WE'RE MAGENTA STUDIOS
THE SCHOOL FOR THE SOCIAL FUTURE
We're pleased to meet you!
Allow us to introduce ourselves: we are Jeff and Louisa Barnum, husband and wife team. Together we co-founded Magenta Studios.
We've experienced for ourselves the struggle to make it real. Apart from the challenges of raising kids plus co-creating a healthy 20 year marriage and a company together, we have been supporting projects around the world working to change things for the better.
We saw a great deal of well intentioned and well resourced leaders and their teams working on big ambitious social change projects only to fail when they didn't have what they needed most: tools, training, and proper preparation for the immense and heroic work they had set out to do.
That's like taking a toothpick to a fight with a dragon. Or competing in the world cup without knowing the rules of the game.
We cracked the code out of necessity
We didn't actually plan to do international social change work. We began our career paths thinking we were going to be artists. Jeff a painter and sculptor, and Louisa a violinist and singer. And we have the degrees to prove we were pretty serious back in the day. But life threw some curveballs which lead to a life-long interest in consciousness studies and the work of Goethe's phenomenology, applied to the inner life and social change. This might sound boring, but actually we find it endlessly fascinating. It's how we found the keys to unlock a particularly nutty problem: why do social change efforts so easily fail, and are so greatly outpaced by the problems we're facing?
We cracked the code by doing the opposite of what you'd expect. We did this while working on projects around the world for the past 20 years, and coaching leaders who were struggling with personal limitations.
We simply had to come up with different approaches if we wanted to help. Instead of looking out in the world for the answers, we looked within. And found them there.
We still make art, by the way.
We've worked on some pretty ambitous projects
Here are some highlights:
We co-founded Reos Partners, a pioneering social change consultancy that helped grow and define the work of systems change and multi-stakeholder collaboration. We pioneered this work with some of the best practitioners in the field, with whom we continue to collaborate today.
We've helped leaders across the child protection system in the state of Victoria, Australia. Our multi-stakeholder effort was entirely unprecedented and sparked significant change efforts within and across the sector.
We’ve been supporting a handful of Canadian leaders in the disabilities space since 2013.
We convened and facilitated a workshop about the future of the Youth and Justice system across the USA.
We've trained teams in the Social Lab methodology with online training courses and in person workshops. A highlight was a training we did for a team working in the south side of Chicago.
We worked on a Presidential level think tank for collective prosperity in Colombia.
We designed and facilitated an innovation accelerator with Reos Partners Europe and other partners in Geneva to help peacebuilders with their work in key conflict areas around the world.
We trained and supported a team running a yearlong transformative scenario project about the future of democracy in South America.
We worked with a multi-organization team in Zimbabwe for a year, providing mentorship and creative methodology training to their efforts.
Here's a map so you can see where we've worked, and the topics we've covered
We've been supporting leaders like you since 1996
We worked around the world for many years on all kinds of projects in all kinds of issue areas, from peace to democracy, from climate to energy. This map shows some of our project locations and themes.
If you're wondering, it's a "dymaxion" map, designed to accurately represent the relative sizes of the continents.
What is the school for the social future?
and other FAQs
What is the School for the Social Future?
It is a project of Magenta Studios, where students can learn how to activate their creativity and apply it to the social challenges we all face and greatly increase their success and longevity of their projects. The School is part online, part in-person, part community, and part coaching and mentoring.
What's Magenta Studios?
Magenta Studios is the legal entity behind the School. We named ourselves Magenta because it's the color Newton left out of his famous spectrum — an omission that has confused color scientists ever since. Today's challenges can be effectively addressed only by the full spectrum of human superpowers — including those outside the dominant paradigms.
Is this an online course?
Part of the school is online. We know our students are crazy busy and that travel is increasingly difficult for many reasons. There's no substitute for in-person events, however, so we also get together in person. We're currently planning in-person events in both North America and Europe.
I'm not creative. How is this relevant to me?
We very respectfully disagree with you. Actually you ARE creative; you just haven't discovered and cultivated that part of you yet. In our experience, creativity comes with being human. If you don't believe us, then you should read our e-book The Creativist here — and do the exercise in it.
What do you mean by inner development?
Inner development is the heart and soul of everything we teach. Without this piece you can't be truly creative, and you simply won't be able to develop the diagnostic insight and creative "muscles" you need for social change work. And, frankly, this is what sets us apart from pretty much everyone else out there teaching about social change. There is lots of recognition it's important, but not much clarity about its fractal nature.
Is there a community?
Yes! We are very deliberately building a community to help our students practice what they learn — a social context, for example, in which to explore the communication, teamwork, and co-creation modules. It is also where you can find friends, collaborators, and accountability partners, and learn from others and their experiences. The community is an essential and thriving part of the School!
Is this a school with a campus and classrooms?
There's no campus, but we do get together in person for workshops, events, and visits. We continue the learning either formally, as in workshops and events, or more informally, around tea, in the art studio, or with a project, such as making a compost pile or stone wall. Otherwise, you can participate in our comprehensive online training program, our private community portal, and coaching and mentorship calls.
When did you start the School for the Social Future?
We actually began designing the school back in the 1990s, but worked as consultants and coaches for many years, field-testing everything around the world for two decades. We finally "formally" started the school in 2019.
What's your vision for the School?
From our business model to our curriculum to our events, everything in the school is a dialogue and a design process: it's co-creative. The School is a prototype of the kind of businesses and learning institutions that can meet the needs of the future. Our goal is to nurture a global and connected community of students, to do our most important work together, and to grow the School together in dialogue.
With your focus on inner development, are you therapists?
We are not therapists or medical practitioners of any kind. We draw from various schools of thought and ask questions about the nature of consciousness and creativity, always studying the phenomena and not restricted to any particular view of mental health. We do not diagnose, treat, or recommend anything — but we do provide a wealth of tools, protocols, and practices for you to use so you can build agency and empowerment on your healing and capability-building journey.
How do I participate? Can I help co-create it?
The school is being built around our students' needs, goals, projects, and input. While we are bringing a rigorous and tested curriculum based on our years of experience and expertise, we are listening very closely to our students and thereby the school is constantly improving. Your active participation in the community and your questions and needs will co-creatively grow the school.
What do you have in mind for the in-person part?
The coronavirus outbreak of early 2020 may force us to change our plans, but at the moment, we intend to hold a workshop in France and invite students on a caravan traveling through the Balkans, both this summer (of 2020). We're planning to hold in-person events in the USA and Europe, and as our student base grows, possibly elsewhere.
Watch our fun, pretty, and free video. Find out the single biggest mistake you'll likely make, and learn the two factors that increase any odds for success.
Still here? How about some fun facts
Jeff thinks his name is boring. He is thinking Jupiter might be better.
Louisa's childhood nickname was Lulu. She didn't know what her real name was until she was 8 years old.
Jeff thinks you should take up snowboarding.
We depend on our daily cups of tea for comfort and security.
We go through roughly 3 gallons of raw milk every week. From our own cows (herd share program).
We are drowning in Jeff's gorgeous paintings. They are stacked against the walls throughout our house because we haven't had time to find them loving homes.
Our idea of a vacation is finally having the time to catch up on obscure texts. In front of a fire. Thank goodness for kids who think that's boring and drag us on adventures instead.
New Zealand was a really great place to grow up. You are likely to be thinking at this very moment you should visit. That is a good idea.
The hot tub is a very productive meeting space.
We hired Magenta to help us more fully engage our workforce, leaders, and other stakeholders in our ongoing service to the greater Vancouver region. They helped us devise efficient, powerful ways of innovating, learning, and creating across our organization. We’re deploying them in all our work, big and small — with wonderful results.
Tanya Sather - Executive Co-Director, Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion
We partnered with Magenta to co-lead our development program for senior executives in one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies. The Magenta team played a highly significant role in curriculum development and overall leadership of the program. Both our client and we as Reos were enormously pleased with the quality of Magenta’s contribution to the project. Magenta understands both the big picture as well as the nuts and bolts for successful inner leadership development. Highly recommended.
Robbie Macpherson - Director at Adaptable Leadership & Partner at Reos Partners Australia
Magenta provided a sensitive, personal and supportive approach to enhancing our strengths while inspiring us to go beyond our expectations. Their accessible methods equipped us with tools for implementing beyond their program.
Shalini Agrawal - Director at Center for Art and Public Life at California College of the Arts
I worked with Magenta over a number of months both as part of a senior leadership group exploring our personal leadership and also with one on one coaching. My experience was transformative. I was challenged to think extremely differently about the world, myself, others and my business. On a personal level I resolved many issues that had been holding me back. I have used the tools that I was given with my team subsequently and have received similarly amazing feedback from them.
Julian Clarke - Executive Director, Human Resources, Global Enterprise & Services and International & New Business, Telstra
I was part of a team serving a complex scenario building process. We had excellent collective calls with Magenta and also individual coaching sessions. I found those individual sessions to be extremely useful, helping me to connect to my source, improve my communications and co-working practices, and align my attention with my intention. Every minute of each conversation was so full of meaning!