Take part in a global conversation to create an emergent vision for the post-pandemic future. 

Our world is at a tipping point. COVID-19 is the latest in a series of crises that reveal the shortcomings and deep inequities in our local and global systems. This moment of disruption opens up the possibility to rethink and rebuild a more sustainable and just world. But how? This project is an experiment in linking hands to share tools and navigate an uncertain future.

Why get involved?
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  • Make new connections and plug-in to a network of thinkers, change makers, and leaders.

  • Share thoughts and feelings about this moment of uncertainty and find out how others are dealing with the same.

  • Share inspiring examples of community organizing and mutual aid emerging right now. 

  • Contribute to a shared vision for a more collaborative, just and healing world. 

  • Find out about projects and initiatives that you can learn from and discover new collaboration opportunities.

  • Identify tools and resources needed to adapt your existing projects and ways of working / organizing.

We're using a systems approach inspired by the viral nature of COVID-19 to connect people in unexpected ways.
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This project began to counter the fear of COVID-19 by mirroring the viral nature of the disease and the way it spreads to set in motion a wave of self-organizing conversations about the post-pandemic future.

Think of it like a phone tree, a chain letter or an Instagram challenge— but instead of posting your before-and-after pandemic hair, you get to join a global conversation, meet new people and organize for change.

To kick-start this experiment, we set up a network of “seed callers” in cities across Canada and around the world. You can organize your own #EmergentConversation by 
following the instructions below.

How can we build on our local and global experiences of COVID-19 into collective actions towards a better world?
How it works
Start your own conversation
Step 1: Get the ball rolling

Invite someone you know to join you on a conference call. Pick someone interesting that you think would bring a unique perspective. 


If you want some guidance on how to start a conversation join an orientation session with us!  If you are ready to start a conversation, click the orange button below and we’ll send you an email with instructions that you can forward to your contacts.

Step 2: Pass it on!

Ask that person to invite someone else to the call. Have them pick someone you don’t know, someone who will bring a different perspective and point of view to the conversation.


To complete the loop, ask your third participant to pass on the invitation once more. The goal is to bring together a group of four people by handing off the invitation from person to person. 

Step 3: Ask big questions

The purpose of these calls is to check in and look forward. We want to hear about how the pandemic has impacted you and your community and how these experiences can be mobilized into collective actions for a better world.

We created a shared Google Doc with prompt questions to help generate discussion and capture your ideas.  

Want to contribute to the vision?

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Step 4: Share your ideas

Help us spread the word and grow this project by sharing a meaningful thought or idea from your conversation on social media using the hashtag #EmergentConversations

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
Step 5: Repeat

We're asking everyone who participates in a call to organize their own #EmergentConversation following the instructions above so that it grows exponentially. 


Suddenly one call with four people turns into four more calls reaching 16 people, then 16 calls reaching 64, then 64 calls reaching 256 and so on exponentially. 

Why this Project?

The #EmergentConversations project is an experiment in co-creating a vision and toolkit for the post-pandemic future inspired by the wisdom of self-organizing, natural systems.

It was started by Makeshift Commons to leverage the power of the internet and systems thinking to create a new form of public commons. We are inspired by the examples of community organizing, both on the ground and online, that have emerged in the midst of this crisis. We want to support these efforts and create a new way for people to connect and build social networks of solidarity.

That’s because we think what comes next will be just as critical as what’s happening right now. When the immediate crisis of responding to the pandemic has passed, the crisis of how to rebuild our world in a way that doesn’t reinforce broken systems and old ways of doing things will need to be addressed.  

Our hope is that the communities of solidarity that we are building today in the midst of this crisis can become the backbone of a network that counters these impulses with an alternative vision. But for this to happen, we need to broaden our networks and create new connections that go beyond our relatively small and inward looking circles.


Helpfully, the COVID-19 virus provides an example of how small things can spread widely and grow exponentially. What if these same principles could be used to set in motion decentralized, emergent and self-organizing conversations to catalyse social change? We think they can and have designed an experiment to show it's possible.

Who's behind this project?
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Aileen Ling (she/her) is an interdisciplinary designer with a background in architecture,  sustainable materials, and Commons governance.  As the

co-founder of Makeshift Commons she is passionate about fostering community-led sustainability initiatives.


Derek Simmers (he/him) is a designer and illustrator, interested in fostering meaningful relationships between people and where they live and share space. His work nurtures a culture of mutual support, collaboration, and learning.

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Matt Carreau (he/him) is a design thinker, creative facilitator, project coordinator and urban strategist. He works with communities and organizations to research, design, develop, and execute projects that promote collaborative and sustainable approaches to city building.

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Devika Narayani Prakash (she/her) is a design strategist and researcher with a background in social development and water resource management. She believes in collaborative design and focuses on projects that allow her to explore the intersection between urbanism, technology, and people.