April 1, 2014

Reimagine, Reinvent

posted by Swearer Center

Anna Plumlee '15 was the Participant Experience Coordinator for A Better World by Design (ABWxD) 2012 and 2013 and is now the Committee Chair for the 2014 conference.


It’s hard for me to remember a time when I was NOT involved with A Better World by Design. I heard about the conference from my mom, months before I even knew I was going to go to Brown. I volunteered at the 2011 conference in September of my freshman year at her urging, got hooked, and haven’t looked back.

ABWxD represents everything that I find exciting about humans and this planet. Before I started working with the conference, I hadn’t ever engaged with design or social innovation. But I never had to question whether or not ABWxD aligned with my personal goals, and soon they came to be one and the same. I think we all can do better than we are doing now – we can care for each other, we can think critically about the work we do, and we can reimagine and reinvent how we engage with our surroundings.

ABWxD has been the most consistent piece of my time at Brown. Classes come and go, as do some friends and other activities, but I have been thinking about this conference every day since I arrived on campus almost three full years ago. It is easy for me to find meaning in this work. At face value, I love to plan and to organize, I love the ABWxD community, and, most of all, I love working with my team. But perhaps more meaningful is that we get to make a tangible difference in the world at large, which is not an opportunity many college students get to have. We are lucky enough to get to actually interact and converse directly with our social, design, and innovation heroes, and are able to highlight their work for the rest of our community to marvel at with us. Particularly as of late, there have been many moments where I was uninspired by my academic work, but there has not ever been a moment where I did not think that ABWxD mattered.

I’ve learned more than I can say from working on this conference. I’ve learned skills like teamwork and perseverance. I have learned to believe in and trust my own abilities and decisions. I have learned that doing work I love will be challenging and taxing, but that it will be infinitely more rewarding than doing easier work I do not love. And I have learned to how to have an impact on a community, and that I can create meaningful change.

How you can get involved: 1. We want to start a Design Concentration at Brown! Email anna@abetterworldbydesign.com to learn more.
2. Submit your ideas to our DCI Design Challenge. Check out our website for more information.
3. Come to our Theme Launch Party/Spring Social Event at Aurora on Sat. April 19th.
4. Register for the 2014 conference! More info TBA soon.