Interaction of Design and Equality

In taking a break from traditional work to travel, I am exploring the topic of inequality through the lens of design. My journey is an attempt to understand if and how design (visual, experience, urban planning, architecture, etc) as a discipline can/should play a role in improving the socioeconomic and racial issues we are experiencing locally and globally.

While being a nomad is not exactly conducive to scheduling interviews, my goal is to find at least three individuals who are involved in organizations that attempt to provide equal opportunity to all via design.

If the topic is of any interest to you here are a number of articles and resources that have helped to guide my journey and shape my perspective thus far:

Project Goals

  • Selfishly is to determine where I want my career trajectory to go so I can actively contribute to the betterment of the world
  • Instigate a conversation with other designers because I truly believe we should be introspective and critical of our role
  • Explore cultural nuances surrounding the topic

Organizations

  • Design For Good, a rather comprehensive list of resources
  • B.Corp, not specific to design but provides a community of organizations “creating the most impact for a better world”
  • IDEO.org, IDEO’s non-profit branch
  • Acumen and +Acumen, focused on alleviating poverty. +Acumen provides several free courses and occasionally partners with IDEO on design thinking initiatives.
  • Reve Academy and Brandlab, two Minneapolis based non-profits that equip students, mostly low income, with hard skills for digital careers
  • Barn Raise, annual conference that connects designers with community organizations to “prototype viable solutions.” A version of this conference exists in many cities at varying scales
  • CityLab, a number of their authors are really awesome to follow on Twitter
  • Code for America and US Digital Service are looking at design through the lens of government and politics as a means to empower citizens.

Articles

My friend and her husband are at Duke getting their masters of divinity and political science respectively. During the initiation phase of my project, they asked me if I was trying to define the goal for equality or how to get to the goal. With that question, they also offered two short stories to facilitate a dialogue around defining the goal for equality.

  • Omelas, presents one concept of equality whereby a great number of people are happy at the expense of a few
  • Harrison Bergeron, another concept where everybody is equally unhappy

There are so many other articles and organizations to discover. Let me know if I’ve missed any that are dear to you OR if you’re interested in being interviewed.

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