Get to know a little bit about Wellbeing Architects

Welcome to our first newsletter. As this is our first newsletter, we thought it would be most appropriate to tell you the story of Wellbeing Architects. Wellbeing Architects is an accompanied learning initiative focused on reimagining thriving organisational cultures. This initiative is a collaboration between Shamillah Wilson and Ella Scheepers.

We (Shamillah and Ella) met at the most unlikely place, for people like us, at the Graduate School of Business, UCT. We knew going in, that it was an institution that had associations with colonialism, white privilege, capitalism, and so much more. The building itself was a former prison.

I (Shamillah), having worked in feminist movements and organisations, enrolled for an MPhil in Inclusive Innovation, hoping to explore some questions and dilemmas that had been plaguing me for a while.
I (Ella) had recently finished my MBA and continued to explore questions and frustrations I had experienced living and working in the social justice space.

We connected around our common passion and commitment to social justice. As Bertha Scholars, we tried to make sense of our presence at a Business School in Africa and our aspirations for a just world. As our relationship evolved, so too did our thinking about coming together with our unique experiences to pursue our dreams of bringing love, justice, and kindness into social justice organisations and movements.

Since 2016, we have sparked in each other visions of how we could give life to our dreams and in 2018, we were given the opportunity to work together to test our ideas. Through this collaboration, we were delighted by how we could bring together our
different energies, grow our friendship, and work on putting our ideas into practice. In 2020, we finally decided to formalise our collaboration and birthed what is now called Wellbeing Architects.

For us, Wellbeing Architects is a coming together, a space, a platform, and a journey! We want to bring together more people like ourselves: people who dream of social justice organisations that are accountable to their values; people who are willing to
cultivate and prioritise thriving organisational practices, processes, and structures; people who center the wellbeing of people at the heart of their ecosystems.

We see it as a platform where we can share what we are learning and experiencing because we are learning already that the theories and frameworks for this work are still emergent. Because we do this work as accompanied learning partners with
organisations who also want to share how this work is evolving for them. We also want to contribute to the broader space of feminist organisational development and change.

We see this work as a journey, because for us, it is about the process, and that in many ways is our ‘outcomes’. Though we have more than 20 years of collective experience in social justice activism, we feel this work is new and exploratory – and we are joining many others in asking how we can build thriving organisations in a capitalist, patriarchal world. Our sincere hope is to share the lessons of our journeys with you through our writing, analyses, tools, and stories.

Please see our very first primer ‘Promoting Wellbeing in a World of Deep Change’. This primer provides an overview of the politics that underpin the work we do. Our next primer on ‘Thriving Organisations’ will be released by the end of April 2021.
We look forward to engaging you as we continue our journey!

Love and justice,
Shamillah and Ella