In increasingly fragmented environments leading to growing distrust of large-scale systems, how might designers work in the service of building a sense of collective “wholeness” without “totalizing” one perspective or worldview? This short paper draws from philosophical inquiry and participation with emerging relational practices of Collective Presencing and People Need People (PNP) Warm Data Labs, to explore how design can revitalize its optimistic commitment to designing the conditions of symbiotic systems of living wholeness while engaging the epistemic humility of approaching it with what feminist scholar Donna Haraway describes as “living with the trouble.”
The author proposes a transversal design approach, wherein the building tensions in and through a plurality of perspectives and relationships can creatively lead to transversal encounters of glimpsing “wholeness”: the creative moments where the “us” and “them” might become the emergent “we”. These glimpses of the “wholeness” — whether it is of the group, of the problem, of the system(s) – are what catalyze the collective emergence and alignment around shared vision and action.
Keywords: pluriverse, transversalism, wholeness, awareness-based systems change, warm data