Welcome to The Flourishing Commons
This is The Flourishing Commons, a newsletter about musings on flourishing across science, writing, design, complexity, engineering, music.
Welcome to The Flourishing Commons, a newsletter from Ryan McGranaghan. I'm a space physicist, aerospace engineer, data scientist, complexity thinker, designer, podcast host. Observer of beauty in liminal spaces. I believe in being led around by your curiosity.
Subscribe here to join the network of people and communities thinking about healthier and more meaningful connection; for interactions that span art, science, design, and engineering; and for enjoyable and nuanced exchange of ideas.
We all have much richer webs of activities and thoughts than any one of us can know. There is a depression that comes with not feeling known or seen or heard. This is a space for me to share more of myself, for me to explore my thoughts more expansively, and, in sharing, to draw out this depth from each of you. So this will be a hub for things that I do, but also a way to constellate my hub with yours. The goal is a more healthy relationality, so this is a commons, a shared resource, a gathering place for ideas, people, communities.
An entirely inadequate selection of things that I do, and that you can expect here, are:
Explore and lead NASA, National Science Foundation, public and private projects about the space environment, our space systems, and the cross-Earth-space system
Conduct antidisciplinary (not against disciplines, but requiring us to go to the liminal spaces between them) and convergent research that requires the intersection of scientific disciplines, data science, art, engineering, and design
The Origins Podcast--we will be more spacious here with the ideas that emerge from those conversations
The Flourishing Salons--these posts and the network of thinkers that they connect will come to life in a series of gatherings that began in 2020 to be a forum where all participants (scientists, artists, engineers, designers, philosophers) can place their work in a broader intellectual and philosophical context for the sake of a flourishing society. The Salons are modeled after the French salons of 17th and 18th centuries that were cultural hubs and actuators of intellectual development. They are now partnered with the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences (CPNAS) as 'Wonder Workshops.' Here's a taste of what these salons are.
Share music, books, podcasts
Why this newsletter and why now?
It's the first quarter of 2022 and alongside an ongoing pandemic, I'm starting this for the chance to create a network of thinkers who challenge and inspire each other, to spark strong smaller-scale communities in the void of richer connection we've experienced during the pandemic and, moving forward, in the digital age.
Because of the nuance that is lost in social media. Because of the connection that is not created there and my growing awareness of the lack of real connection on the platforms most available to us. This is a response to the enormous void that can exist between human beings and its widening at the hands of an ailing social media space. In a way it is coming from a place of a very real sense of sonder -- realizing that everyone around you has an internal life as rich and conflicted and as vivid as yours -- and all of the implications that come with it. What does it mean to acknowledge that impossible and inextricable complexity swirling all around us?
We're all navigating how to more meaningfully connect to one another and how to make sense of things together. This newsletter is going to be a sort of collective scratch space for the exploration of knowledge commons, making sense in community, becoming comfortable with nuance and ambiguity, applied epistemology (e.g., having good systems for figuring out what your beliefs are in an overwhelming flow of information that is today's world; healthy epistemics as a key to personal and societal flourishing), and flourishing (and simply a place to share beautiful, revitalizing resources and thoughts). Together we will explore and build the curriculum of the future, the knowledge and capacities we all need in the 21st century, a curriculum of connection and pluralism. Let's let this space experiment with a brighter future of digital connection, one that allows us to glimpse more of the complexity of each other, that wellspring of relationship.
The writing and the living conversation will be led around by an insatiable curiosity, by a spirit of intellectual friendship, by open discourse, by the boundless energy that comes from co-creating, by the need for healthy relationality.
We will together be fomenting here a gathering place of ideas that didn't fit neatly anywhere else.
I'm building The Flourishing Commons because I believe in writing and want to do more of it in public. Marilynne Robinson said, "The mind lives a larger life than we are aware of and it remains hidden from us unless we have a specific reason to draw on the details." This is going to be my specific reason, and I want to enrich it with real interactions (with you). Because I believe in thinking in networks and want to use different ways of knowing (e.g., scientific and spiritual) to explore community creation and healthy relationality. In that way this is about opening everyone to their own brilliance, whatever that may be.
Let's connect our thinking. Connect by linking where we write in public. Connect by enriching our thoughts in Flourishing Salons that emerge from from them. Subscribe here to learn when those gatherings will happen.
So, please consider these posts as invitations to living conversations, boundary navigating objects for meaningful connection. Be comfortable with their ever unfinishedness, and perhaps start to witness and become more comfortable with that unfinishedness, that ongoingness, in all of our lives.
I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world. I may not complete this last one but I give myself to it -Rainer Maria Rilke