Design for Social Innovation Newsletter: June 2017
An update from the front of social design
It’s summer. School is out. Time to reflect, prepare, appreciate; to review the past and think about the year ahead. Another class nailed their thesis presentations, graduated and is out in the world, ready for it. Soon to be second year students are working at jobs and internships, researching the ideas that will grow into thesis projects next year. We prepare by welcoming new faculty, evaluating and refining syllabi, speakers and programs for September. When another exciting cohort will begin again. At the moment, we enjoy being in between.
Watching the thesis presentations on stage at the Beatrice theater, it’s easy to see what makes DSI unique. There are no apps looking for a problem to solve, no platforms disconnected from the people they’re trying to help, no technology in isolation, no ideas hatched and implemented without collaboration from the communities served. The DSI students presented systems-based programs and integrated initiatives based on research, critical thinking, evaluation, prototyping (and prototyping and prototyping).
For example, Michael Raineri designed a program that diverts tons of waste from landfills, creates jobs for community organizations and feeds gardens, all from coffee grounds. Jade Broomfield took on the role that truancy and stereotyping play in the futures of young African American men, turning them into superheroes while introducing them to mindfulness. Pragya Mahendru worked with Paul Polak and his Spring Health enterprise in India, digging deeper into last mile delivery systems for communities that don’t have clean water. Kendall Murphy launched a campaign that enlists Heavy Metal crowds to lead the world in eating more consciously. And that’s only a few.
Gill Wildman, of Plot London came to New York to participate in our Measured Summit last January, and we got to talking about the high level of interest in her home town for measuring the impact of social design. We went there, and hosted a “brilliant” British evening. Gill led, Jesper Christiansen was there and so was our dear friend Cheryl Kiser, of the Lewis Institute and the Social Innovation Lab at Babson College. The participants were accomplished and deeply engaged in design, the conversation was exciting.
But don’t take our word for it, you can read all about it and see a video here.
Last year we launched a publication we said we wanted to be “an antidote to bloviation, obfuscation and jargon.” Lordy (as Jim Comey said) we could sure use that more than ever.
Any day now, our second edition will be ready to read, and it’s filled with writing tools from some of our speakers at the Measured Summit. You will find articles by Evan Thomas, Rosanne Haggerty, Cheryl Heller, an interview with Zoé Bezpalko (of the Autodesk Foundation), and many of the templates for measuring that these presenters and others use.
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