David Sherwin leads the Collective Action Toolkit workshop. Photography by Takayuki Mark Kasuya
“Go ahead and join a group.” This was David Sherwin’s opening directive to the students and faculty members spilling into Art Center’s faculty dining room for the Designmatters-sponsored Collective Action Toolkit workshop. Sherwin, interaction design director and researcher at frog design in San Francisco, was not merely suggesting attendees sidle up to strangers. It was a non-negotiable requirement, which I discovered when I suggested I would not join a group because I only present to observe and report. “This is all about collaboration, so why don’t you find a group and participate?”
Roger that. Next thing I knew, I had wedged myself into a table full of students seated near the back of the room. We then embarked on our first assignment — writing our names and special talents on separate pieces of paper, which we’d then merge into one document listing our group’s core competencies. This exercise represents the Collective Action Toolkit’s first step in assessing the resources available to each collaborative cohort. In our case, we possessed an unsurprising abundance of design, drawing and drafting skills along with singing, writing and storytelling. Though we had no idea what task we would be asked to perform; it was hard, at that point, to see how this hodgepodge of talents would meld into a whole that was stronger than the sum of its parts.