Midtown Sustainists: Give a Person a Fish

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.

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