Soumitri in 2016

Design is vehicle for change. A Design Project can be a campaign. In a furiously online world I see design projects as either a first step towards a business venture or a campaign that changes the way people think. Design innovations can change the way we deal with ageing and death. Design projects can change the way the world thinks about issues. Design projects can be about improving the lives of ordinary and marginalised people. Below are some of the areas I am currently interested in/ excited about:
  1. How to die well
  2. Ways of dealing with obesity
  3. Imagining a Future beyond Medicine
  4. Ways of Journalling Pregnancy
  5. Design for people with Locked-in syndrome
  6. Proposing a Bio-Dome (a personal diagnostic ecosystem)
  7. Design for living longer
I live and work in Melbourne. In Melbourne there is a lot of energy these days around imagining a healthy future. I engage with this energy.
  1. My design approach focuses upon proposing a future that contains preferred/ visionary products and services.
  2. I am excited by design projects that focus on the small and big challenges facing humanity.
  3. I see design projects as campaigns and so have developed, and therefore teach, the abilities required to prototype design projects within communities.
  4. My current interest is in innovations in healthcare services, where I focus upon de-medicalising and re-contextualizing normal practices to develop new traditions and artefacts in the areas of:
    1. Mental health
    2. Obesity
    3. Ageing
    4. Death
    5. Diabetes
    6. Maternal health
    7. Hearing loss
    8. (Defines the design theme or discourse)

Flower-lined streets had fewer burglaries

miyazaki street japan image
Flower Power Thwarts Burglars in Japan : TreeHugger

Studies have shown that hospital patients make a speedier recovery when they have a exposure to living vegetation, like trees and flowers. And certainly great metropoli are made even more liveable by their extensive parks and gardens. Now it seems that plants can also deter burglars. Sort of.

Suginami, a district of Tokyo, Japan experienced over 1,700 break-ins in 2002. By 2008 this had dropped by about 80%, down to a mere 390 thefts. This dramatic change is attributed, in part, to Operation Flower, according to a Reuters report.

The project, one element of a larger crime prevention scheme, came about after a neighbourhood watch team discovered that flower-lined streets had fewer burglaries.

Curriculum Design

Just some eye candy on this subject – Papanek’s sketch.

I made the draft for three curricula – courses in Social Design, Service Design and Social Innovation. I am imagining that at this point the object trajectory of design is one path. The dematerialized is another way entirley.

The difference in the two paths is the focus upon the elite in the former. A focus upon objects, beautiful things and the producer. The latter focuses upon change and upon lives.

2009 project

Theme: Social Innovation and Service Design

My practice is in the area of sustainability – which I articulate as the development of projects that look at material and systemic sustainability in Industrial Design Projects. A lot of these projects are speculative and propositional so located in the future. I work with a set of defined methods and strategies to think through the projects and develop the solutions. In recent years I have seen the amplification of the social dimension in my projects – and I have also seen the outcomes of the projects as social innovations. Often I have seen the projects become new, viable and self sustaining business ventures – which are social entrepreneurship ventures. I campaign for a dematerialised world and therefore privilege service design – which in recent days has seen me move towards interaction design which is needed in the development of and delivery of services.

And …
I see two kinds of students in the studio. One with clear projects ( developed in Research Methods) and others who can; one, quickly come up with a project idea in the area of sustainability, or two, work on a project within my Urban Laboratory research grant project. This latter is titled NGINGO and is a cluster of projects making up a full scheme for a ecologically closed-system university campus – this is a live project.

Therefore the topic spread will look like this:
1.    Individual project
2.    Ngingo Project (12 design projects)
Key aspects
1.    Student allocation: my preferred option is student centered and therefore student selects.
2.    Calendar – Week 3 (end research), week 6 (at risk check) and week 8 for closure (presentation of digital finals), week 8 to 15 is for execution/ making.
3.    Deliverables – digital-model, folio-report, 3D model-prototype
4.    Day – Thursday Morning
5.    Project – Individual project or Themed studio (Ngingo)
6.    Learning Contract – the student specifies their schedule (3-6-8-15)
7.    Online record (developing a byline) – wordpress ( this is web2.0 and develops students’ online publishing capability), firefox with addons (scribefire, delicious, vodpod)
ProBono Design (campaign 1)
Additionally – All students would volunteer for a design submission for a bushfire-safe bunker – full scheme to be submitted in week 2. This is something they do alongside the project – and is something I am doing with Architects for Peace.

This is the subject of a UL grant application and is a cluster of concerns in the area of modelling sustainable solutions. Sitting behind the application is a live project for a university campus in India – thus a potential trip to India to present the work/ exhibit it(sem 2 NID exchange student will work on the exhibition design ).

1.    Ecosphere (6 projects) – AUD in context, description of the campus environment in India
a.    No sewage pipe – extreme water use challenge
i.    Clothing care
ii.    Washing, cooking and cleaning
b.    Zero waste – no garbage out of campus
c.    Energy – self sufficiency
d.    Food – Urban agriculture
e.    Subterranean bunkers – cool room
f.    Transport – No personal vehicles and sharing
2.    Social Innovation (3 options) – entrepreneurship incubator
a.    Food – Local food, student food
b.    Health
c.    Sharing
3.    Car and car sharing (1 option)
4.    Bushfire Bunker (1 option)
5.    Diabetes (1 option)

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.

Social Design it is

I have just come back from India. And from Presenting the School of Design vision. For now its all go – and that is really exciting. In short the vision argues for three new kinds of courses:

1. Social Innovation: Where the key focus is upon a people orientated project that uses methodologies more attuned to the social. The vision here is that the problems of the world cannot be solved by technical intervention at the tip of the pyramid only. And trickle down is often ineffectual as it dries up before it gets to the bottom.

2. Service Design: Where the key focus is upon changing existing services which are doing such a bad job of ensuring a decent quality of life for all – or of coming up with new service ideas.

3. Social Design: Where the undergraduate curriculum in design is proposed – as a social one. Where the discourse is post professional – where specializations ought to be seen as things of the past. For specializations were a feature of a technological society – as in compartments and efficient units. In a post industrial society the profession of design too changes and becomes disengaged from the material and technical.

The school vision acknowledges the existence of the two dominant/existing paradigms of design – as the art and design construct and the technical innovation construct – and proposes an additional paradigm the social. Which is a sense makes then the case for the existence of three meta discourses: the 1850s onwards dominated by the Art and Design rhetoric in the words of Ruskin-Morris, then Gropius and Muthesius; the 1950s onwards where the technical-industrial is privileged in the voice of Banham, with Pevsner sitting on the fence; the 1990s onwards where the third discourse emerges in the voice of Manzini and the post-sustainability texts.

Sustainability has a post attached to it as design was to leave the technical in sustainability to the labs, TU Delft and the clusters that went too far into LCA, the quantitative and the rhetoric that was then called eco-design. But as the suits moved in to sustainability discourse – the poetics got marginalised and the aesthtic in sustainability was relegated to the material manipulations. So the ‘save the planet’ brigade in design opted out and found social innovation.

This is succinct picture – just done to distance social innovation from sustainability. Where sustainability is about the dominant discourse and the social is the inclusive marginal.

In short there is a possibility that the discourse of design i about to get a fresh lease of life – atleast in India – in the guise of the social.

Sustainable Innovation: The Organizational, Human, and Knowledge Dimensions

Sustainable Innovation: The Organizational, Human, and Knowledge Dimensions | Discovery Fuel

Problematically, most contemporary patterns of innovation in human social systems and organisations are not sustainable. This prevents people from learning effectively, from recognising and solving their problems, and from operating in sustainable ways. It is arguably why societies, businesses and industries around the world are so unsustainable.

Sustainable innovation is a pattern of social learning and problem- solving that is, itself, sustainable. The sustainability of innovation, moreover, is linked to the sustainability of its outcomes, which manifest themselves in what people produce and do in the world. Sustainable innovation, then, is a necessary precondition for sustainability in how societies and organisations function – the ways they organise, the products and services they make, the energy and resources they use, and the wastes they produce.

As challenges such as demographic pressures, ethnic tensions, terrorism, global poverty, pandemics and abrupt climate change force their way into mainstream politics and business, so we see growing interest in innovation, entrepreneurial solutions and, critically, issues such as how to ensure successful solutions replicate and scale. Sustainable Innovation aims to illustrate that shift. Instead of simply focusing on environmental and technological matters, it views and evaluates innovation-for-sustainability in terms of the human, social and management challenges and responses.

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.


d.light – About Us

The use of kerosene lamps has caused countless disabilities and loss of lives. Kerosene lamps are a poor and unreliable source of light that emit smoke and create unhealthy home environments. They depend on kerosene fuel, which is expensive for the rural family. There are 1.6 billion people worldwide who still use kerosene as their exclusive source of light.

Our Vision
D.light will be a world market leader in off-grid lighting and power solutions, unceasingly serving our customers with innovative products that improve their lives.

Our Mission
We will replace every kerosene lantern in the world with high quality and affordable light and power solutions, thereby providing everyone access to a basic human need: safe and bright light.

By 2010, we will improve the lives of 10 million customers.

By 2015, 50 million customers.

By 2020, we will have improved the lives of 100 million customers.

By then, we will have significantly contributed to completely replacing kerosene as a lighting source with clean, safe, and affordable lighting.

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

More Social Innovation

“The world needs more social innovation—and so all who aspire to solve the world’s most vexing problems—entrepreneurs, leaders, managers, activists, and change agents—regardless of whether they come from the world of business, government, or nonprofits, must shed old patterns of isolation, paternalism, and antagonism and strive to understand, embrace, and leverage cross-sector dynamics to find new ways of creating social value.” from Rediscovering Social Innovation, By James A. Phills Jr., Kriss Deiglmeier, & Dale T. Miller, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall 2008

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.

Measuring the economic impact of social innovation

MaRS Blog – Innovation and Commercialization in Canada » Blog Archive » Measuring the economic impact of social innovation

A few weeks ago, someone asked me how social innovation has affected the economy and, more specifically, how that compares to technology innovation. Nothing obvious came to mind. After some serious thought and a thorough search of my favourite sites on social innovation, social metrics and SROI, I still hadn’t found any documentation that made any claims about it. This remains an important area of work to flesh out for those involved in the social innovation/social enterprise dialogue.

However, as of now, there exists no standard social measurement in Canada. Why not?

Social innovation, as we’re now defining it, has not been tracked long enough under an economic rubric — social innovation, in this sense, is not to be confused with the social economy, which has successfully measured the economic impact (more than $10 billion/annum) of “non-profits.” Nor is it to be confounded with Corporate Social Responsibility, which has its own way of tracking SROI.

That said, there are tools currently being used in the US and the UK, such as REDF’s SROI Collection in the States or SROI-UK. Not one, however, is considered the go-to, likely because no single index is relevant across the board.

For those interested in learning more about social metrics, the discussion is happening – we’re now seeing, seminars, panels or entire conferences, such as the Skoll Foundation’s Fifth Annual Conference of Social Entrepreneurs: Measuring Social Impact, dedicated to going deep with this topic.

We’re also discussing the subject at this year’s Social Entrepreneurship Summit, on November 17th at the MaRS Centre. Nigel Biggar, the Director of the Social Performance Measurement Centre at the Grameen Foundation will be presenting on what the Foundation is doing in terms of impact metrics.

So how did I respond to the initial inquiry?

Understand social innovation

Understand your social innovation topic (a step in Design Thinking) « Contagious Creativity

To understand a huge topic such as social innovation, the very first step would be our sincere interest and passion to know more about both elements: the social, and the innovation. The first time I learned about this was last year, as part of a training offered by the Centre for Social Innovation (you’d think I’d get a hint from their name, but that was a slow day for me). They describe the process as the 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. Some examples are the Wikipedia, the Open university in the UK, micro-credit, the fair trade movement, and community wind farms (Geoff Mulgan talks more about these examples). When you dig deeper into the research as part of your thinking mechanism (now that you became a design thinker), you get more information on the leadership qualities behind those who pioneer it, the environmental factors that facilitate its process, and even how to notice the missing gaps that can lead to a socially innovative idea. In the case of micro-credit, one of the leading figures and a Nobel Prize winner is Dr. Muhamad Younus, who noticed that a village of 42 people in Bangladesh only needed $27 to pay their debt and save them from the loan sharks. He loaned his own money to the villagers thinking it was a gift, and was surprised when the money was returned to him fully after the villagers recovered their losses. That initiated a movement of micro-credit around the world.

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.

The necessity of Socially Engaged Design

Still at the level of ‘meaning’ construction in design – but I am inserting the notion of ‘manifesto’ – and archaic term much loved by students.

Moon Base, Victor Papanek and the necessity of Socially Engaged Design « Design Research Group

Naturally there’s much to disagree with Papanek, if not in his overall argument, then in the detail. For example, it’s difficult to see how consumerist design can be modified very rapidly. In later books his proscriptions, particularly in the area of societal structures become a little arcane (for example he goes someway along the path Rudolf Bahro and other deep Greens went with regard to dismantling current society into much smaller self contained units – ideas I’d not necessarily entirely disagree with but find difficult to believe will be implemented any time soon). But on the other if he provides me with a justification for Moon Base…


We are committed to the development of a discourse for a socially engaged design practice that seeks to address the complex and contradictory role designers play as cultural producers in capitalist societies.

Is Design Elitist?

I have maintained for some time that Design ( and Architecture) and all these practices are in the main elitist! I say in the main as there exist more inclusive projects and perspectives such as – Design for the other 90 percent and Architects without frontiers. Though I have got into arguments defending these projects/ enterprises. When asked – but dont these people live i the west and locate their projects in the developing world? and then even more troubling – dont they spend a big part their efforts (read budgets) putting up exhibitions and making glossy books to sell in the cities of the developed world? – I have to admit defeat. For it is true that there is a lot of the noble i these projects – well argued in Papanek’s Design for the Real World – yet at a philosophical level you cant but nod in agreement with Michael Maren. So leave it at that for a bit.

Elitism, Democracy and Design

Of course, one can still affirm as desirable one’s membership in who knows what kinds of rarefied subcultures, societies of weird enthusiasm, marginal headspaces, marvelously perverse lifeways, or incredibly arcane and difficult professions, and be therefore a kind of “elitist” in the pursuit of one’s private path of perfection. But it seems to me that these essentially aesthetic and moralist projects are only elitist in the troubling anti-democratizing way under discussion when they acquire public ambitions, when they seek to dictate or circumvent the interminable process of pluralist politics, the ongoing reconciliation of the diverse aspirations of stakeholders who share the world with us even if they are not members of our moral communities or sympathetic to our esthetic lifeways.


Word Spy – philanthrocapitalism

philanthrocapitalism n. Philanthropy that uses the principles, models, and techniques of capitalism. Also: philanthro-capitalism. [Blend of philanthropy and capitalism.]
—philanthrocapitalist n.

Example Citations:
Much of the strength of the philanthrocapitalism movement lies in the effort to remodel the philanthropic paradigm, and to offer a new vocabulary, a new mind-set, and new mechanisms for approaching traditional work. Reform of the philanthropic sector was, no doubt, long overdue. But the risk of advocating philanthrocapitalism without skepticism is that the movement could devolve into something like Tom Lehrer’s old joke about the new math: that it could become more important to “understand what you’re doing rather than to get the right answer.”
—Richard Tofel, “The New Face of Philanthropy,” The New York Sun, September 26, 2008


VOLANS: The Business of Social Innovation » About Volans

Volans is a for-profit company, dedicated to the business of social and environmental innovation. Founded in March 2008, Volans is based in London and Singapore with partnerships developing across the world. We work with corporations and social enterprises to create opportunities for talent share, to spark the innovation of new business models, and to facilitate investment in scalable solutions. We are pushing towards a new generation of social enterprises with the potential to bridge — and ultimately close — the great economic, social and environmental divides that pose such a profound challenge to our collective future.

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)

Taking on Australian Industrial design education: current practice and future directions

Draft abstract.

Mr. Stephen Trathen, University of Canberra Australia and Dr. Soumitri Varadarajan, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

There is much international discussion regarding the role of Industrial Design in a rapidly changing world, from the view to focus solely on the need for relevant design skills and knowledge as fundamental for employment; to a recognition that industrial design is having to work in a more complex environment and with an ever increasing need to be able to work with and have an understanding of other knowledge areas. This shift in practice has required design education to restructure, often as add ons and patchwork solutions (as they did with sustainability) – more rarely as brand new programs where the old emphasis upon skills is only faintly seen (as in the case of programs which emphasize interaction design) – to accommodate and reflect this change. And so programs and practitioners all over have taken upon themselves the challenge and come up with many solutions to deal with the situation in which ID ( a profession with its key constructs coming from the 1st industrial age) finds itself. As a result diversity proliferates and so does a lot of denigration of each other’s curricula and the resulting graduate capabilities. At this point both Australian industrial design practice and industrial design education flounder in the onslaught from new practice-constructs and the pervasive sucking-out of opportunity by new locales of industrial manufacture and therefore employment for traditional ways of product design practice. University educators find themselves in a period of reflection and renewal with competing factors vying for dominance the authors propose that there is no one ‘way’ – and through this paper explore the strands in the complexity and construct a way forward that privileges clarity and dialogue.

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Service Design studio at RISD

I stumbled upon a service design studio at RISD. This is the first – for me to find service design in the US. From my exposure to studio teaching in the US – both from returning students who went there on exchange and from my visits to design studios – I had a picture of design teaching as essentially focussed upon skills and ‘product design’ with hard outcomes. This is new – and I will add it to my delicious alongside ‘participle’ (which is similar to my practice with its leaning towards social innovation). I plan to write to the studio team – and who knows this time next year I may have some students from heer on that studio.

Final Project Idea « Service Design Studio at RISD ID

I have always thought that the Laundry system in RISD is inconvenient. When I go all the way down to laundry room, sometimes all machines were full and I had to come back and wait until any machine is available. I would never know if there are available laundry machines unless I actually go to laundry room to check. One time I put my laundry in the washer and totally forgot about it. When I realized that I left my laundry in laundry room, it was too late. Someone stole all my American Apparel clothes! I was so upset but I could not do anything. Based on my experience, I decided to develop the laundry system for college students who live in school dormitory. I want to make an internet website that shows every laundry room on every floor in school dormitory so that students can monitor the status of laundry machines.

I found that there are already existing internet applications such as “” for Roger Williams and “” for Columbia University. I asked my friend who goes to Columbia University about his online laundry system and he said he feels convenient but still there are some problems; even if he knows that there is available washer or dryer, the one who goes to the laundry room first got to do laundry first, and also the only way that he can know whether his laundry is done is to check the website. I thought it would be better if they have a waiting list for laundry and an alert system. For the alert system, I am planning to use sound effect and text message service.

Obama’s energy plan and social innovation opportunities

Continuing the conversation that we’ve started, check out the Obama Administration’s energy plan video posted below. Today on TriplePundit, the founder of added a layer of specificity to the specific new economic opportunities that the energy plan would create, for the economy in general and entrepreneurs in particular. A couple salient points for socially-minded entrepreneurs: * Getting 1 million Plug-In hybrids on the ground is going to take technological innovation, particularly around batteries. Author Craig Isakow points to A123Systems as an example of a venture-backed firm working on these new technologies. * Specific goals for a higher percentage of our energy to come from renewable sources will create not only new entrepreneurial opportunities, but new markets to support them, such as the Carbon Trading Markets that many entrepreneurs have begun to tap as a funding opportunity for their social ventures.What are some of the most interesting social ventures readers have run across in the clean technology space?

click on the ‘grey’ social innovation tag – on top and watch video in new page.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Coming Fourth Sector

The Coming Fourth Sector | Social Velocity

In the last couple of years there have been discussions about the convergence of the public, private and nonprofit sectors, some call this The Fourth Sector. Up until now, there have been, for the most part, 3 separate sectors. The government sector was separate and distinct from the private (or for-profit) sector which was separate and distinct from the nonprofit sector. That’s not to say that there weren’t crossovers and partnerships and joint ventures. There absolutely were. Government has always been a huge funder of the nonprofit sector. The business sector has always helped fund and lead (via board seats, etc.) the nonprofit sector. The government provided incentives to the growth and development of the business sector, and so.

But the concept of the Fourth Sector is that the three sectors can no longer be separate entities. In the Fourth Sector you have concepts like social capital markets where the nonprofit and for-profit sectors find and channel their capital in almost the same way. Just as we invest in and grow successful businesses to scale, we will invest in and grow successful nonprofits to scale, often with the same sources of capital. Good Capital and Investors Circle are just a couple of examples of this. Also in the Fourth Sector, government becomes a venture capital fund for social innovation. Government, along with business partners, provides growth capital to nonprofit organizations just as a for-profit venture capital fund would provide growth capital to a business. I discussed Obama’s platform on a Social Innovation Fund like this in an earlier post.

Change dot Org

Social Entrepreneurship – About

What if you could train disabled persons, formerly-trafficked women, and other underserved groups in Cambodia to take on one of the most important and intellectually intensive roles in modern global business?

That was the question Jeremy Hockenstein asked himself when he founded Digital Divide Data, a nonprofit social venture that teaches computer skills to individuals from underserved Cambodian communities and employs them to digitize volumes of hard-copy information from companies around the world. Since 2001, the company has provided its services while its employees receive not only fair wages and benefits, but access to scholarships and career development opportunities.

The ability to identify and seize opportunities has long been the key trait of economic entrepreneurs, but for the last few years, there has been an ever-growing buzz around a new class of change agents referred to as “social entrepreneurs,” entrepreneurs who use market opportunities and innovative strategies to create social benefit. The members of this group are recognized as descendents of people like Florence Nightengale, and more recently, Muhammad Yunus, each of whom founded social organizations that fundamentally altered the way we practice and think about social change.