how many

How many people are in the (a) lab?

ok. so we get asked this a lot.

legit question. difficult to answer.

taking a stab in two ways..

too small graphic


1\ lab becomes a mindset

when the lab started (2009-10ish), as the tsd innovation lab, people often asked how we would see success. our take was that success would be when there was no lab. meaning, no one space that people thought they had to come/go to. success would be when the lab was more a mindset. [ie: people believing that it is legal to think for themselves, every day. legal to experiment, every day. people living in perpetual beta, 24/7, anywhere.]

the word innovation started to blur into the word learning… as in – connecting things that hadn’t been connected before. the idea of a tsd innovation lab – started to blur into the idea of a lab – which started to blur into life. (which was kind of the point.)

so perhaps success is when we realize numbers blur and/or don’t make much sense when your goal is to get people grokking what matters.

but if right now – you need/want numbers, perhaps the best we can offer is this:

pre year 0 – the situation (people are stressed) – 200ish youth local, 200ish youth global

year 0 – the pilot (self-directed math) – 30ish high school aged youth

year 1 – the tsd innovation lab – (kids write own curriculum)- 50ish k-12 aged youth

year 2 – the be you house – (don’t declare/request credential till end of year) -50ish youth – ages 2 to 80

year 3 – city as school – (more prototyping w/app and spaces) – 50ish – starting to blur – see #2 below for a possible reason why

year 4 – still. be\cause not enough people can dance. you could say we got down to 50 or 5 or 1. working on that mechanism to unleash everyone.

year ? – a people experiment – (as many who might want to play in a city/park) – prospect is about 1000, our city is about 70,000, refugee camps avg 11,000+, humanity is about 7 billion. [perhaps ongoing ness comes from just a few ish people 100% focused on the systemic/placebo/turtle piece of this experiment – with all the other people focused on their something else. trusting that dance.]


2\ waiting on synchronicity

if you look at each of the year’s linked above, or this summary below, our findings point to a synchronicity that perhaps is vital (or at least a potential means) to sustainability, and scaling across-ness. to equity.

so with these findings in hand/mind/heart/site, perhaps many are no longer physically experimenting in the lab. (perhaps there is no need. perhaps we know enough to proceed. and if indeed the sync is key to sustainability.. perhaps it’s best to **hold up energy until we get the sync.)

perhaps just a few are now seeking a means to play (to set more people free to play).

some of the key findings that are leading (have led) to this thinking, (that perhaps we now wait. we listen more as we seek/wait on the sync):

pre year 0 – the situation: we wondered why everyone was so stressed when so many people seemed so good, and so many cool things were happening. we started to believe that compulsion (of how we learn things) had a lot to do with it. we wondered if self-directing that learning might free us up a bit. we asked permission to self-direct a pre-ap algebra 2 class.

year 0 – the pilot: we found that not enough kids were passionate about school math to self-direct it. we started to believe that compulsion (of what we were learning) had a lot to do with it. we asked permission for kids to write their own curriculum. [some examples: musical composition, human trafficking, homlessness, hebrew, game design, storm chasing, soccer, bike design, sign language, dog training, ..]

year 1 – the tsd innovation lab: we found that writing your own curriculum for 9 months, even though it sounds fabulous, compromises the sustainability you get from feeling free enough to change your mind everyday. we started to believe that compulsion (of why we were learning) had a lot to do with it. so we asked permission for kids to just say, i want to be in the lab, and then at the end of the year, they could declare what for/if they wanted credit.

year 2 – the be you house: we found that if people were in spaces of permission where they had nothing to prove, with enough time to detox, and enough trust to change their mind everyday, that we started really seeing them. all the stories of them. we started to believe that this focus/obsession with proving things/ourselves (rather than accepting who we already are) had a lot to do with it. once we started to really see people, and people started really seeing/being themselves, they craved co-creation, they craved finding their people. so – what we found as a roadblock – there weren’t enough people free to play. we started to work more on how to free up more people.

year 3 – city as school: we iterated/prototyped ways to use spaces that we already have – in the city – (coffee shop, library, robotics business, shared work space), with tech as a means to facilitate curiosities/connections/chaos. iterations of an app that would reduce the time between intention and action, between finding the thing you can’t not do and finding your people, because we knew if we had more people playing, without this tech/app, chaos would stop us in our tracks. we prototyped the app idea in a coffee shop, with this site, with non-functional wearables… and we started to believe that it wasn’t that it wasn’t possible/doable, it was just that, perhaps, synchronicity (authentic energy, temporary dance, and eclectic ecosystem) had a lot to do with it. and perhaps that sync has not yet been experimented with.

year 4 – still: be\cause not enough people can dance. perhaps we got to the edge of seeing/hearing enough to no longer stress/burden people who were experimenting (with the beautiful world our hearts know is possible) with ongoing experimenting. now just working on that mechanism to unleash everyone.

and now – we’re working/betting/connecting… on/for that experiment.

so – how many people are in a lab today?

we could say,

..there is at least one, who has resigned from everything else, because they’ve seen too much to not. who believes this is both, too doable and too urgent.  (imagining a turtle-ness equity) who’s spending their days making more connections and documenting more of what’s been seen/learned in the lab over the last 5 years.

..there are at least five, who connect regularly to share/hear/focus/update their energy on garnering the synchronicity of this people experiment. who have been resigned to be themselves for a while now, but are also committed to this specific vision for 100% of humanity.

..there are at least 50, who are daily feeding/connecting us closer to playing this out.

..there are at least 100, who are ready to play, even without the means, if we just had more people.

..there are at least 1000, who are ready to play, once we’ve got the means to free them and/or others up, financially.

..there are at least 7 billion, who’s souls are ready to play, if only their minds believed it was legal… ie: they wouldn’t be penalized. [perhaps a people experiment played out in even just one city could convince enough people to unleash themselves. this would no doubt, create the tipping point, the point of inflection, open up the flood gates…

none of us are free




so perhaps .. a lab as a mindset… has manifold people in it. already. now. today.

that are just waiting for someone(s) .. to bet on the sync.

a quiet revolution.



**on holding up energy till we get to the sync.

perhaps it’s not that people no longer believe in this narrative for 100% of humanity, perhaps it’s just that it’s difficult to try to maintain both worlds – just in case. and if we’re going to be worried about getting in places, since many institutional organizations by nature are slow to change, best just store up for that for now. perhaps.

perhaps a bad analogy – but all i can think of just now – it’s kind of like a kid getting clever about having a party. he knows he if he announced it.. he’d have tons of guests. he knows his friends, he listens to them, he’s designed it for them, he knows they would/will love it. but he also knows that if he creates a chaotic mess, that’ll be the end of it. he’ll affirm the fears of his parents, and the result will be tighter reins. [we actually already see this in ed.. no? afraid of losing control.. so we clamp down on accountability/measuring/et al]

perhaps synchronicity matters incredibly much to scaling across and sustainability. especially when some quiet revolution (long tail) is at a point of inflection.

without the tech in place to facilitate the chaos/whimsy of each person (to listen/connect/leave a trail), to reduce the time between intention and action, the resulting pandaemonium seemingly reaffirms assumptions of people being bad/evil/lazy.

without more people free to play, brilliant individuals find their art (the thing they can’t not do) but then hit a roadblock as they crave co-creation. and/or when tomorrow they find the bravery to change their mind. finding your people – every day – is huge. so more people playing – is critical to the dance.

without spaces/resources free to morph – perpetually in beta – it’s almost like they aren’t there. [or perhaps even worse – because we feel a false sense of richness with them there.] perhaps we don’t need more resources, we just need to be more resourceful, particularly in regard to these things being useful, tools of conviviality, versus just having them.

[kind of like jumping in after a drowning person with no backup.]


this whole issue makes me think of Jason Fried. esp his determination to not go (talk about) places he has decided are not healthy… like talking about how many people work on fridays.

perhaps our obsession with numbers is limiting us. our increasing need to count things is perhaps – a less healthy focus on being human and fully alive. it seems to at least – often be distracting us – from things that matter. perhaps if it matters – it’s too big to know. perhaps everything is miscellaneous.. at the same time – too big and too small – and just right.


how large is a city street neighborhood that functions capably? if we look as successful street-neighborhood networks in real life, we find this is a meaningless question, because wherever they work best, street neighborhoods have no beginnings and ends setting them apart as distinct units.   – Jane Jacobs





[originally from – how do i join a lab page]

How do I join a lab?

[and what does that mean..]

interconnectedness with color

a lab (original/update write-up) is a mindset… rather than a space.

It’s not so much about joining something, or going somewhere, as it is about a lifestyle. A lifestyle of self-directedness. Not simply self-directed learning of a given topic, but one of following/trusting one’s own whimsy/learning. The idea behind a lab, is that people will start believing that it is legal to think for themselves, and that in that realm, perhaps school as we now know it – is not enough.

We don’t see this as an either or. We’re not trying to get rid of anything. We just believe people should get to choose. We believe the compulsion of assumed/standardized basics is keeping us from us. We believe each person needs to seriously consider/reconsider what success means to them, and how our obsession with getting in places often drives that.

So perhaps we‘re all in a lab, to whatever degree we feel free enough to make our own choices, tooccupy our own brains, every day.

once an individual is free and finding/doing their art, they end up craving other people, their people, to do their art with. Right now, there aren’t enough people locally that feel freedom, as the day. So, we’re currently focused on seeking no-strings-attached funds to set an entire city free. We think synchronicity is huge to being able to jumpstart a new/old mindset. And that if we can model this in just one city, perhaps people will start to believe it’s doable. Once enough people believe they are free to choose, future funding for public ed could be funneled/reallocated to communities per census, and used via community voice/choice. Perhaps then, we’ll find, we have all any of us needs, people and resources.

People finding their people daily. We hope to be there soon. Once pluralistic ignorance sets in – wakes up.