Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Designing for the Other 90%

This article is written by a member of our expert blogging community.

I have a channel through my U-Verse service that is called simply the Smithsonian channel.  It is a terrific channel and one I wonder how many people have an opportunity to tune into.  However, that is a totally different question.  They have many amazing programs—Aerial America, historical looks at England, China, and other places around the world, an examination of what happened to the Titanic that created the conditions for sinking (beyond the iceberg), and a very interesting segment entitled, Designing for the Other 90%.  I found this title intriguing.  I had questions:  Designing what?  Who are the 90%?  Who’s doing the designing?  How would designing for the 90% be different from designing for the 10%?  So I decided to tune in. 


"From Africa to South America to Asia, visionaries around the world show how good design can solve problems and create a better future - for 100% of us."

The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum was responsible for the segment which really focuses on living in a global environment.  The advertisement for the section states, Worldwide, billions of people have little access to things that many of us take for granted: shelter, food, clean water, transportation, and health care. But what they lack in resources, many make up for with determination and resourcefulness. This series, inspired by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum exhibition, takes a closer look at the ingenious ways that people are teaming up to find solutions to daunting urban problems. From Africa to South America to Asia, visionaries around the world show how good design can solve problems and create a better future - for 100% of us.”[1]  The piece then goes on to look at vertical solutions to house soccer and other athletic fields, promoting healthy eating by supporting small independent farmers who can take fresh produce to market, and figuring out how to provide safe drinking water for families as well as moving a massive workforce from one location to another.  These solutions require collaboration and innovation, determination, and the ability to inspire. These are skills that afterschool programming build on every day.  Who knows, one of your students may be the next inventor and innovator.  It’s time to embrace our place on the planet and our opportunity to lead the way.

How do you think we might do this?

Update: One of our favorite resources, Edutopia, in partnership with IDEO and Riverdale Country School, launched Design Thinking for Educators. The project encourages educators to embrace the idea that we are designing everyday, and that through this work, we are positioned to help - with kids - solve some of the world's biggest challenges. Stay tuned as our very own Aleah takes part in the course and tell us how you, as afterschool professionals, are designing for the betterment of all.

Check out the introductory video here:


[1] Smithsonian Channel.  Design With the Other 90%.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user juniperbug