"My name is Gwendolene Mugodi and I am a writer and the founder of Paivapo Storytellers, a movement that aims to provide better access to local, good quality literature to the children in Zimbabwe--and eventually beyond. Our work would not be complete without the help of local artists like Abel Zvorufura who I met through the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. As two different artists we spent about a month and a half going back and forth on this book until we got to a place we were both happy with. I look forward to sharing that full book in a few months, but for now here's a little bit about Abel and why he does what he does."
Targets in the Distance
Greetings from Providence! And New York! And Boston! And Cupertino, Tanzania and Berlin...
Greetings from around the world, as I have the privilege to speak on behalf of the entire 2013 Planning Committee for A Better World by Design. Our astounding team of 17 Brown and RISD students is spread across the globe, but our collective hearts are set on Providence, in preparation for our 6th annual socially conscious design conference in September 2013.
As students, hosting a conference for 1000 participants can seem like a task beyond reach. However, with 17 brilliant minds working to bring socially conscious design to the forefront of industry, things get moving fast. Being the leader of our team of 8 in Providence, RI, my biggest challenge has been keeping up with everyone. We’ve made leaps and bounds towards hosting our September conference, as well as making A Better World by Design an icon of socially conscious design. However, amidst rapid growth and progress, I’ve found how easy it is to lose sight of your targets.
A Better World by Design’s mission is to promote the mindset and thought process that is socially responsible design. This means that our product, our conference, no matter how well executed or received, is a means to an end. That can be disheartening, but also a crucial point of reference as we work daily on the projects that make up the conference. We have a responsibility to always ask “How does this project, in this moment, promote socially conscious design?”
It’s a difficult question to answer, and certainly one that we’re not always able to grapple with. However, it’s a crucial tenant of our design process. Rallying around a mission, form follows function, and it follows by means of empathy for our end users. By baking social innovation into our work, we’re creating a community where our members feel a sense of belonging and connection. They feel the presence of socially conscious design, because it’s been there from the start.
At least that’s our goal. I’ve been finding myself stretching to just check off the box, let alone connect my work to our broader mission. It’s challenge to achieve short term goals in the name of a larger mission, with a broader definition and longer timeline. A well executed design process helps make this connection, where each piece of the final product works in harmony with the rest to fill a larger role. It’s a philosophy that I’ve always embraced, but one that I never realized was so difficult to implement, until now.
Around the world, our committee is meeting and collaborating, in coffee shops and on Skype, over the phone and in studios. Our team itself embodies this design principal, working collaboratively towards a common goal. As we enter July, the culmination of 12 months of work is but three months away. We will continue to challenge ourselves to work always with our mission at the forefront, and recognize that every decision we make must be in the name of a larger ideal. We won’t always succeed, but it’s by this process that we can continue to refine and improve. For us, failure is an opportunity for success, and around the world, our team is striving for a successful 2013 A Better World by Design Conference.
August 11, 2016
June 13, 2016
Lauren Maunus '19 is starting a bold new venture.
Its goal: To help eliminate food waste and bring healthy, affordable food to "food swamps" in Rhode Island and beyond.
March 15, 2016"If little girls like me were saying Barbie is the pretty one and the brown one is the ugly one, that's a problem."
Yelitsa Jean-Charles studies Illustration at RISD with a a concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality. She identifies as a visual activist, and believes that artists have a responsibility as society’s image-makers. Her doll company and book series, Healthy Roots, combats internalized racism and colorism by getting to the root of the problem: altering beauty standards and cultviating self-love for young girls through education, diversity, and positive representation.
March 12, 2016An Excerpt
Mina is a Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellow. She traveled to her home in Iran last summer and brought back a cultural souvenir: the book she wrote, Taste of Culture. She explores Iranian families, streets, stores and the stories and spirit embedded in the recipes of Iranian food. She hopes to start a conversation about the benefit of knowing cuisines of different cultures to connect societies.
This year's class of Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellows have just begun their yearlong foray into the world of social entrepenuership. Check out their projects here.
December 16, 2015
Ria is a 2015 Social Innovation Fellow and co-founder of No Country for Women (NCFW), an internationally-recognized gender education initiative that aims to combat systemic gender-based discrimination in India. Ria and her co-founder, Shreena Thakore ’16, who grew up in India, were awarded the Projects for Peace fellowship and used this grant to launch the project in May of 2014. NCFW was set up to educate the people in India on gender, rape culture, and misogyny through a series of workshops and initiate informed discussions about social change.
I was inspired by Ria’s story because she was determined to start a conversation about an issue in a country that fights hard to keep such issues silent and hidden. We reflected on Ria’s experiences, her interactions with young people, most of whom had never thought about this obvious form of discrimination before, and her moments of self-doubt and extreme conviction.
October 2, 2015