• Midtown Sustainists: Give a Person a Fish

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    By Varun Prabhu

    The word design was once reserved for the creation of pretty stuff: Stuff like tangible products, an intuitive bunch of pixels, or well-rounded services. Design was meant to increase the appeal of products and services to sell pretty things. Design, in other words, meant consumption. But what if that was just a start for design, rather than its only function?

    What if the principles that guide the process of design could be used for something more?  What if, instead of selling things that provided an ephemeral sense of joy, design enabled the long-term growth of good things? What if design could be used to solve human-centric problems through a rejuvenation of social bonds?

    Keeping this in mind we have taken inspiration from reports like Metathemes: Designing for equitable social change created by Design Impact, an organization that believes that the complexities of life’s challenges differ in personal impact based on people’s zip code, income or race. They tackle those challenges with creativity and a focus on the people directly experiencing the issues. The report is a call to action with six major metathemes that should be considered while designing for equitable social change. They are as follows:

    • Bridge Norms

    • “Value me for who I am, not who I’m told to be. Challenge me to grow.”

    • Go Beyond Feedback

    • “Move from community voice to community leadership.”

    • Feed my Soul

    • “Tap into my passion, tap into my power.”

    • Redesign the System

    • “Decrease system complexity to increase engagement and dignity.”

    • Give Room to Heal

    • “Consider my whole self, including my trauma and history.”

    • Keep Promises

    • “Show up every time. Deliver on your word.”

    Hello, we are the Midtown Sustainists and we are an eclectic group of individuals from across the globe. We are here in Savannah, working together for the next two months to see how we can take a passion for design and convert it into action for a people. Our goal is to act as a catalyst for a more resilient community in Midtown Savannah. We’re more interested in sharing the process and value of design thinking with communities of people than providing design solutions to anybody.

    Working with and alongside people and organizations like Ramsey Khalidi and Emergent Savannah, who have been involved in the community for decades in Savannah, we want to help these individuals build and alter their community for the better. The way everyone within the community deems fit.

    For more information on our process and inspirations please look at The Social Labs Revolution and The Sustainist Design Guide, both of which elicit how to go about approaching complex challenges and designing for everyone’s pursuit of hope and happiness.

  • Resiliency in Savannah: Moving Forward

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    By Rachel Segrest

    We began our design process with the intention of building resiliency in Savannah, which for us would entail increasing the resiliency of the community. Our mission statement claimed, We are leveraging our collective skills to empower the people of Savannah to spark greater civic engagement and foster community resilience.

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  • Designing for Equitable Social Change

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    By Kaley Blask

    When we began our journey with the Savannah community this quarter in partnership with Emergent Savannah, one of the first resources we turned to was a report by Design Impact titled Metathemes: Designing for Equitable Social Change. We also had the great pleasure of interviewing the Metathemes authors at Design Impact via Skype in the early stages of our project. Design Impact is a non-profit social innovation firm based in Cincinnati, OH that specializes in collaborative problem solving through a design lens. What this means is that Design Impact works with community leaders, government officials, and nonprofit organizations to address complex problems (such as hunger, homelessness, and access to healthcare) with the help of the design process. Design Impact’s mission statement is this: “We collaborate with passionate people, bring design and innovation practice to the table, and work together to design a better world.”

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  • Building Community Resilience with Emergent Savannah

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    By Eliska Skarolkova and Jahnavi Gopal Mange

    Emergent Savannah came into existence in 2015 within the walls of a small studio apartment. A group of working citizens facing discomfort and frustration with the segregated community they witnessed in Savannah decided to join forces and form a collaboration to combat this divide. They are involved in a variety of community work, participatory research and information workshops throughout the city, the purpose of which is to bring citizens of Savannah from diverse cultural backgrounds and working environments to a single platform.

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  • Coming to Know Savannah

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    By Felipe Cuellar & Cosette Saliba

    Empathy is the capacity to step into other people’s shoes, to understand their lives, and start to solve problems from their perspectives. According with The Field Guide to Human-centered Design; “Human-centered design is premised on empathy, on the idea that the people you’re designing for are your roadmap to innovative solutions. All you have to do empathize, understand them, and bring them along with you in the design process.

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  • Three Cities that Savannah Should Look to for Inspiration When it Comes to Resilience

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    Let’s get inspired about what the city of Savannah could become.

    By Jenna Bowers

    Any successful research project begins with some in-depth secondary research. For us, that meant looking into case studies of cities that are doing it right. Because we are searching for a way to foster a more resilient Savannah, we found it appropriate to look into the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities. 100 Resilient Cities works with cities worldwide to build resilience to the growing social, economic, and physical challenges of the 21st century.

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  • What Will You ‘Leaf’ Behind?

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    Community members shared their stories – now they’re growing into new life in Savannah’s urban gardens.

    By Gabriela Valez

    Yes it’s a pun. But it’s a pun with good intentions.

    SA/GA is a project that aims to bring people together and foster resilience within the local community of Savannah. It encapsulates the spirit of Savannah’s rich cultural history, uniqueness, inclusiveness, and innovation through stories, relationships, and wisdom.

    These stories become the legacies of the citizens, and our team wanted to find out what those legacies might be. For the Savannah Earth Day Festival in Forsyth Park on April 15th, our team created an opportunity for citizens of Savannah to share their stories. We asked festival goers to “Tell us a story of when you felt close to your community.”

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  • Electrifying Change: Five City Buildings Take the Energy Challenge!

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    By Anaïs Cipriano and Rachel Segrest

    The City of Savannah is known for its beautiful natural elements, and the city’s Office of Environmental Services and Sustainability is doing its part to preserve that beauty. As one example of many, the department is exploring employee competitions, with the goal of creating a sustainability culture among the city work force. This platform was employed for the first time last year with a campaign to reduce recycling in 5 of the city’s buildings. The Thrive Five recycling campaign was a big success.

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  • Reflections of a Design Manager on Sustainability

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    By Hernan David Maestre Piedrahita

    Design is not easy, it requires consistency and passion. It involves an innate desire for change from individuals who see the rough present and believe that their contribution over time will have a positive impact in their context. Designers understand that creative work will always allow improvement, that to pass from invention to innovation we have to endure a diffusion curve that might seem as an uphill battle, that we need a clear vision, a strong project, and key actors for our project to diffuse and be successful.

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  • Are We More Connected Than We Think We Are?

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    By Jingya Zhang

    On Oct. 31, we were excited to make our midterm workshop happen at Gulfstream Center for Design, home to SCAD’s Design Management and Design for Sustainability programs. With the help of the Department of Environmental Services and Sustainability, we were glad to host several department heads and staff members from city government in a midterm workshop. Our goal was to present our research process, generate insights and concepts derived from 3 weeks of interviews with representatives from a dozen city departments, and determine next steps for the remaining five weeks of our course.

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