feb. 4 — an open letter to kening

Dear Kening, I've been meaning to write to you for a while! I'm always delighted to receive your letters and read your new posts. More than a year has passed since we last met, and I thought I'd let you know how things have been progressing in my web design practice. You might remember Rachel, whom I introduced to you over call. We still draw a lot on your philosophy, from rituals to webhomes to worlding, in our work at Studio Bisita.

🛖 Life updates at Bisita 

Before the new year, I wrote a review of the projects Rachel and I worked on in 2023, and what we learned. In a few words, I'm floored by the collaborators we've managed to attract. In our last email exchange, I told you that we were working with our first client, a nonprofit helping reforest indigenous lands. Since then, they've referred us to other organizations that share our vision of using technology to drive tangible change on ground, from a famed children's museum to an NGO shaping a sustainable island community. As a freelancer, it can be difficult to trust that there will be a continuous flow of aligned projects, but I'm learning to sit with the natural pace of our business' growth, and the seasons where opportunities will inevitably ebb and flow. This is already a wonderful start—and I have you to thank for introducing me to the metaphor of webhomes and the process of building one.

🏝 A site archipelago 

On the topic of watery web metaphors, let me share with you a side quest that I'm pursuing alongside our client projects. I traveled to several islands across the country last year, and reflecting on my work so far, I'm drawn to the image of an archipelago—how, while the organizations Rachel and I work with seem like separate entities, we are all connected by a bedrock of shared values, shared visions for a new and more livable Philippines. Our web studio is named after bisita, the Filipino word for 'visitor', so this project I'm working on is called kapitbahay, which means 'neighbor'. I've basically been keeping track of all the people in our network and compiling their websites into an open-source directory. A site archipelago, if you will. 

My vision is that anyone can visit it to see Filipinos who are actively doing the work of either (1) imagining preferable futures or (2) shaping them on ground. Then, they can take action by supporting their causes or contributing other organizations to the list. I was inspired by this other directory of Black-owned businesses called Creative Ecosystems.

At the end of the day, I believe web design is a practice of worlding, just as you do. Bisita and Kapitbahay are my way of making space for what I want to see both online and in the real world: radical hope; harmony within ourselves, our communities, and with nature.

📚 On reading

I don't have an answer about the best way to ritualize reading, because I find that putting too much structure takes the fun out of it. For me, part of what makes reading restful is allowing myself to be drawn to whatever excites me in that moment, and taking as much time as I need to deeply explore that topic or even build on what I consume, through writing. I was in a similar mental space as you in January, knee-deep in work and pondering big questions surrounding it. Rachel recommended a short novel called A Psalm for the Wild-Built, which explores themes like human-machine connection and environmental knowledge. (You might want to read it; I've never been particularly into sci-fi but I thoroughly enjoyed this and its sequel.) It led me down this rabbit hole on emotionally intelligent AI, and I ended up writing an entire paper on AI therapists and their implications for the future of mental healthcare.

Anyway, I hope I'm able to keep up this balance of creating and consuming for the rest of the year. But I expect it to get slightly harder when the new semester starts and I'll be forced to keep up with a stream of readings. . . . Thanks for reading this far into my little catch-up letter. Sending you some digital postcards from Coron, a beloved island-hopping destination here in the Philippines.

I hope that this new month treats you kindly, and that you move through it with grace. So grateful to have stumbled into your online world ♡

With care,


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