• Striving for Health Equity in Savannah

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    By Lara Isaacson

    Everyday, each of us operates within complex systems, such as health care systems. However, few people stop to think about the construction of these systems and how they can create inequitable health outcomes. How would the structure of a health care system change if those responsible for its design didn’t know what part of the social strata they would be in tomorrow? Without the privilege of our current perspective and socioeconomic status, wouldn’t all of us want to live in a society that actively supported equitable health outcomes for everyone? Although it is not always possible to recreate entire systems, there’s a type of work emerging that allows us to target the parts of the system where we can have the most impact and ‘solve for pattern,’ rather than individual problems.

    In the SCAD Design for Sustainable Practices class, this quarter we have the opportunity of working with the people who are actively changing the system. They are promoting health equity in Savannah, GA. These wonderful folks work for an organization called Healthy Savannah which has been advocating for health with a mind for addressing structural racism for over a decade (since their start in 2007).

    Yet, there is still much work to be done. The Healthy Savannah team explained that currently, a ”zipcode can change the trajectory of someone[‘s] life”. Health Equity will only be “achieved when every person has the opportunity to ‘attain his or her full health potential’ and no one is ‘disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances’” (CDC).

    In early January 2020 we were brought on as design partners for helping further their work under the CDC REACH Grant (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health). Under the grant they are working through the PSE (Policy, Systems, and Environment) approach to reduce the structures that create health disparities among low wealth African American and Hispanic populations in Savannah.

    Under the REACH Grant, their focus areas are: nutrition, physical activity, and community-clinical linkages. Focusing on reducing tobacco use is also an option under this CDC grant, however, Healthy Savannah has already made strides in this area with an anti-smoking campaign that helped lead to the enactment of the “Smoke-Free Air Ordinance” in 2011 and the public schools adopting a smoke-free policy that same year.

    Over ten years after their founding, Healthy Savannah continues to be a fixture of the Savannah community, advocating for positive systems change at many levels. One particularly ground-breaking initiative Healthy Savannah has been championing falls under community-clinical linkages. In partnership with St. Josephs Candler’s African American Health Information & Resource Center (AAHIRC), they have collated a vast database of health resources which came online in February 2020, called HERO (Health Effective Resource Organizations Database). This website will create the foundation for a more cooperative network between community organizations and medical services, allowing each to efficiently refer community members to each other. The website will help reduce duplicate efforts and empower the community member to easily find and connect with resources.

    As we move to define our design project further, we are constantly impressed and humbled by the work and transformation of Savannah that we are now closely able to witness. We have barely begun to understand our role in this ongoing work, but we have begun by defining an opportunity statement as we see it. Our mission is, “To partner with Healthy Savannah, providing diverse design knowledge, research capabilities, and people power to raise awareness, highlight value, and strengthen the impact of the HERO database initiative for the priority stakeholders: African Americans of low wealth in Savannah.

  • Table Talk: A community-driven tool to address complex social challenges

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    By Jordanna Coutinho

    NOTE: This post explores the design output of SCAD’s Sustainable Practices class referenced in the two previous blogs. The tool convenes multi-stakeholder groups in order to address impacts of industrial pollution on EJ communities. It does this by placing these partners into actual lived experiences of community members. Harambee House, our non-profit EJ partner for this project, will use this tool in various settings for their partnership building efforts, including their the EPA’s Near Port Initiative. Table Talk was a finalist in the 2019 Sappi Ideas That Matter grant.

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  • Hudson Hill’s Rich History, Issues, and Hopes for the Future

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    By Chris Tsuyuki

    We’ve been honored to be meeting with community leaders and residents in Hudson Hill over the last 5 weeks, and we’re happy to share a little of what we’ve learned about the neighborhood. In the coming weeks we’ll share more about the work we’re doing with them directly, but a general overview is a great place to start. Hudson Hill’s largest population is residents 34 years old and younger and its most activated and engaged population is their cherished Golden Age. Over 80% of Hudson Hill residents are African American. And low-income households (households earning 50% or below the median income) make up more than half of the community. Faith provides an anchor for the community and residents band together like family. Despite its issues, the Hudson Hill community remains resilient, engaged and committed.

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  • Hello Harambe House!

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    By Kyle Parrapato

    Welcome to Design Management 740: Sustainable Practices in Design! We’re very excited to be a part of the revival collaboration between SCAD Design for Sustainability and Savannah’s own Harambee House. Harambee, translating loosely to ‘working together, pulling together helping each other, caring and sharing,’ is a local not-for-profit who identify themselves as ‘citizens for environmental justice.’

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  • Designing through Uncertainty

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    By Mary Rhodes

    We entered this quarter with a lot of uncertainty. As a class we didn’t’ know each other very well and for the project we only knew who our champion was – Emergent Structures, along with a few general goals that each class before us had. We were presented with the challenge to design and collaborate with a focused community in Savannah, to follow existing energies before creating new and, one of the most important, to design solutions that will outlast our presence. The initiatives we’ve forwarded in this class all require a next level of agreement from the parters involved before they can be publicized further, sot there’s just a peek of them here now.

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  • Saturday in the Yard

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    By Ivonne Zuniga

    Last Saturday, March second, Emergent Structures hosted an event called ‘Saturday at the Yard’. During this beautiful sunny 74 degrees day, multiple volunteers came together with family and friends to show support and be a part of the conversation concerning reclaimed materials.

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  • SHAPE SAVANNAH: A Reclaimed Material Competition

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    By Ivonne Zuniga

    During the research process of our project we have encountered some repetitive insights; people don’t know the value of reclaimed materials; artists are afraid of handling them; and the value of Savannah is rarely communicated through the souvenirs that the stores sell. Based on this information we decided to develop a competition, challenging each of these aspects. Our goal was to prototype what can become an annual competition. But mostly we were very curious to see what amazing ideas our participant would come up with.

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  • Doing Good with Wood

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    By Xiaotong Du

    Nowadays, it’s common for us to notice that people are surrounded by artificial objects. We play video games or connect with friends through computers and mobile phones on a daily basis. We tend to be intuitive to touch the man-made high-tech products with confidence.

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  • Co-Creating Solutions

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    By Jee Eun Lee

    On January 31st, our class invited five stakeholders of Savannah’s material reclamation and maker communities to present to them insights from our secondary and primary research. We previously met and interviewed each of them individually (and many others) so this was our opportunity to meet as a group and listen to their opinions, thoughts and ideas about our insights.

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  • Is Community Based in Geographic Location?

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    By Mary Rodes, Rina Strydom, and Ivonne Zuniga

    If you look for the word community in a dictionary, the main two definitions that pop are:

    • A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
    • A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

    Community has been a key word in our project, mentioned many times in the group meetings, however, recently the question arose: What kind of community are we talking about?

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