searching for connections between design and social change

opinion: found it late, but it changed my mind

This has to be the one piece of writing about the whole issue of social design that really put things into perspective for me. Some gems include:

If this blur of hysteria begins to make you feel a little woozy, join the club. I’m all about helping people, spend much time doing so, and I agree with Mariana that there’s more than enough pain to go around in this world. The people trolling the net and re-posting RSS feeds for the pleasure of their Twitter “possees” are just engaging in a big circle jerk. But beyond such dim sighted initiatives something else lurks: the sudden widespread enthusiasm for social amelioration through design. It’s so terribly trendy to care, about the poor, the environment, and every form of “betterment” that I begin to assume we must be selling more design by fetishizing social relevance.

As a faculty member who leads semester-long socially based projects, when the semester is over it is often hard to sustain student interest and momentum in the project. Ironically, in graphic design education there are now so many people attempting to do this, one no longer really needs corporate sponsorship to “ignite change,” although much more could be said about differing definitions of what change should entail. According to Wes Janz, “For way too many people, ‘changing the world’ is equivalent to ‘controlling the world,’ ‘telling the world,’ ‘educating the world.’” He goes on to say, “I don’t see many people understanding, as I said to Tyree Guyton, that we can change the world by being changed by the world. It’s always, my terms, our terms, our intentions, our actions, our ideas, and in the end, it’s just the same designer-as-hero bullshit to me, whether in Malawi, Kosovo, or Muncie.”

David Stairs also wrote this review, and now I want to be him. But because I can’t steal identities that well, I’ll just have to set up a google alert and pay attention to what he’s doing. Yes, that means internet stalking.

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What dovetailing talks about

Dovetailing searches for connections between design and social change.

The design discipline is generative and problem-solving. In the last few years the design field has grown outwards, its methods -design thinking- applied to business strategy and, by consequence, to social change and innovation. This blog tracks down connections, players and projects in the field of design for social change, analyzing the findings in a skeptical, assertive light. Unclouded by optimism, this blog searches for action upon our surroundings, and change in processes, systems and ideas that don't work.

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Have an interesting read, project or person I should know about? Send me the heads-up here! I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting things; tips and suggestions are always appreciated.


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