If Lost, Start Here
Launched Spring 2019
If Lost, Start Here x
Have you ever been lost? Totally stuck? Grasping for something? So much so that you’ve sat in front of your computer, not knowing what to type into Google, not knowing where to look, so you’ve simply typed ‘help’. You had no idea how to square that work situation that was escalating, you didn’t know how to get beyond the heartbreak of losing someone you love, you didn’t have a clue how to get your aging parents to listen to any of your well-thought out advice, your boss was driving you crazy, your kids equally so, and you were knackered beyond compare. So, you just typed ‘help’. And really what you were doing was looking for the answer to a really simple question: ‘What can I do?’ But the answer still didn’t come.
If Lost Start Here attempts to answer that question by exploring each week exactly what you can do. We’ll cover a café that deals with anxiety, a museum that can teach us about empathy, a group of blokes hanging out in their sheds. We’ll get to an organization that offers mental health walks, another that focuses on getting out of our heads and into nature. We’ll feature a festival that encourages creativity, a community allotment project that takes on aging, and a collaborative art project that invites participants to make connections, material and otherwise.
This platform will focus on what we believe is an emerging new sector that’s all about how to be a person in the world. This includes initiatives that range from inspired classes and smart idea sessions, to hands-on practice studios and maker sessions. Initiatives that have arisen across different sectors, away from just wellness to the domains of culture, science, and the humanities. Initiatives that are people-centered, have a deep appreciation of experience and design, are open and accessible to all, and are often playful. Initiatives that represent something that people can return back to, again and again, and offer a longer-term relationship to making something work better (so not the quick-fixes).
So, what exactly are we looking for?
Sometimes its a feeling. A thank-god-this-exists-in-the-world lifting of our spirits. We know it when we see it. We get that instant hit of wanting to know more, to experience it ourselves, to get there if we can. The best thing is to take a look at some of our entries and see if you can catch that vibe.
But that sounds kinds of woolly and you probably want a little more direction, so we’ll go with this. What we’re looking for needs to touch on some of the following things (though we may break our own rules sometimes if we think a place has something particularly relevant to say to how we experience modern life):
Physical Location: We’re interested in places that you can actually go to or something you can do in a space with other people. We’re all about getting people together, about creating places to contain the different aspects of ourselves and our lives, and about making the world more people-y. So that’s a storefront, or a garden, or a museum, an actual physical space. There are great things happening on the internet (like this), but we don’t search for those things here. Maybe that can be a companion piece later.
Mental Wellbeing: There’s a mental wellbeing component built in there somewhere, even if its adjacent to what you think a place does. Like a coffee shop that also supports its local community and social justice projects. Or a stationary store, that prizes human communication alongside their cute designs. Maybe an arts space that thinks that supporting who we are as people is as important as what we produce. There’s something woven into a space’s mission, maybe sometimes covertly, that helps us be people in our worlds.
Design Matters: There’s some nod to great design principles. Because we trip into wellbeing territory doesn’t mean it has to use bad imagery (butterflies and blue, head in the hands portraits). We look for initiatives that think about their audience in ways that are engaging, immediate, even playful.
New Thinking: We’re always searching for the innovative, which is something bounced around a lot but not so much in the therapeutic space. Are there approaches that speak in new ways to our current needs? If there are, we’re interested in what these places say about what we’re looking for as people today - more untethering, less tech, more nature, less busyness. Something in direction.
Accessible and Inclusive: Our picks have to be democratic and open to all. There’s so much in the wellness space that can be unattainable, maybe even elitist. Expensive retreats, exclusive seminars, consumerist off-sites. We’re not about experiences as trophies but about finding the things that we all can do, because we all in some way need it. We’re in this together, still, aren’t we?
Public: With that in mind, we’ve tried to avoid the corporate/wellness world. Yes, your employer might have found a great program for you but if its a benefit that only you and your coworkers have experienced, with no reach beyond that, then it needs to stay there. We’re happy though that you had a great experience; we’re not trying to knock that.
Independent: We’re all about supporting Independent initiatives, things started by individuals to make our world a better place. We privilege the mom-and-pop over the chain, so though you may love WeWork for Co-working or a BlueBottle for Coffee, we probably won’t get to that here.
Realistic: We work to identify places that have the potential for transformative change or acceptance for what is. What does that actually mean? We’re searching for places that have a realistic platform for engagement. No crazy promises, no suggestion of needs that can’t be met, no banner headings that are about scale and sales only.
Global: We’re starting with where we know, the UK and the US, because this is where we find ourselves quite literally, but we’d love to hear about places globally. With If Lost Start Here we want to create a map of the world as we are shaping it for ourselves, in real space and time.
Read all the above and still have a place to pitch, head to the If Lost Start Here contributors page and let us know what you are thinking. If we like it, we’ll list it!