The 30th Anniversary Virtual GA: Embracing Change

Cumulus President’s Message
Mariana Amatullo, PhD

We held the Cumulus General Assembly this past June 11. This GA was like no other in the  30th year history of our association: 200 plus of our members gathered for the first time virtually and came together to participate in a year-in-review of our association’s milestones and to ratify our plans for the year to come. I am grateful to our Executive Board as well as to our SG Eija Salmi and coordinator Anna Lindberg for their dedication in preparing for this GA and making it a flawless and dynamic experience for all. As chagrined as we all were to not be gathering face-to-face in the 2020 postponed Cumulus Roma Design Culture(s) (mark your calendars for June 2021!), the palpable sense of community that the event brought about–even with our mediated Zoom screens–was just thrilling. We were especially happy to welcome our 42 new member institutions, making the Cumulus family now 340 members strong; expanding the diversity of our institutions with a total of 61 countries now belonging to our network. I trust many of you visited the wonderful virtual New Members fair that was organized by the X Files Working Group to welcome them. One of my personal highlights as your President was to be able to present with my colleagues from the board our Strategic Plan: Cumulus at 30. I invite you to review the document if you haven’t already and get in touch with ideas to engage. Our board sub-committees are hard at work advancing the seven initiatives we outline in the plan. Projects underway range from steps to sharpen our board governance practices, new ideas to evolve our conferences and better support our Working Groups, a commitment to bring our student community front and center into our programming, and early plans for a new interactive website for 2021. Meanwhile, our Vice President Philipp Heidkamp and Board Treasurer Adam de Eyto are leading with the Secretariat and an amazing team the development of a robust virtual space to meet and exchange: the CumulusConnects new microsite.  I anticipate it will bring us together in new dynamic ways and l look forward to your participation.

While many parts of the world are slowly re-emerging from COVID lockdown, we must recognize that many members are still contending with very challenging public health conditions that continue to disrupt how we teach, research and learn in our universities. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in the United States, these are times as well where the pandemic is laying bare systemic inequalities and racial discrimination. As an educator based in the US and with a profound belief in the potency of international solidarity, it has been deeply moving for me to observe how the spotlight on racial injustice here in America is radiating into a reckoning that is going global. This gives me hope that perhaps much of the pain of these hard times might bring about a greater sense of urgency for us to seize the moment to forge deeper connections, establish more meaningful cooperation and support collective action. Let’s work together as Cumulus members to show what a true global community of artists and designers can look like as it enacts change.

 

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