The opportunities in an Economic Downturn for Designers

I keep hearing of people being laid off – Designers are losing their jobs in the current downturn. So what do they do. I have a few ideas for things you can do as you wait for the economy to turn around:

1. Go back to uni and do a Masters degree. So you get to skill up, retrain, have fun and wait out the downturn.

2. Start a social innovation venture. I have a few ideas for this and have been talking to colleagues about doing a series of workshops to help interested people to get a venture up and running.

3. Start a Blog and write in your free time. In this way you can develop a byline and an online portfolio of thoughts – which will be useful when you go looking for work in time.

4. Do blue sky projects and post them online.

5. Retrain as a Social Innovator, Interaction Designer or Service Designer.

6. Become A Green Loans Home Sustainability Assessor. Follow this link to see more.

Now if any of these ideas appeal to you do comment and we can start a conversation.

Economic Downturn Boosts Work at Home Opportunities – Web Design Melbourne

Work at home opportunities or home based businesses will soar over the next few years. This is not just because people will have to work from home because they have been laid off – had to retire- or feel uncertain about the future. It is because this is the economic trend.


Design School Vision

I finally started writing – the tool kit for a new School of Design. A tool kit because a vision is so self aggarandising. Tool kit is so much more participative. For now the tool kit has three parts – a way to do a take on design.

1. The Agenda – which in this case is a social agenda. As against a technological agenda. A  social agenda where design is a community engagement discourse. The BOP is one core context of practice – and ‘for the marginalised’ is the defining focus.

2. The Approach – which in this case is porous to allow in local practices of engagement. PRA re Chambers being one of them. I add to this a version of design process which is designed for long and slow projects. Design then is fundamentally not an expert discourse (with a quick fix and get away strategy) but a community involvement discourse. I situate a critique of the ‘Technology for the marginalised’ as a key way to think of the approach.

3. The Artefact – which is a way to define profesional specializations. For now I have ‘social innovation’ and ‘social enterpreneurhsip’. Then I have service design. The big question is how much of the conventional courses can one let in – and will they be a contaminant. Industrial design will eventually become egaged in the making of the sofa!

Will leave ths for a bit.

KICKING GOALS – CHANGING LIVES: Discussions about homelessness, poverty, social entrepreneurship and making a change

Series Venue:  BMW Edge at Federation Square, Melbourne
Series Moderator:  Ms Tracee Hutchison, a writer, broadcaster, reporter for
ABC TV’s 7.30 Report and Saturday Age Opinion columnist.

Wednesday 3 December – Kicking Goals – Changing Lives
A discussion with young people about street soccer, crime, homelessness,
poverty, achievement against the odds and how young people can make a
difference in the world. Before the matches kick off, come along and hear
how the next generation are changing the world for the better.
Mr Dan Adams – Make Poverty History and The Oaktree Foundation (age 21
Mr Emmanuel Bismyf– Child soldier from Sierra Leone, former Australian
Street Socceroo and Reach Ambassador (age 19 years)
Mr Tom Hurley – Yr 10 student who volunteers to teach young African children
English (age 16 years)
Ms Sarah McLardy – Yr 11 student, Reach Ambassador, Board Member of the Mali
Initiative (age 17 years)
Time & Date: 10.00am to 11.00am, Wednesday 3rd December 2008 – plan to
arrive by 9.45am

2 Thursday 4 December – Changing lives through social entrepreneurship: the
challenges and achievements
How do change-makers, community and business leaders make a difference to
homelessness and poverty and deal with the many challenges including the
impact of the global financial crisis?
Ms Moira Rayner – Consultant and former Victorian Equal Opportunity
Commissioner, Melbourne
Mr Phil Ruthven – IBISWorld Executive Chairman, Melbourne
Ms Jane Tewson CBE – Founder and Director Pilotlight Australia
Mr Mel Young – Co Founder, Homeless World Cup, Scotland
Time & Date: 6.00pm to 7.30pm Thursday 4th December 2008 – entry from 5.30pm

Friday 5 December – Women kicking goals around the world
Committed women from Australia and overseas share their stories,
experiences, visions and skills related to the concerns of poverty and
social disadvantage.
Aretha Briggs – Youth Justice Worker, Anglicare and traditional land owner
of the Yorta Yorta lands of Ulupna and Woiwurrung lands of Wonga territory
Wurrundjerri-ballak, Melbourne
Ms Cindy Coltman – Program Director Women Win, Amsterdam
Ms Anne Hooker – Youth Development Officer, Port Phillip Prison, Melbourne
Ms Jan Owen AM – Executive Director Social Ventures Australia, Melbourne
Time & Date: 12.30 pm to 1.30pm Friday 5th December 2008 entry from 12.00pm

Obama White House Wishlist: ‘Office of Social Entrepreneurship’

Social Entrepreneurship – Obama White House Wishlist: ‘Office of Social Entrepreneurship’

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported yesterday that influential progressive think tanks New Democracy Fund and the Center for American Progress are advocating for the creation of a White House Office for Social Entrepreneurship.

While Obama had advocated for a Social Entrepreneurship Agency on the campaign trail, his stated proposal would have it in the Corporation for National and Community Service. A White House placement could signal that nonprofits and social enterprises will have a more important role partnering to enact change than in the past.

The proposals also articulate several ideas for promoting social entrepreneurship and nonprofit action, including creating funding programs that reward innovation, tax incentives for partnerships between nonprofits and businesses, new development aid that better mirrors the private sector investment model of the Acumen Fund.

All of these things would be incredible, and are high on my White House wishlist, but when it comes to government, the emphasis has to be on building a sustainable infrastructure for social innovation.

Enabled by Design now a ‘dot org’ social start up

enabled by design

As of today, we are officially a ‘dot org’ social start up!

Marking an important new chapter in the Enabled by Design story, today sees the launch of the Innovation Exchange’s Next Practice programme. EbD and 13 other third sector innovation projects have been chosen to work with the Innovation Exchange and develop our work, taking them on to the next level. Sat within the Independent Living half of the programme, Innovation Exchange will provide us with business coaching and access to related networks, some tailored support around our needs as a business, and also a helping hand with some seed investment through NESTA’s Innovation Exchange Fund.

We’re extremely excited to be given a helping hand to move things on to the next level. Its hard to believe its only just over 7 months now since we took part in (and won!) the first ever Social Innovation Camp – but equally amazing is how much you can fit into a short space of time. Since the Camp, we’ve been awarded level 1 funding from UnLtd which has allowed us to work with cutting edge organisations such as Headshift (social software) and ThinkPublic (user involvement) to really focus on getting users to engage with the project. We’ve also spent a lot of time building relationships with key organisations as well as individuals, developed our branding, and more recently even formally established EbD as a company.

Social Entrepreneurship Defined

Social Entrepreneurship Defined | Social Velocity

Because social innovation is such a new field, terms are still being defined. At times terms are used interchangeably when in reality they have very different meanings. Academics and thought leaders are still hammering out final definitions, but in the interim a common language is beginning to emerge. In an on-going series, I’d like to explain and expand on different terms within the social innovation space. Today I will start with Social Entrepreneurship.

In their ground-breaking 2007 article, “Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition,” two leaders in the field, Roger L. Martin & Sally Osberg, define social entrepreneurs as having three necessary components:

(1) identifying a stable but inherently unjust equilibrium that causes the exclusion, marginalization, or suffering of a segment of humanity that lacks the financial means or political clout to achieve any transformative benefit on its own; (2) identifying an opportunity in this unjust equilibrium, developing a social value proposition, and bringing to bear inspiration, creativity, direct action, courage, and fortitude, thereby challenging the stable state’s hegemony; and (3) forging a new, stable equilibrium that releases trapped potential or alleviates the suffering of the targeted group, and through imitation and the creation of a stable ecosystem around the new equilibrium ensuring a better future for the targeted group and even society at large.

(click here to read more)

Hawkens new book

Blessed Unrest

Blessed Unrest is exciting, compelling, and very important. It describes the growing unrest that I encounter around the world, the frustration and courage of those who dare to challenge the power of the political corporate world. Paul Hawken states eloquently all that I believe so passionately to be true – that there is inherent goodness at the heart of our humanity, that collectively we can – and are – changing the world. Please read and share Blessed Unrest, a celebration of the awakening of the human spirit. It will inspire and encourage millions more to take action.

-Jane Goodall, UN Ambassador for Peace

Paul Hawken speaks at Bioneers 2006

Campus Recycling Project

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A Project to recycle waste on campus.

Social Innovation Examples

Image from Fitted for work site

I am keen to make and publicise a list of ‘social Innovation’ case studies located in Melbourne Australia.

These may be projects/ companies/ ventures/ initiatives/ and other such collectives formed for social good – with or without a profit motive.

Can you give me examples to add to my list? I have a list here which I am keen to add to …

  1. Lentil As Anything
  2. Clothing Exchange
  3. Fitted for Work
  4. Melbourne Community Farmers Market
  5. Flexicar car share
  6. PTUA
  7. Greenline Organic Direct
  8. Waverly Patch
  9. Victorian Quilters
  10. Victorian Feltmakers
  11. Tiffins
  12. Sustainable Living Foundation
  13. 100 Mile Cafe
  14. Nappie Wash
  15. Meals on Wheels
  16. (Shopping bus for elderly)
  17. Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
  18. Moroccan soup bar
  19. Get up
  20. CERES – Mushroom, and Bike shed
  21. Amway
  22. Tupperware
  23. Group Self Build – (Build your own home)
  24. Westwyk
  25. Shifting Space
  26. Dulaiwurrong Eco Village Eltham
  27. Community Gardens (VEIL Map)
  28. (Communes)
  29. Salvation Army
  30. Informal Sector ( Wind Screen washing)
  31. Toy Library
  32. The Ethical Consumer Group
I am also looking for examples of:
  1. Artists Collectives
  2. Health Collectives
  3. Community Gardens
  4. Seeds Collectives
  5. Aged Care

Or to use the categories of ‘creative communities’ – I would like to add examples from each of these categories.

  1. Housing
  2. Working
  3. Socialising
  4. Learning
  5. Commuting
  6. Eating

If you know of any interesting examples I could add to this list – do add it below as a comment or email me.

Youth and Causes

So doing good shouldn’t feel like a chore – and so the alldaybuffet is a network in the US – a network of youth who want to do good. Like the melbourne green drinks of o2 australia – alldaybuffet too has a drinks programme. Or as they say it – ” Why? Because you’re going to drink anyways.Cause for Drinks is a series of bi-monthly happy hour hosted by alldaybuffet in cities across the country. It’s a pretty simple idea. People in each city gather for happy hour at their local watering hole and $2 from every drink goes to a selected charity. We’ve raised over $5,000 in a couple of months. That’s almost 2,500 drinks consumed. Excited yet? Check out our past Cause for Drinks to see how we get down.”

I cite this to make the case that social entrepreneurship and social innovation is now cool. Will this be then the decade of the birth of SI – with many categories and many takes on the way to get involved. Whats is ofcourse symptomatic of the movement is the belief that the energy and motive exists – what is needed is a channel. And so this group even have educating kids for social entrepreneurship – see this.


The Waste project is on Hold! And will be activated in November as a business model for community orientated waste/ recycling services.

The project has developed a model and run a pilot recycling program. The effort now is to convert the model and pilot into a business model for dissemination.

Garbage in Naples

‘Garbage from Naples is being carted north to Germany for incineration, as part of a one-off effort to ease the weeks old waste build-up in the Italian city.’ For more

Disruptive Social Innovation

India’s Mega-Disruptive Social Innovation? A Tiny Car

I recently caught up with senior execs from various business units at the Tata Group, India’s leading conglomerate. They were all rightfully proud of the $2,500 Nano, the world’s cheapest car. We discussed how, before it has even been released, the Nano is already a disruptive product innovation. The Nano offers a safer alternative to families riding dangerously on bikes in big Indian cities like Mumbai. Similarly, Nanos converted into taxis will be more comfortable and environmental-friendly than the unstable and polluting autorickshaws (there are more than 60,000 autorickshaws in Bangalore alone). Finally, middle-class young couples can opt for two nanos instead of buying a single expensive midrange car.


Base of the Samosa

I have finally begun reading Prahalad – and have been deeply and persistently irritated. First it was the blase account of the post colonial history of India. Then it is the valorising of Hindustan Lever and putting all into the framework of a ‘social’ economic construct – and of course the pyramid. There is no room for ‘evil’ which is what the track record of the MNC (which are going to deliver us from poverty if CKP has his way) has been in developing countries – a la opium and the British in China. But maybe this perspective – of looking at the MNC with suspicion – is the marginal ( and reactionary) as CKP says. I will allow that.

But what of the aesthetic – they, the MNCs, have a flat, colourless aesthetic- very socialist Russia.

Either way I went looking for the critique of the BOP and CKP and found a little – but also found among the acolytes an interesting post. Read on.

Behind us, on a brown flip chart taped to the wall, is drawn a large three sided figure, a triangle really, with the words “Base of the Pyramid” written on top, or BoP for short. That’s us. A brave hand ventures forth, “Do you mean like a samosa?” For those not in the know, a samosa is a triangle shaped pastry of Indian or Persian origin, stuffed with a delightful filling of meat or vegetables. You can find samosas being fried and sold fresh on the mud tracks, pathways, and streets of Kibera; one of the tasty treats will set you back only about 5 shillings (7 cents). “Yes!” we say with a smile, thankful for a local translation, “The pyramid is like a samosa! The rich people are up top, that’s where most companies traditionally focus, but down below here in the base are some 4 billion people, a whole world that’s been…” There’s another hand up in the air now. “Tafadhali”, we prompt, “please.” “Why should people at the top of the samosa get everything,” one man asks, “when all the meat is at the bottom?” There are a few murmurs of agreement from the crowd, so the man continues, “And why a samosa? A chapati would be better, that way everyone is the same!” This time there are cheers. A chapati is a flat round fried bread, kind of like an Indian version of a Mexican tortilla, and like samosas, chapatis can be found fresh and hot all throughout Kibera. I love chapati, but I’m too much of a free market fan to buy into the idea of it as a symbol of world commerce, nor do I think it’s an accurate representation of how the world really is. Another man speaks up, “Can’t we just turn the samosa upside down?” “Upside down?” “Yes,” he explains, “turn it upside down, then all the rich people are on the bottom and we can force them up to the top!


What is Social Innovation?

Many definitions:

  1. Social innovation is a concept that involves the use of new technology, or the new use of existing technology to achieve a social purpose. It includes the application of examples of good social practice so that these can have an impact on more people. From here.
  2. Social Innovation happens through new solutions to social needs. To solve problems such as social exclusion, lack of quality of life, and participation, we need new solutions and to reinvent the existing ones to achieve better quality, more impact and efficiency. The creation of new strategies and answers to address social needs is urgent, especially where they are getting worse (i.e. climate change and aging), where the existing models have failed or idle (i.e. democratic participation, criminal justice or education), and where exists unexplored potential (i.e. the intelligent use of technology for housing and health). From here.
  3. Social innovation refers to strategies, concepts, organizations that meet social needs of all kinds and strengthen civil society. Examples of social innovation include micro-credit financing in Third World Countries, earned income strategies in nonprofit management, zero-waste/closed loop industrial systems, socially responsible business and corporate social responsibility. From here.
  4. Case studies here.
  5. Social innovators are individuals who propose novel ways to consider and solve major social issues. Social innovators partner with communities to offer sustainable solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. The social innovator recognizes when a part of society is stuck and provides new ways to get unstuck. Rather than leaving societal needs to government or business, social innovators solve problems by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new approaches. Effective social innovation links research to practice, builds on existing community strengths, takes a long-term view, encourages measured risks, builds networks and partnerships across sectors and silos, and invests in strategic research and policy analysis. From here.
  6. social innovation — the emerging art and science of bringing different groups of people to the table to collaborate on solving complex community-based problems such as poverty reduction, disease control and job creation. From here.
  7. The process of Social Innovation from here.
  8. To simply define, social innovation is to meet unmet social needs through the development of new products, services and organisations. From here.
  9. “pattern-changing new ideas that meet pressing unmet social needs…” From here.

And finally from the Centre for Social Innovation

Definitions of social innovation abound and a casual observer can quickly become entangled in a debate over meaning and nuance. We’re not too hung up about it so we’ve adopted a simple working definition: Social Innovation refers to new ideas that resolve existing social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges for the benefit of people and planet. A true social innovation is systems-changing – it permanently alters the perceptions, behaviours and structures that previously gave rise to these challenges.

Even more simply, a social innovation is an idea that works for the public good.

Social innovations come from individuals, groups or organizations, and can take place in the for-profit, nonprofit and public sectors. Increasingly, it is happening in the spaces between these three sectors as differing approaches collide to spark new ways of thinking about the challenges we all face

Strategic Story Telling and Social Innovation

What do stories have to do with social enterprise?

At its core, social entrepreneurship is about introducing a new story of social innovation – and convincing others to believe in your market-based solution. Too often, the status quo stands in the way of behavior change and idea adoption.

Most social entrepreneurs must ask others to reframe some of the basic assumptions that we all take for granted. That’s why reason alone cannot overcome the intractable forces of culture. You need a story that inspires and emotionally connects to what people care about.

A well-crafted story becomes the platform that allows people to See, Feel, and Believe in what you are doing. By starting with the right story frame, you accelerate the pace at which people will be able to locate themselves and feel drawn into your story.

Your story should call people to a higher truth. Help people see something we tend to ignore or overlook. Illustrate a new path where everybody wins. Frame your message around universal needs and aspirations. What do we all deserve or want? Rather than pontificate on the moral value of this truth, develop a point of view that is refreshing, unique, or even provocative. Get people to think from a new perspective.

Great stories are driven by sincere emotion. This kinetic energy is what engages people, and gets your audience to invest in the outcome of your story. We make choices based on feelings, not reason. Your story must establish an emotive connection, compelling someone into caring and wanting to be a part of what you do.

Every story is ultimately at the mercy of its audience. They hold the power to judge and perceive your story however they wish. Get clear on the audience you are trying to persuade and take the time to understand their motivations. How will they identify with your story, and why should they believe in your ability to deliver on your promise?

MORE … in Social Edge

Waste and SI

My foray into waste began in 1998 as a classroom exercise for my students where we were looking at types of problems and ways to approach them . The first exercise to design a better garbage bin became an exercise to portray the whole system. Two months later I agreed to do a pilot project, ‘Campus Recycling Programme’ (CRP) to test the Zero Waste system and also agreed to find the funds to run the project from industry sponsorship ( IITD Seeks Corporate Support For Recycling Project , Indian Express, New Delhi, 18/ 04/1999). This I did (collecting, for over two years, close to 1.5 million rupees, donations of vehicles and infrastructure) and the project was up and running soon. In this phase the pilot project serviced 200 houses. Bins were installed outside the homes, a campaign was conducted to elicit the cooperation of the residents, and all the other infrastructure elements required for the project were designed and fabricated. By the sixth month the segregation rates were very good, in the 8th month it was nearly 100 %. At this point the institute asked for it to be upscaled to the whole campus and came in with the salaries for the staff (Approximately Rs.100,000 per month). I continued looking far and wide for sponsors for the vehicles (2 small trucks donated by Scooters India) and for infrastructure (Suzuki and DSCL were the big supporters) like the bins and the building of the collection centre and offices.

A year and a half later I was coordinating the collection of 2 tonnes of waste everyday, and when this project, the Campus Recycling Programme, finally ended there were two worker owned NGOs (In year three the project team, now an NGO, Naya Savera (New Dawn), formed by the team members, was awarded a commercial contract) together servicing, in addition to the University campus, around 8 communities/ localities in the city. There had been a lot of media coverage, many invitations to speak to local community organizations, conference audiences and a role in preparing the position paper for Johannesburg 04. After the project I coordinated the preparation of a status paper for the Department of Science and Technology (the equivalent of ARC as the premier S&T funding agency) on municipal solid waste in the country. What I hold precious and which is really quite significant for me is this and growing; the lives of the project team members were transformed – 30 families had a predictable source of income; the city of Delhi and possibly India too had a community model for recycling waste; and about ten thousand households in the city had a feeling they were making a contribution to society by supporting their waste service provider.

The project was awarded the ” Indo-German Greentech Environmental Excellence Award” in January 2001 for its work in demonstrating a sustainable solution to the problem of managing waste in an Indian city (Award to the Campus Recycling Programme: The project was the topic of a magazine article in a series that looked at people making a difference to society (Outlook India, 17 December 2001: ” Some time in the beginning of this year, Soumitri and Vasudevan decided to spin the boys off into an NGO to disseminate their expertise for projects outiside IIT as well “). I have presented this project at conferences and workshops in Delft, Lisbon, Israel, and Paris. At this time I was involved with Sajha Manch, a forum of associations of unauthorized colonies in New Delhi and helped write the waste section in the Alternative Master Plan for Delhi. Student who have worked with me (also other students have studied the projects – typically from MGT and Civil) have worked upon many aspects of the project like the vehicles and other infrastructure elements. Last year a group of students (RMIT – Industrial Design) organised a waste trip like the ones I used to do in India – going from bins to landfills to recycling centres like Vizy.

Today there are many NGOs servicing different parts of New Delhi two of these are run by former staff of the project, and there are many others doing this in much the same fashion. The Waste campus/ collection centre became a tour destination for many of the UN agencies in New Delhi & continues as an exhibition for the project. In June 2000 I was invited to a meeting by UNEP (Paris) on “Product Service Systems”; this was one of the direct outcomes for me, and it was followed by invitations to two more UNEP events. The meeting was to be a crucial formulation of a change of regime in the sustainability discourse – from products to services. I presented the CRP at this meeting and in the debates ensuing made a point that community orientated traditional service systems (the wallahs) existed in developing countries. At the end of this meeting I agreed to do a project to look into wallahs and over the next few years had groups of students documenting different wallahs (such as the Dabba-wallahs of Mumbai who have been the subject of study in best practices by Harvard University). This resulted in a joint paper with a colleague for a UNEP conference in Japan in December 2003.

Key Words:
Recycling Incubator
Waste Water

Blog (1) Resource Archive for Project Waste TBC

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