• 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.”

    People told us stories about their neighbors helping out during hurricane Matthew. Children reminded us of simple gestures of kindness that we all too easily forget; picking up a friend when they fall and loving your family. SCAD students, regardless of their time in Savannah were all able to tell stories of human kindness. Tourists and vacationers let us know that they loved the history and sense of community inherently built into Savannah which caused them to chose Savannah as a destination time and time again.

    Most people were excited just to share a bit of themselves and their love for the city. They were more excited when we told them how their stories would live on.

    We wanted to create something that would last longer than the day of the festival – something that people could share.

    We created an instagram page for SA/GA to share pictures of people with their stories and encouraged them to post their own with #saga. But we wanted something physical that people could see a change over time. So, during our one hour workshop at the festival, we asked people to share stories already written or write their own if they hadn’t already. We taught everyone how to fold the stories into origami hearts to hold seeds for bush beans. If they wanted to be able to identify their origami heart, they decorated a wooden paint stick to identify exactly which story is theirs.

    We worked with the SCAD gardening club to learn how and where to plant Savannah’s stories, and Cassandra walked us through the ideal spacing and depth for each individual seed to make sure the plants grow and flourish. We’re excited about what will grow there as the result of community sharing. We’re also happy to be building on a legacy ourselves, as we share strong ideas that have bubbled up in the past, and carry them forward.

    Everyone who shared their story is invited to the SCAD community garden on April 22 to plant their stories and watch them grow.

    We hope to see you there!

    Follow us on Instagram at @your_sa_ga.

  • 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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  • A New Take on Affinitization

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    By Gabi Campagna

    After looking into different city case studies regarding sustainability initiatives and department dynamics, it was time for us to begin our primary research. With the help of the Department of Environmental Services and Sustainability, we were able to contact several department heads within the City of Savannah as interview subjects. Our goal in these interviews is to understand the mission and methods of each city department so that we may find areas of convergence and opportunity for sustainably driven departmental collaboration.

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  • Inspiration from other Sustainability Plans

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    By Beki Diaz

    As our first dive into the topic of sustainability, we decided to start by looking at other cities and how they have started to shift to sustainable practices. We chose a diverse range of cities including Atlanta, Charleston and New York. Not only did cities these provide different approaches, they represent the ideals that the City of Savannah’s Office of Environmental Services and Sustainability looks forward to embracing and incorporating. As we start to work with them to find strategies that can help them move forward, a look at these role-model cities was the best way to understand their goals.

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  • Sustainability from a Design Management Perspective

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    By Pilar Moreno-Azcarate

    Three weeks ago we started a journey of understanding and welcoming sustainability into our practice as design managers.

    In our first week of exploration, we discovered that design management methods and sustainability models are very similar; both are based in systemic thinking and in a holistic approach to problems. This is not a coincidence; both emerge from the urgency of changing the way society has been developing. “The Industrial Age has brought extraordinary improvements in public education, human rights, and material wellbeing, but it has also destroyed ecosystems, swallowed up traditional cultures that had thrived for centuries, and created a way of life that cannot continue for much longer” (Peter Senge, 2008). We are shifting to a new era where the only way to bring development to everyone and guarantee a safe future is transforming our paradigm to start a truly sustainable way of living. This implies changes in how businesses project their vision and structure. Business models need to incorporate systemic thinking: “invest seriously and immediately in building a regenerative economy and society that mimics nature as fully as possible” (Peter Senge, 2008).

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  • Taking the Next Sustainable Step

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    By Claire Partlow

    As our ten-week project has drawn to a close, the UST team reflects on what has been a productive and insightful first step into Sustainable Small Business in Savannah. Throughout this project we have endured a rigorous process of ethnographic research and analysis. We also had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing numerous “champions” of sustainability in Savannah. In addition to our research, we hosted three events to gain feedback from key stakeholders. Through our extensive research process, we were able to discover compelling insights that are supported by data.

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  • How Will Our Next Date Look?

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    By Alexis X.A. Roberts

    Insights are indeed the keys to good design: We had heard from our Green Business stakeholders in Savannah that the existing social events geared toward sustainability in town had grown unfruitful, and a little stale. We responded to this with a Green Speed Dating event. To be clear, we weren’t actually trying to have our Green Business Owners date one another. Instead, this event was meant to introduce our stakeholders to a new way of approaching the existing social landscape of Savannah’s Small Green Business network. Our Green Speed Dating was intended to stimulate conversations around future plans, and around the idea that innovative collaborations between businesses can create the right conditions to nurture those plans.

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  • Keys to Meaning + Good Design


    - A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience. – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

    by Alexis X.A. Roberts

    Insights are the keys to design that are meaningful and compelling. We shared some of these insights with a number of pioneers of Green Business in Savannah to gather more input during our midterm presentation and workshop. Now the challenge was to bring our original insights and these newly discovered ones together to inform our next step. We had just over a weekend to make them come to life but we ended up with something exciting which you’ll read about in a later post. Here’s a little bit about the journey we took to get there.

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