Defended Space

At Kairos, we talk a lot about defended spaces. The Kairos Survey measures our reflexive responses to the categories of information coming to us from our surroundings. Which, among other things, makes visible the volume of distractions coming at us as we try to select one thing for our attention.

Therefore, creating spaces -- either physically, or psychically through selective attention -- to defend us somewhat from the bombardment of information coming to us from our surroundings is important work for us.

Today, for new circumstances, I’m proposing a different kind of defended space. Many of us find it necessary or important enough to risk in-person communication during this time of Covid-19 bombardment. The best advice at the moment is to maintain at least six feet of distance between each of us to reduce our exposure to a toxic viral load.


There are a number of heuristics being developed to help us identify and maintain that distance. May I propose another? There is an ancient design found in the compass rose and, from my cultural tradition, the Celtic Cross, that can help us foster unity in distance.

How to do it The example here shows two lines intersecting at 90-degree angles. Call them North -- South; East -- West.

Call the point of intersection, zero. From the intersection, each N,S,E,W line should be nine feet long.

Next from the intersection, draw out six-foot lines at 45-degree angles from N,S,E,W. Call them NE, SE, SW, NW.

With a person standing at the center, and one at each point of the compass, we form a defended space that offers both protection and communion. Each person will be at least six feet from any other.

Again, out of my tradition, I added an inner circle as a nod toward the mystery of the sacred circle. Your tradition may lead to other adaptations. I created one on the grass in front of my house. You might use a parking lot, driveway, playground, or warehouse floor.

Populate it consecutively with one person standing an outermost point, then two at the nearest inner points, three at the center and outer points; two at the remaining inner points; one at the last outer point.

It can become a relatively defended meeting space; a space that would allow people to wait turns to enter other spaces when distances to form long lines aren’t available; with chairs on the points, it could become a kind of waiting room. (Disinfect regularly).

While I'm offering this as a solution for necessary and important gatherings in a format that meets current pandemic guidelines, it doesn't eliminate risk: merely reduces it. May I suggest that reducing risk in these times is something the less vulnerable of us do for the most vulnerable of us?

If you make one of these for yourself, please take a photo and text it to the number below or tag us on social media @kairoscognition with the hashtag #DefendedSpace.


Francis Sopper

Kairos for Business FAQ Terms Privacy