Category Archives: case studies

coming across chemicals: in plastics and in schools

Chemicals have a been a theme for me over the past few weeks. First I had a reader inquiry challenging the idea that there could be any health risks from plastics in food and drink packaging. Then, I had a run-in with my son’s school over a new, portable classroom that wasn’t properly aired beforeContinue Reading


Earlier this week I attended a lecture by urban sociologist Richard Sennett titled “the social craftsman.” He talked about the possibility that we will have a “jobless” economic recovery (if you can call it that). And he argued that contrary to popular belief, highly skilled labor is not scarce, that most people are capable ofContinue Reading

climate action day – the link to abstract policy

I am a few days late on the climate action blog post (action day was the 16th October). I want to divide this post into two parts. First if you’re just becoming aware or trying to inform yourself about climate issues. Second if you’re already active on climate issues.  In the first case, and onContinue Reading

health care reform, and transformation

Health Care … a timely topic. This post features some of the health related projects I’ve come across in my research on design activism. Designers surely can’t affect the health insurance situation–or can they, service designers?–but the projects below show some of the other categories where designers are trying to improve health outcomes and experiencesContinue Reading

how do design activists cope with fear, risk, and danger?

I’ve heard a lot recently about how those of us working on social change issues, from climate change to health care, should avoid trying to scare people into change. We shouldn’t be fear mongers. Object Orange, a Detroit group highlights abandoned, often crime ridden houses by painting them orange But a couple of recent episodesContinue Reading

readers roundup

Occasionally I get notes from readers who are working on interesting projects. From time to time I’d like to present short “round ups” of the news I’m getting. Here’s the first: Wired Unplugged Are printed magazines dead? Should they be, from an environmental standpoint? Antonio Scarponi, in Zurich, sent me this set of instructions forContinue Reading

let’s talk about climate change

Making potential climate change flooding visible and enabling us to discuss adaptation. The Watermarks Project of Bristol, all images courtesy of Chris Bodle and the Watermarks Project As a U.S. citizen I’m trying to decide my own position on climate legislation “The American Clean Energy and Security Act,” aka the Waxman-Markey bill (pros/cons via Worldchanging),Continue Reading

design for ongoing participation

Activism is all about taking action to bring about change. It is, ultimately, about disrupting the status quo. There are many ways to create the disruption, but when we start looking at how designers do it, one approach is to involve people in a process. It strikes me that “process” has a few different dimensions.Continue Reading

crosswalk memorial

An interesting Portugese campaign (via Osocio and social design notes) used crosswalk stripes made out of the names of pedestrians killed in car accidents to at once remember those lost as well as call attention to pedestrian safety. The curb message says,”One quarter of the victims of auto accidents are pedestrians.” Memorials and remembering theContinue Reading

part 3 of 3: card decks & social innovation

 Enabling Cards help pair seniors with young lodgers In this last part of the series on how designers are making use of card decks for social and environmental change, we look at a European case. Designers Francois Jegou and A. Bernagozzi collaborated with the Paris-based design school, Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs, on waysContinue ReadingContinue Reading