“What do you do?” It’s a simple enough question on the surface. And there are a lot of simple answers: “I make websites for nonprofits” or “I’m a user experience designer” or “I help run a co-working space focused on art and social justice.” These answers have a certain solidity. They give the asker something to grab onto. But they don’t feel right.

The truth is that, like Tobias Mayer, I have a really hard time with the question. During the course of a project I might cycle through half a dozen roles in order to address what’s needed in the moment: designer, process consultant, facilitator, developer, strategist, visionary, secretary. What I actually do, and what people actually seem to value about my work is hard to encapsulate.

What I do isn’t a role I take, or a thing I make. It’s something deeper than that. After turning it over in my head, I think I have a pretty cool answer to the dreaded question “What do you do?” One that captures the enterprising, participatory, and interdisciplinary spirit I bring to my work.

Lately I’m saying deep design. There’s a lot to unpack in those two words. But for now, I’ll leave it at that.