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A new online program that encourages authentic social connection and converts group conversations into social action.

Photo of Jared Silverman
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Human connection and community are critical for mental health, emotional well-being, and healthy human existence to thrive. In fact, recent studies in neuroscience show that our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water. Humans, as well as other mammals, are shaped by social environments and suffer greatly when social bonds are severed.  


At the same time, we find ourselves in an era where loneliness is at an all-time high and our ability to authentically connect with each other has been in decline. The recent lockdowns, curfews, and quarantines resulting from COVID-19 are only accelerating these pre-existing trends.  Social isolation seems to be working as a mechanism toward reducing the rate of infection, but from a mental health perspective, social isolation presents an increased risk for a variety of mental and emotional disorders, including premature mortality.   The loss of jobs and loved ones deepen these risks.  In the face of this reality, it is critical that we provide our communities with the resources and inspiration needed to maintain a deep sense of social connection. 


This is why my organization, HATCH has been piloting a new program that encourages authentic social connection and enables hundreds of people currently living in quarantine to combat the mental health risks involved with social isolation. However, we don’t stop there -- we also inspire and steward innovative solutions to social problems -- that’s been HATCH’s mission for over 15 years.  


At the outset of the pandemic, HATCH (founded in 2004), launched the Global Living Room (GLR), an online gathering offering support, wisdom, and expertise with hundreds of thought leaders from around the world. Each week a diverse collective meets online to discuss personal and societal challenges. Each live session includes a medley of insights from astronauts, scientists, psychologists, doctors, artists, poets, designers, students, and other leaders in a time of collective sense-making (See HATCH fellows here). In addition to social connectivity, GLRs offers interactive break out sessions on relevant topics including ingenuity, mental health, regenerative farming, business, climate, and art.  We accomplish through web-based software as well an app called H360 that we are developing.

Most importantly, what started as an opportunity for social connection has manifested into a weekly experience that converts group conversations into social action. There are already proven outcomes.

The most recent example being the HATCH Mask Force Initiative.  At the first Global Living Room, HATCHer John Taylor let the group know about thousands of surgical masks available in Shenzhen, China.  Immediately, a HATCH Mask Force formed and within 8 days thousands of surgical masks and face shields went from China to doctors in New York City. The self-directed team consisting of an engineer, a multimedia artist, a creative play strategist, and a blockbuster movie director are now piloting an ongoing process for donor-to-hospital delivery for underserved hospitals across America.


Other initiatives stemming from the first three Global Living Rooms include Kimberly-Clark and 3M joining forces to manufacture masks, a distiller re-appropriating a spirits company to create hand sanitizer, a visual artist creating a campaign around the diverse heroes of COVID-19, and, a new initiative focused on knowledge sharing between the seven generations alive today. These are just a few examples. Our goal is to not only socially connect but to inspire social action and collaboration, which is what we’ll need to rebuild a better world.  


We are ready to scale our program to include Local Living Rooms in HATCH Chapter cities. Having lost a critical part of our funding from in-person events, the transition to an online forum is essential if we are to have a continued impact on local and global challenges. In a time of collective sense-making, working to understand inflection points, reframe challenges, and identify opportunities to create solutions is critical.

What is the need are you focusing on?

Our solution addresses multiple needs.  1) Need for social connection due to quarantine.  2) Need to mitigate mental/emotional health risks associated with social isolation.  3) Need to engage the most talented, creative, and diverse group of individuals across industry sectors to work together on solving local and global problems. 4) Mentor the Next Generation of leaders.

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Identifying a gap that needs to be addressed
  • Sharing an actual pivot your organization has already made

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

In response to COVID-19, HATCH has canceled many of our signature in-person programs this spring. Instead, we are pivoting and piloting new digital methodologies to achieve our mission including Global Living Rooms. For the past 17 years, HATCH has cultivated a diverse community of extraordinary people who are now unable to collaborate in-person. To fix that, we are piloting a new way for diverse people to effectively collaborate on solutions to global problems from home. We are also reaching outside of our alumni base to engage a wider audience. Participants develop personally and professionally through inspiring talks, group discussions, live performances, and design sprints. The idea is to convert these experiences into exciting new projects and collaborations that have a real impact on the world. There are already some proven outcomes (see attached), but we need to better design a mechanism that accelerates the conversion from conversations to collective action.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • Yes

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

If the Global Living Room program is accelerated, then we will see new social impact projects spawn and actualize. We will also see hundreds of business innovators, academics, inventors, educators, social impact entrepreneurs, philanthropists, musicians, technologists, and cultural catalysts across a wide range of disciplines connected to a supportive community focused on solving critical global problems. This program will also decrease the likelihood of loneliness and social isolation for thousands of people. In addition, we are working on pivoting our NextGen program to virtually connect high school youth with mentors from the HATCH community during this critical time. We can impact the next generation of leaders by providing them with opportunities to participate in the rebuilding of our future.

What is the name of your business or organization?


What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

HATCH is a global collective of thought-leaders from a broad array of disciplines focused on solving small and large-scale challenges. Our organization connects and enlivens some of the world’s most innovative leaders across a wide range of disciplines and exposes them to a supportive community focused on solving critical global problems. Typically we do this through an ecosystem of two annual summits, for-hire design labs, and year-round community engagements. We serve social and environmental impact leaders and also small businesses, corporations, and NGOs through our various programs. We also focus on the next generation of leaders through our NextGen program.

What is your profession?

Director of Development for HATCH, a researcher for the Gwydion Fund, and an adjunct instructor at Prescott College.

Where are you located (country)?

United States

Where are you located (region)?

  • North America

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Activist/Community Leader/Organizer
  • Arts/Entertainment
  • Non-Profit/Philanthropy

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 0-10

How old is your business/company?

  • 10 or more years old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Nonprofit/NGO

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Grants
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- NGOs
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Civil Society Groups
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Grassroots/Community Groups

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • Yes

If Yes to the above, please share 1-2 sentences describing the specific help you desire.

Our biggest gap is in designing the mechanism(s) that best convert curated conversations into social action--how might we best channel the energy from Global Living Rooms into implementable solutions? We could also benefit from introductions to a wider audience and to potential thought-partners and funders.

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

Our biggest barriers are 1) Funding - having lost a critical part of our funding from in-person events, the transition to an online forum is essential if we are to have a continued impact on local and global challenges. 2) Capacity - we have a 3 person staff and could use the funding to hire another person and/or volunteers to help us design and facilitate our vision.

If you are currently working on a pivot, what have you learned so far?

Our team is learning so much. We are always dialing in our programming and fine-tuning the flow. We are also noticing that people are looking for sense-making, community, and opportunities to engage in meaningful projects. We are getting much better at online facilitation, and prototyping design sprint shoot-offs with small groups. We are also learning that lots of activated people in the world don't even realize how much they need to connect with a global community until they actually do.

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?

Not at the moment, but we would love ideas. We are aware of some grant opportunities, which tend to be more of a long-game approach.

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Isaac Jumba

This is an amazing share Jared Silverman . Do you see this new pivot becoming a core offering of Hatch post-covid? what other needs are you looking to address moving forward?

Photo of Jared Silverman

Thanks, Isaac. Yes, the Global Living Rooms are now a core offering of HATCH, and will remain so post-COVID. We are addressing the problems with professional silos and industry bubbles. We take innovators out of their everyday environments and introduce them to a diverse community of other innovators to collaborate with. We also facilitate collaborations. I think that moving forward, the world is going to continue to deal with issues of social isolation and professional silos.