collectivity, no community: the screens, the square shape of the desks, classrooms in rows, cars and more cars, buildings where you don't even know your neighbor.

There is a phrase from our friend Winston Churchill that I paraphrase here to: We shape our spaces and then they shape us. Our spaces, culture, environment, people, influence us much more than we imagine. In a text by a guy I really admire, Alex Bretas, he brings how it is a myth that only mentality, the so-called mindset, shapes our behavior. "The Idea of the Mindset That Moves Mountains overlooks the fact that we imitate what other people think and do, we are traversed by the emotionalities of our communities (appreciation and judgment, for example), we try not to go outside the norm in almost everything, and we live our reality in a gregarious way. It's not that mindset isn't important - it's that other things are considerably more important."

We have our lives shaped by people, structures, and purposes that we are even unaware of. For example, the purpose of hierarchy that is present almost everywhere. If we were aware of this and felt the pain it causes us and others this purpose in spaces would have already been transformed, we would have already stopped seeing a "famous" person walk by us and treating them as superior to us. Design plays a fundamental role in all of this, because from it we recover the power to redesign the board of the game we play, not only from mentalization, but also from action, from the environment, from feelings, from relationships;

And what does design and holdspace have to do with all this so far? EVERYTHING! You will soon get it!

In the article Metadesign, Games and Cultural Transformation, Caio Vassão brings 4 roles that happen in different spaces of life and society, and that will be very useful for us to get to: what is a gameworld builder, what is the relation with design and why holdspace is a revolutionary skill and the world needs more of it. These roles are: "the player", "the arbitration, "the inventor" and "the gameworld builder".

The player is the one who experiences the game, the reality. Who play do this by learning, however quickly and superficially, the rules of the game. The player is part of this context as being part of it, and depending on the quality of this game, he may even forget that he is in a game and that he can change the game at any moment. It is like when you enter a movie theater and see yourself totally inside the movie, as if you were there.

The arbitration is the one who ensures that the rules of the game are respected and that the "illusion" of being in a game is not unraveled. In most contexts, the role of the abritation is distributed among the players - all players observe each other and ensure that the rules are respected. When you wear a different outfit to work, for example, and your boss warns you. He is not the one who created this "wear the uniform" rule, but he is still making sure that it is observed and that the "illusion" of a working game is not destroyed.

The third role is almost always forgotten because as almost all of us went to school, we think that we cannot play it, which is the inventor. We believe, even if in our unconscious, that it is a special role, that we are not good enough to create something and it is probably reserved for special people and/or in special social positions. The inventor is the one who designs the context, the game world as we call it in Possibility Managment (there will be a text about this soon as well), the rules and the limits of the game.

We are presented with three choices. Either I invent the context, or I judge if the things that are happening in it are according to the rules dictated by the inventor, or I just play and accept that those are the rules, and in the patriarchal society we live in, we are encouraged to basically be players.

In a "normal" company as we have today, thi frame would be: The guy (99% of the time white, straight) who creates the game world of the company, the rules, what it is going to be, how things happen, is the inventor. There are the "coordinators", managers who watch over and make sure that the players don't break the written rules. And finally, there are the players who know the rules, and sometimes not so well, and play this game, like pawns on a board.

And what is wrong with this structure? What is missing in it?

The problem is that it does not follow the larger design, the design of nature. And what is the design of nature? Transformation, change, evolution. Nature is transforming all the time. If you take 20 minutes out of your strict day to observe a bird, a tree, a river, you will surely see this. This structure that almost every space the human species has built and inhabits is designed for hierarchical, destructive, and genocidal purposes. This desig, this projects and builds the spaces today kills the nature that is in us, sucks our innate power, leaves the ground totally infertile for us to transform, evolve and create.

You can look, in schools, companies, supermarkets, parks, gyms, we have players, arbitration and inventors. And what other possibility do we have besides that? What other role is trying to be erased?

The role of the spaceholder!

The spaceholder acts as player, arbitration and (re)inventor of the game, of reality, of the game world. The spaceholder plays the game, he perceives how the game is unfolding. He also acts as an observer of the "rules" of that space and ensures that the coherence and cohesion of that game is maintained during the experience. However, when some of these already invented rules are not working for what is going on - something "goes wrong", the times are not enough, what is being proposed does not work - the spaceholder acts as an inventor, and changes or adjusts the rules and elements of the game so that the quality of the space is reestablished, so that the evolution happens, so that the transformation prospers.

Although it is a contemporary nomenclature, it is actually linked to a very ancient and profound role, which is commonly excluded from the activities of today's world, for an obvious reason: The people at the top of the hierarchy do not want the game to be reinvented, because then they would be out of power!

And what does the spaceholder do in practice? "The spaceholder is the one who leads the activity, observes the quality of interaction between people, relies on the "rules" (proposed by him or herself, or proposed by other people). And, if he perceives that the interaction is not going as well as it could, the facilitator interferes in the ongoing situation - even in the "rules of the game" - so that the interaction happens with the maximum quality." (Caio Vassão)

(Image taken from Caio Vassão's article)

The spaceholder has a "cosmological" experience of life, he experiences the game in the "hot", while he is "running", "in the moment", he is the metadesign of life (Caio Vassão). He is the guardian of the purpose of that context, experience, reality. He doesn't see things from the outside, removed as an inventor, he on the contrary, invents new rules with the game in progress, without having to "pause" it, he observes the consequences of his intervention right away, in the present moment. The spaceholder makes changes from within the experience, and for this very reason has direct consequences for the progress in that reality. He understands his creative possibilities for intervening in the "heat of the moment," he is committed to the purpose of the space. He takes radical responsibility for being a guardian of the purpose and sustaining it.

Yeah, okay! Nice speech, but how to do this? How do you stop being players, arbitration, and inventors and start being spaceholders? To become spaceholders you need to become conscious human beings, an adult. You need to develop a series of skills in which most of us are incompetent, because we didn't learn them in school or university. Some of these skills are: presence, centering, division of attention, connecting with feelings, creating energetic space, clarity, sniffer propose of spaces, clarity of purpose...

So when I say spaceholder, I'm not just talking about people who "facilitate" meetings (and most of the times they don't really facilitate, they act more like arbitration/teachers), but I'm talking about human beings aware of their purpose and empowered of their own nature. We don't need spaceholders only in learning spaces (but also). We need spaceholders in homes, in villages, in schools, in hospitals, in universities, in the streets.

Possibility Management brings powerful tools so that these skills can be developed and you can succeed in creating spaces not only for others, but also in your life, in extraordinary and transformational ways. Hold spaces as a revolutionary and transformational act of reconnecting with our inner nature and redefining our life board.

Love and Adventure,


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