Light at the end of the tunnel

 “Is there a better online community right now?”  

Parlour provides important infrastructure, resources and events for professionals in the built environment. Over the past decade its become the accessible home of gender equity in architecture. During the pandemic Parlour flourished as an online community by connecting people with a programming slate of critical research and community yarns.

In more normal times Parlour hosts wonderful salons around the country where people mingle, talk and listen. But they’re an after-work CBD-venue kind of thing. The prompt for the online forum was a series of posts on Work/Home that kicked off in April 2020. As the lockdown ground on Parlour launched weekly conversation online about what we were all experiencing and how it was impacting our working lives.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel series connected the Parlour community in ways that just hadn’t happened before. The topics were timely. The vulnerability in questions was real. The participation was different.

Everyone was there in the gallery of faces – people from all over Australia – inner cities and regional centres –  from universities, big firms, sole practitioners – at all career stages – students, graduates, practitioners, under-employed, retired. And  coming together in a format that supported good online behaviours – encouraging people to switch on their cameras and voicing their questions on the issues that rumble away in the chat.

Bravo to Justine Clark and Naomi Stead for hosting these Friday sessions. Their curiosity and warmth makes it look easy – and its the calm of the swan – there is a crew of extra hands off-camera monitoring the chat and steering the conversation.

I was fortunate to be part of two Light sessions. The first was a dive into the distributed workplace with Jean Graham from Winter Architects.  In 2021 – with the light actually glowing a code red – I joined Ilana Razbash on lessons learned during the lockdown.

The Soft Build is a strategy consultancy that helps people use buildings as a scaffold for organisational change.

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