Archive for the ‘Sustainability Initiatives’ Category

View from the Bridge: Reflecting on #ADA25, inclusive design and Ed Roberts’ pivotal role as a pioneer for independent living

Monday, August 10th, 2015
Ed Roberts being sworn in by California Governor Jerry Brown as the State Director of Rehabilitation in 1975. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation Committee

Ed Roberts in 1976 being sworn in by California Governor Jerry Brown as the State Director of Rehabilitation. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation Committee

Last month marked the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a groundbreaking piece of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees that those individuals are afforded the same opportunities as everyone else. Or, as the Justice Department puts it, the Act guarantees that people with disabilities can “participate in the mainstream of American life.”

This anniversary means a great deal to me. Prior to coming to ArtCenter, I spent five years deeply involved in the development and building of the Ed Roberts Campus. This stunning and groundbreaking facility, situated atop the Ashby BART Station in Berkeley, was created by a number of disability organizations to serve as the global resource for the disability community.

The man whose name graces the campus, Ed Roberts, inspired the independent living movement and is widely considered the father of the Americans with Disabilities Act. His story is both thought provoking and exhilarating.

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The Sky is the Limit: An Interview with Mariana Amatullo, Designmatters Vice President

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

The following interview of Mariana Amatullo, Vice President of  Designmatters, appeared in Impact Design Hub. Discover how her process works and what she has learned from 14 years of running Designmatters.

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Allan Chochinov: Mariana, I’d like to start with two questions that I teach my students to ask: What gets you out of bed in the morning and what keeps you up at night? What are you most excited about right now, and what are you most worried about?1

Mariana Amatullo: I would say that what gets me up in the morning and motivates me deeply is living in a moment in time where there is an important call for, and recognition about, the unique value design and designers may bring to shaping and promoting processes of societal change. In this sense, I consider myself fortunate to be participating in a field or inquiry and practice—which gets referred to in a variety of ways as design for social innovation, social design, design for social impact—that is incredibly dynamic, complex and rewarding. What keeps me up at night is the other side of the coin, if you will, of the same motivation: ensuring that we do not fall short on delivering on the promise of design in this space. In other words, making certain that this emergent field not become “the design fad that failed” because we somehow did not honor that promise with the systematic rigor and boundless imagination required for success.

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Designing for net-positive water: SoCal students take on turf, not surf

Monday, February 23rd, 2015
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Environmental Design student Katie Healey’s design proposal for removing turf and expanding outdoor spaces for dining and recreation on the east side of the Ellwood Building.

 

Turf removal.

Not exactly a siren call to emerging designers regularly invited to put their brilliant minds to work developing sports cars, wearable tech and high-end furniture.

Or so one might assume.

A handful of Art Center students defied that assumption, and many others, as they enthusiastically explored possibilities for transforming Hillside Campus into an Eden of eco-innovation during last Fall’s Sustainability Studio.

Linda Estrada, an administrator who manages Art Center’s programs fostering alternative transportation options for campus commuters and other sustainability initiatives, got the ball rolling when she saw an opportunity to participate in a City of Pasadena program offering cash incentives—two dollars per square foot—to replace thirsty green lawns with drought-resistant plants and hardscape.

“And up here,” says Estrada, at Art Center over 17 years, “we have nothing but grass.”

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Designmatters student Adriana Crespo hones her human-centered design skills in Nigeria

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
Designmatters student Adriana Crespo

Designmatters student Adriana Crespo

This past summer, I was fortunate enough to be part of an incredible team of creative people with backgrounds in business design, interaction design, industrial design, engineering and writing, to mention a few. This multidisciplinary group of people make up IDEO.org, a non-profit born from design consultancy (IDEO).   IDEO.org saw the power and success of design thinking and human-centered design, and decided to apply these methodologies to solve pressing issues of poverty around the world.

Being a Designmatters Concentration student, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to start exercising my design skills in the social impact field. My title of “graphic design intern” only partially describes all the tasks and challenges I was asked to take on.

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And the Gold Award goes to…Safe Agua Colombia Team Calientamigos at IDSA International Conference

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Team Calientamigos™ had a very busy summer. The Designmatters team members Mariana Somma, Della Tosin and Safe Agua Assistant Instructor Stella Hernandez returned to Bogotá, Colombia, for another informative field research trip. Around the same time, Tianyi Sun and Kevin Chang visited Austin, Texas, to attend The Exchange, IDSA International Conference, and to accept a Gold Award for Calientamigos™. Commenting on the students’ winning project, IDSA jury member Oscar Peña, global creative director for Philips Design Lighting, described it thus: “Authentic, inventive and playful solution to an everyday need. Good understanding of the value of doing daily rituals together.”

The following three-part post was written by Mariana Somma (Grad ID student), Stella Hernandez (Environmental Design BS 11) and Kevin Chang (Product Design student), on behalf of the entire Safe Agua Colombia Calientamigos™ team.

MARIANA SOMMA

mariana_headshot-300x300I recently had the privilege of joining the Calientamigos™ Team, which began through the Designmatters Safe Agua Colombia project. Through very tenacious last-minute efforts, I flew to Bogotá, Colombia, with teammate Della Tosin, with efforts to take with us five new Calientamigos BOMBA™ heater prototypes to the families living in the settlement of Altos del Pino (ADP), as well as check in on the first two rounds of prototypes left with the families over six months ago.  The experience was incredible, and meeting the families of ADP is one I will never forget. It was amazing to see the families using the Calientamigos™ system to heat water for bathing, cooking, cleaning, and even washing their family pets! For example, a family of 10 uses the BOMBA™ heater on a daily basis to heat bath water, saving them hours of time heating on a conventional stove, and with significant reduction in their gas bills.

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MDP + UNICEF: make AND break designs empower Ugandan youth

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
Peer-to-Peer Mentoring: VJs Shafic, Venas, and Bashir learn basic circuitry in a workshop facilitated by a peer mentor. Photo credit: Tina L. Zeng / 2014.

Peer-to-Peer Mentoring: VJs Shafic, Venas, and Bashir learn basic circuitry in a workshop facilitated by a peer mentor. Photo credit: Tina L. Zeng / 2014.

The following story, by Media Design Practices post-grad fellow, Tina L. Zeng, was originally published on UNICEF’S Stories of Innovation blog. The inspiring innovations reflected below are the result of the independent graduate work she began conducting in Kampala, Uganda in September 2013, supported by the UNICEF Innovation Lab.

What if technology was made to break?

What?

I recently wrote a post about a project that disrupts the current product-oriented mentality for designing technology for development. This project, weDub, is a set of platforms for youths in a slum area named Kamwokya in Kampala, Uganda to make, instead of consume, technology. weDub is a locally developed audio mixer and preamplifier that youths make to perform live improvisations of media content they reinterpret to an audience; this is locally known as VJing. I talk about the three key outcomes of the project here.

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Hope is in the bag: Saeri Dobson designs handcrafted purses in support of displaced Bangladeshi girls

Monday, July 21st, 2014
Saeri Dobson designed these wallets to support Bangladeshi girls and women rescued from brothels.

Saeri Dobson designed these wallets to support Bangladeshi girls and women rescued from brothels.

The following letter pays tribute to Art Center alum Saeri Dobson’s tireless and selfless work on behalf of Bangladeshi girls who have been rescued from brothels. Dobson (MFA 00 NEWM), whose ethically-minded creative practice is embedded right in her company name: By SaeRi: Design + Humanity.

image-1“I founded By SaeRi, Inc. to tell the stories of amazing human lives through my design,” says Dobson, who produces several lines of handmade bags and wallets ranging from bright and funky to chic and understated. She donates 10% of her profits to Speak Up for the Poor, a non-profit supporting displaced Bangladeshi girls and women. “Each By SaeRi bag is one of a kind, designed and made entirely in the USA. I handpick all the materials and oversee the production process.”

This letter, by the founder of Speak Up for the Poor, offers a snapshot of social impact design in action, exemplifying the vast potential for designers to change the world by bringing their social conscience to bear on their creative practice. We salute Saeri’s commitment to her cause, not to mention the elegant leather craftsmanship she brought to the entirely covetable Project Hope line of tote bags.

 

I am writing to express my organization’s support for the work of By SaeRi, Inc., a business which has generously supported our work for several years. Speak Up for the Poor, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, serves girls in poverty in Bangladesh. We remove girls from brothels and fund a home for rescued girls; we run a large education program keeping girls-at-risk in school and out of child marriage and other forms of abuse and exploitation; and we do legal casework and advocacy for girls in poverty who have been abused.

Speak Up relies on the generous support of individuals and businesses. By SaeRi, Inc. has been a faithful financial supporter of our work for several years, giving generously since 2011 to help fund several of our projects in Bangladesh.

Starting in 2011, By SaeRi became a funder of our work at the Alingon Home, a place for girls removed from brothels. In Bangladesh many young girls who are born to mothers working in brothels are themselves destined for forced prostitution as minors, and By SaeRi’s generosity helped fund our important work to remove and rehabilitate girls at the Alingon Home.

Similarly, By SaeRi’s generous financial support towards our Girls Education Program in 2012 and 2013 helped Speak Up build four Learning Centers in impoverished villages in southwestern Bangladesh, school rooms where hundreds of girls in our program receive academic support and mentoring to rise out of poverty and avoid the pitfalls of poverty. Several of Saeri Cho’s students have also contributed generously to our general fund, further catalyzing our efforts to serve girls in poverty in Bangladesh.

Speak Up is thankful to By SaeRi, and in particular, to the founder Ms. Saeri Cho Dobson for her hard work and generosity in supporting our work. We enthusiastically support their continued business expansion. We encourage you to extend every courtesy possible to enable By SaeRi to grow in its important mission as a socially responsible business.

Please contact me with any questions.

Sincerely, Troy Anderson

Founder and International Director, Speak Up

The success of Safe Agua: Students design solutions to water scarcity in Colombia

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Alumnus Isaac Oaks offers a student’s perspective on the Safe Agua Colombia project, just published in the new Designmatters book, Safe Agua Colombia (June 2014). Continuing to build on the investigations and experiences of the award-winning Safe Agua Chile and Safe Agua Peru projects, Oaks traveled as part of a student team to Altos del Pino, in Bogotá, Colombia, to co-create innovative technical design solutions with local families, seeking to overcome some of the social issues created by water poverty and to make an impact through resulting products and systems. 

The Designmatters Safe Agua project fostered my personal exploration into the area of community design co-creation. The experience began with an immersive 12-day research trip to outskirts of Bogotá, Colombia, in fall 2013, where I was among a small team embedded with families in the asentamiento of Altos del Pino. Our focus was designing for the all too common problem of extremely limited water supply. Because they are only provisionally connected to the official water grid, each household has access to a small hose of running water for just one hour every eight days. This highly restrictive schedule became the catalyst for our designs.

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Designmatters and Aspen Institute examine the social, creative and economic impact of the new culture of ‘intrapreneurs’

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
Mariana Amatullo speaking at Desigmnatters' Leap Symposium on the New Professional Frontier in Design For Social Innovation." Photo by Alex Aristei

Designmatters’ Mariana Amatullo opening the Leap Symposium: The New Professional Frontier in Design for Social Innovation. Photo ©2013 Alex Aristei for LEAP

This week the Aspen Institute launched a new series of essays on the growing importance of social intrapreneurs — change-agents within organizations large and small who are fusing business success with positive social and environmental impacts — and the value they are adding to their organizations and society. To kick off the series, the Institute, in collaboration with The Huffington Post, published the following piece by Mariana Amatullo, co-founder and vice president of Designmatters at Art Center College of Design.

Safir BellaliThe Institute also named 2001 Art Center alumnus Safir Bellali, Design Innovation director for Vans, to its incoming class of 2014 First Movers Fellows. Each fellow will tackle a project that will have a positive financial, social and environmental impact on both their company and society. Bellali, who maintains close ties with the College through his participation in critiques and hiring student interns, will explore how new manufacturing technologies will allow Vans to work toward bringing production back to the United States. In Fall 2014, Vans will sponsor a Designmatters/Product Design studio at Art Center.

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Scholarship seeds a new generation of sustainability designers

Monday, May 12th, 2014
From Sam Julius' 'Sustainable Urban Housing' entry

From Sam Julius’ ‘Sustainable Urban Housing’ entry

Our homes, cell phones and laptop screens are filled with thoughtful and functional design. But what about art that creates social impact? Can design influence change on global issues like sustainable housing, access to clean water and empowering disadvantaged women?

Projects featuring practical solutions to these concerns designed by Product, Illustration and Environmental Design students were selected as the winners of the 2013-2014 Denhart Family Sustainability Scholarship competition. Created by a generous gift from Gun Denhart, and son, Christian Denhart (BS 10 Product), the prizes are annually awarded to students addressing environmental and social causes in their work. The scholarships are devised to increase awareness of art and design’s unique capacity to advance sustainability.

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