Storytelling and Design for Good

Month: April 2011

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Upcoming Event: Festival of Ideas for the New City


Games for Change: Play Your Way to Making the World a Better Place

[caption id="attachment_202" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The “Demo Spotlight” gives an opportunity for game developers to present their projects at the Games for Change Festival. Image via "][/caption]   Who knew that fighting global warming could be so fun? Just ask Al Gore, who was announced yesterday as the opening speaker for the 8th Annual Games for Change Festival, a three-day event dedicated to exploring the potential of games for social impact. “Vice President Gore is a significant global advocate who has effectively used popular media to bring issues of pressing concern to mainstream audiences,” said Co-Presidents of Games for Change Asi Burak and Michelle Byrd in a press release. “His presence at this year’s Festival underscores the immense potential of pairing social impact with the increasing accessibility of games.”

Design Impact Fellows: Empowering the Resource-Poor in India

[caption id="attachment_193" align="alignnone" width="468" caption="Photo via Core77."][/caption] Calling all designers, organizers, communicators and relationship builders! Design Impact,  a U.S.-based nonprofit that partners professional designers with community organizations, is accepting applications for Design Impact Fellows to work full-time for six months in Indian communities affected by poverty. The fellowships begin in November 2011. Possible projects for this upcoming term include "technology-driven job skills curriculum for disadvantaged youth, waste charcoal briquetting to reduce indoor air pollution, small municipal biogas plants to decrease reliance on fossil fuels" and many more! Final project descriptions will be posted in July.

Q&A with Bart Bettencourt, 21st Century Pioneer in Eco-Design and Sustainable Business

[caption id="attachment_184" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Bart Bettencourt"][/caption]   Here is a brief glimpse into the work of my friend and mentor Bart Bettencourt. Bart is best known for SCRAPILE, a sustainable furniture line created in collaboration with designer Carlos Salgado. One of his SCRAPILE tables, made of re-purposed scrap wood, was featured in a rotating exhibit, “The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design,” first displayed at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he is known for bringing sustainable building and furniture products to the East Coast. As a designer and businessman who started his professional design career in New York City, Bart is a well accomplished, forward-thinking person.
Back to the drawing board... Photo by Shawn Campbell.

Design Thinking vs. Creative Intelligence: Who Cares?

[caption id="attachment_97" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Back to the drawing board... Photo by Shawn Campbell."][/caption]   To me, design has always felt elitist. As a profession, it seems unattainable. In the arts world, it has to do with having better taste. In business, it's about making more money. In engineering, it's about solving bigger problems. And your way of problem-solving is "human-centered," which means you have more empathy than others. If you haven't had a job at IDEO or given a talk at TED, there's no reason to know you. You have to go to art school, design school, engineering school, architecture school, to claim your credentials. You go to Stanford and abbreviate the name of your school, because everyone already knows what the "d" stands for. You don't have to explain yourself because it's supposed to make sense. And if people don't get it, they probably don't need to. You win international awards for "excellence." You have a pattern of exhibiting exhibitions or publishing publications. You know the right vocabulary. And you often jot those words down on whiteboards or sticky notes. You know the difference between low-fi and wi-fi. You know how to ideate. And test prototypes. You don't think disruption is annoying. You follow frameworks and paradigms and methods for thinking, because the way other people think is apparently not efficient or rational or creative enough. You can use both sides of your brain as quickly as you can say "bespoke." It's also not a weird thing that you're T-Shaped. I'm being facetious, for sure. I love design—from graphic to social to universal. That's why I created this blog. And humans are designers by their very nature. So it's impossible for design to be elitist. But design—or, rather, the thinking of it—is still failing.