On Daring to be Tender

Français – Nederlands

First: some facts. On March 22, 2016, two terrorist attacks – one at 7:58 in Zaventem Airport and the other at 9:11 in the Maelbeek metro station – hit the Belgian capital of Brussels. One year later, a few subdued commemoration events are held.

“It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to make our society more humane and more just. Let us learn to listen to each other again, to respect each other’s weaknesses, and to put them right. And above all, let us dare to be tender. On this day of awareness and recollection, our country owes you this commitment.”

These words are spoken by King Philippe of Belgium. The location is the Schuman Square in Brussels. It’s March 22, 2017, close to midday.

A year ago, life in this city was brought to a sudden halt. Now, on this beautiful, sunny day – as was last year’s – things are back in motion, if still struggling to adapt to a new reality. A morning filled with commemorations and speeches has just ended.

You could tell something was broken in the people on stage. The visible struggle to speak at all, the occasional sob escaping during a particularly heart-wrenching passage. How vulnerable they looked up there, alone facing the crowd.
And yet… A strength emanates from them. Each of them carrying a message in their own particular language. A few common themes: hope in the face of despair and senselessness; the miracle of a complete stranger choosing to save your life; calls for love and unity. Wholly absent: giving in to hate.

Go back a few hours.
It is 9:11.

The stop is Maelbeek. Final verdict here: 16 dead. The King and the rest of the official delegation made their trip from the earlier event at the airport to the station via metro. After observing the minute of silence, a few survivors speak to the small crowd gathered on the underground platform. Christelle is one of them.
As she starts speaking, a loud siren can be heard outside. Later, her words are accompanied by the whirring noise of a metro passing through the station. Sounds that make up everyday life in a city of over a million people, but will never quite sound the same to many of them.

Rewind some more.

We’re gathered in front of Zaventem airport. The final count ran to 16 here too. It’s an unsettling feeling, this… deadly quiet. As if we need constant noise to drown out our thoughts. As if we’re afraid that at any moment, a violent knock can come at the door we’re all hiding behind, coming to take us away against our will. The only noise is from photographers trying to get a good shot. Just doing their jobs, of course. The world keeps spinning.
A list of victims is read out after the minute of silence. The diversity in the names is remarkable; Death laughs at the lines we draw.

A few hours later, news starts coming in from London.

Not again… A thought that has crossed our collective minds too often recently. But yes, again.

As I write this, 20 million people are in danger of dying from starvation in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria. It has been called the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.
In Yemen, this is in part due to the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign – often using weapons supplied by Western countries. Like Belgium, for example. The same Belgium we’ve been talking about. Land of the waffles and chocolate and beer and fries. The Belgium whose government is currently matching every donation made to a fundraiser to combat this famine. This is the absurd world we live in.

Cry if you need to. Shout if you feel like it. Get mad if you’re fed up with all of it.
– But, more importantly:
Hug your nearest loved one. Combat injustice where you see it. Help out a person in need.
Dare to be tender.

And, of course, DFTBA.

Worth watching (video after article, in French with English subtitles): http://deredactie.be/permalink/1.2852344
This is from a few months ago and not directly related to the above. However, it is a beautiful message by a man whose wife was killed during the attacks. Additionally, he comes from Molenbeek – which was described on multiple occasions as the ‘Jihadi capital of Europe’ in the media – and he’s muslim.

Tuataria, Two Months In

A few months ago, John Green put a tuatara on his wall above a pile of boxes.

That tuatara started something we’re not sure even he could have anticipated.

In the last two months, we’ve had almost 2100 Nerdfighters join us to solve Cluesday puzzles, to write parody songs, to do koalas, and to launch a bunch of projects and pieces of original art and lots of emojis and endless inside jokes.

As a community, that kind of growth is both exhilarating and exhausting. And for all the awesome this community has produced, there has been a significant amount of difficulty along the way. Nothing grows without conflict or friction. No lasting change is created without turmoil and confusion.

Building a sustainable community where people feel loved and supported has been one of the most challenging things this admin team has ever done. All of us bring experience to the table, and for some of us, even community management experience. Many of us bring discord-specific knowledge and skills to the team, and some even bring extensive background knowledge of computer programming.

But no prior experience prepares you for the challenge of building Tuataria. This is not just a situation where we could make a static set of rules and enforce them. It’s also not a situation where we can be laissez-faire and hope that everyone will not forget to be awesome.

The challenge we’ve faced is this: there are currently 18 of us from around the world on the admin team. We speak a dozen languages and live in eight different countries and at least eleven different time-zones. We range from just starting college to being more than a decade into a professional career. And yet we work on a consensus model. Even in the beginning, before we had a million docs and a constitution, and meetings, we worked on consensus.

Sometimes, consensus has been hard to define. And it’s often been hard to reach. But when we started, we committed to making it work. And for the most part, we have.

There have been definite missteps along the way, and times when we failed to understand other people complexly. We have failed to be clear, or kind, or transparent at times. And every time we’ve failed, we’ve learned from it. That doesn’t guarantee that we didn’t make more mistakes, or prevent against future mistakes. Those are going to happen! But what will also happen is that we will learn from those mistakes and work together to figure out how to not make them again, and how to make amends to those affected by our mistakes.

Along the way, we’ve enlisted a diverse group of mods to help us. Many of them are younger than the admin team, and we have benefitted from their maturity, wisdom and input tremendously. Their passion and hard work has been such a blessing to this community and we’re really grateful for and to them.

We’ve also tried to balance the hard work of building a community with the fun parts. The last month has really been brutal for the administrators, but because much of that has happened behind the scenes, we know that most users are probably not aware of it. While we want feedback and we really care about input, we’ve definitely struggled to find a way to communicate clearly about that input, whether we implemented it or not.

And there will be times where we will have to enforce rules that people don’t like. That is true for almost any leader in any situation anywhere. Hell, there will be times that we enforce rules that WE don’t like, but that are for the benefit of the community. That is part of the responsibility of being a leader, and one that we take very seriously.

What we’re asking from you is simple, but it’s not easy: we’re asking for your trust. Trust that the 18 of us debate major policy changes and language extensively, and that no one voice is privileged over another.

Trust that we listen to your feedback and advice.

Trust that if we get it wrong, we’ll acknowledge it and try to make it right.

Trust that we love this community and so are devoting our time, our energy, our money, and our talents into making it the best we can.

Two months ago, John created us. He gave us a challenge and a reason to organise. But now WE – all of us together – are building this place, and the decisions we make will continue to shape the future of Tuataria and even Nerdfighteria. That challenge is something we are both humbled by and freaking excited about. We hope that in many years, we can all look back and remember the start of this great nation with fondness and say that whatever we sacrificed to make it happen, it was 100% worth it.

We can’t wait to see what comes next. Thank you for being part of this crazy experiment.

May Koana Lisa continue to bless and keep this great nation of Tuataria.

Signed, your trusty admins
Ali (alipeli), Allison, Andy (andythewestie), Becky, Cheryl (guster), Emily (ylime), Lily (charminglily), Cody, Erin, Jessie (jessieinez), Jonathan (Jonathan), Jonathan (BoedJ), Katie (Alaska), Katherine (pullingakatherine), Simon (rith), Rowan (sir ro), Sharon (skye), Tim