DESIGN-RELATED SOCIAL INNOVATION
The theme of Doors 8 is “Infra: platforms for social innovation and how to design them”. Yes, it’s a broad canvas. One purpose of the following list of adjacent organisations and projects is to remind ourselves of the need to focus on design challenges that are not already being tackled by someone else. A second purpose is to provoke you to tell us of other organisations that we have missed: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: inclusion here does not signify approval - or disapproval - by Doors of Perception.
A project to design a practical framework to help businesses and institutions learn to think beyond the traditional cycle of consumption and disposal. “With producer responsibility and resource efficiency high on national and international agendas, no sector of industry or government can afford to ignore the implications of an efficiency revolution that is developing into a world trend”
Adbusters is a 120,000-circulation magazine concerned about the erosion of our physical and cultural environments by commercial forces. ”We are a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age. Our aim is to topple existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we will live in the 21st century.”
ARCHITECTURE FOR HUMANITY (USA)
Founded in 1999 to promote architectural and design solutions to global, social and humanitarian crises. Architecture for Humanity “creates opportunities for architects and designers from around the world to help communities in need. We believe that where resources and expertise are scarce, innovative, sustainable and collaborative design can make a difference”. Past initiatives include two international design competitions: Outreach: Design Ideas for Mobile Health Clinic to Combat HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa (2001-2004) and Transitional Housing for Kosovo's Returning Refugees (1999-2000).Cameron Sinclair, their director, is coming to Doors 8.
The name sounds vaguely African, but Ashoka was founded in 1980 by a New Yorker, Bill Drayton. It's a global organization that "searches the world for social entrepreneurs and identifies and invests in these social entrepreneurs when no one else will". Stipends allow Ashoka Fellows to focus full time on their ideas for leading social change in education and youth development, health care, environment, human rights, access to technology and economic development.
BOLO BOLO (SWITZERLAND)
A book (and website) that asks, 'How would I really like to live?’. Bolo Bolo tries to picture all this not in a remote future (“reformists always like to talk about the 'next generation'”) but in our own lifetimes "while we're still in pretty good shape, let's say within the next five years...”. The book's author, styled only as 'p.m.', discusses constituent elements of a human-scale utopia. The stress is on cultural diversity within a network of autonomous neighborhoods. “The real wealth of the 'bolos' is not financial but lies in their cultural wealth, their diverse spiritual and material potential"
CHANGING PLACES (UK)
This BBC television series tells “extraordinary stories of ordinary people who are changing the place where they live, so creating new lives for themselves and those around them”. A useful series of fact sheets provides summary information. The best stories range from city farms to ‘planning for rust’, a project to clean up old steel mills and coal mines.
CKS is a research and design practice that works in the area of media and technology. It uses variety of innovative social research tools to understand user behavior, user preferences, user needs and user practices, and reroutes this information into a design process. CKS develops insights that help developers to fine tune and optimize existing technology, media services or communications services, or to conceptualize new technology configurations. CKS clients are technology houses and service networks that are increasingly catering to the needs of first-time users of technology. With offices in Bangalore and New Delhi, CKS is co-producing Doors 8 Infra; the team coproduced Doors East 2003, in Bangalore. http://www.ict4d.info
THE COMMONS (PARIS)
“A wide open, independent first-stop-shop on the web for concerned citizens, researchers, students, policy makers, entrepreneurs, investors or social activists interested in quickly getting a feel for world sustainability issues, views and developments from an unbiased critical perspective". Organised by Ecoplan, The Commons supports open discussion, information sharing, diversity, complex thinking and collaborative initiatives for action.
Demos is "a greenhouse for new ideas which can improve the quality of our lives. As an independent think-tank, our aim is to create an open resource of knowledge and learning that operates beyond traditional parties, identities and disciplines".
A portal to dozens of European foresight and futures studies in the enlarged Europe - especially those concerned with the notion of an information society.
FORUM FOR THE FUTURE (UK)
The UK’s leading sustainable development charity takes "a positive solutions-oriented approach". It was founded in 1996 by environmentalists Jonathon Porritt, Sara Parkin and Paul Ekins out of a conviction that many of the solutions needed to defuse the environmental crisis and build a more sustainable society are already to hand. “We aim for nothing less than transformation - irreversible change”
Geek corps promotes economic growth in the developing world by sending skilled technology volunteers to teach communities how use information and communication technologies to solve development problems. Their world maps has pins in it for Armenia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Mongolia.
GLOBAL IDEAS BANK (UK)
Online since 1995, the Global Ideas Bank is a not-for-profit website that is “part suggestion box, part networking tool, part democratic think-tank and part inspirational entertainment”. The Institute produces an annual compendium, runs social inventions workshops, and promotes creative solutions around the world. The Global Ideas Bank contains nearly 4000 social inventions.
GLOBAL SOCIAL VENTURE COMPETITION
A partnership that “brings together the academic and financial worlds to support the creation of social ventures with financial and social returns on investment”.The Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) began in 1999 as a student-led initiative at the Haas School of Business. Today, GSVC involves the Haas School of Business, Columbia Business School, London Business School, and The Goldman Sachs Foundation.
HONEYBEE NETWORK (INDIA)
A “newsletter of creativity and innovation at the grassroots” linked to a database containing more than 10,000 examples of contemporary innovations and outstanding examples of traditional local knowledge. Partners with GIAN, India’s first technology business incubator which focuses on commercialising grassroots innovations. Conceived by Anul Gupta at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, India.
INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH (UK)
IPPR, which says it is “the UK's leading progressive think tank”, leads a project called Manifesto for a Digital Britain whose task is “to define a progressive political agenda for the implementation and regulation of digital technology”.
MASSIVE CHANGE (CANADA)
“Design has emerged as one of the world's most powerful forces. It has placed us at the beginning of a new, unprecedented period of human possibility, where all economies and ecologies are becoming global, relational, and interconnected. In order to understand and harness these emerging forces, there is an urgent need to articulate precisely what we are doing to ourselves and to our world”. This is the ambition of Bruce Mau's exhibition, book, and website, Massive Change, which opened last October in Vancouver.
NEW ECONOMICS FOUNDATION (UK)
NEF is an independent think-and-do tank that aims “to increase individual and social well being and to enable citizens to create their own futures and collective solutions. We are underpinning these goals with our local works campaign, and new ways of measuring progress, alongside practical initiatives which reconnect people, like time banks. We particularly focus on innovative approaches to the relationship between the individual and the state through our people in public services programme”.
NEXT DESIGN INSTITUTE (USA)
NextDesign Leadership Institute was founded by GK VanPatter and Elizabeth Pastor, principles of Humantific / ex of Scient's Innovation Lab. NextD was created for the purpose of helping design educators and practicing professionals around the world "prepare to meet the challenges of cross-disciplinary design and innovation leadership in the 21st century". The site proclaims, "Lead The Journey" and goes on: "With a new design context universe emerging, the traditional model of design leadership has become a burning platform. What will the future of design leadership look like? What are the attributes of a NextD Leader?"
Set up by Pierre and Pam Omidyar, co-founers of eBay, Omidyar’s purpose remains a tad - er - opaque at this early stage: “We exist for one single purpose: So that more and more people discover their own power to make good things happen”. Hmmm. Everyone is unbelievably sweet to each other on the discussion boards. But Omadyar’s network contains good guy organisations: Apache Software Foundation, Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Grameen Foundation, and others. So once they get down to business – whatever that’s to be – it should do some good.
SCHWAB FOUNDATION FOR SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP (USA)
“A global platform to promote social entrepreneurship as a key element to advance societies and address social problems in an innovative and effective manner”. The foundation plans to "build a global community of outstanding social entrepreneurs, leveraging successes of social entrepreneurs to achieve wider impact for the public good.
SHOULD EXIST (USA)
“Good ideas are easy to come by. There are plenty to go around. The difficult part is actually implementing”. ShouldExist seeks "answers to the good questions. What's wrong with our world? How can we make it better? Who would know best how to do this? Who is working on something similar?”
SOCIAL COMPUTING RESEARCHERS AND LABS (USA)
Compiled by Microsoft researchers, this is a useful wiki-directory (so you can amend or add to it) of researchers interested in social computing topics.The second link is to industry research labs.
SOCIAL ISSUES RESEARCH CENTRE (UK)
An independent, non-profit organization founded "to conduct research on social and lifestyle issues, monitor and assess global sociocultural trends and provide new insights on human behaviour and social relations"
SOCIAL SOFTWARE HISTORY (USA)
Social software has become a fully-fledged boom thanks in large part of the attention paid to it by myriad blogs. This helpful site reminds us that the core ideas of social software date back to Vannevar Bush's ideas about 'memex' in 1945. The briefing also explains adjacent terms such as Augmentation, Groupware, and Computer Supported Collaborative Work.
“Spark! Design and Locality” is the book of a pan-European project that explored new roles for design in planning the future of communities. Designers and artists, together with citizens, politicians and administrators, developed culturally, socially and economically sustainable solutions for five communities in different parts of Europe. The Spark! project was supported by the Culture 2000 programme in co-operation with Doors of Perception.
STANFORD CENTER FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION (USA)
Stanford Graduate School of Business created the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) “ to invest its intellectual resources in a society confronted by profound needs and complex problems. CSI promotes solutions through a unique combination of interdisciplinary research, teaching that extends beyond the classroom, and efforts to engage with those who lead social change.
STANFORD SOCIAL INNOVATION REVIEW (USA)
Presents the best ideas in nonprofit management, philanthropy and corporate citizenship. "Find out what works and what doesn't. And how to strengthen your social impact".
SustainAbility is the longest established international consultancy specializing in business strategy and sustainable development, environmental improvement, social equity and economic development. SustainAbility is "a hybrid organization: part strategic management consultancy, part world-class think-tank, and part energetic public interest group".
SUSTAINABLE EVERYDAY (ITALY)
Ezio Manzini and Francois Jègou created an exhibition (and this book) for Milano Trennale: "Sustainable Everyday: A Catalogue of Promising Solutions".,
ThinkCycle supports "distributed collaboration towards design challenges facing underserved communities and the environment”. ThinkCycle seeks to create a culture of open source design innovation, with ongoing collaboration among individuals, communities and organizations around the world. (The site seems to have stopped developing at the time of writing February 2005; it’s possible that, because it was driven by MIT MediaLab students, they have left and the project is in abeyance. Please correct us if we're wrong).
“The definitive, modern, yet green lifestyle filter. It will help you improve your course, yet still maintain your aesthetic”.
"The central issue as the new millennium dawns is technocultural. The world needs a new, unnatural, seductive, mediated, glamorous Green - a Viridian Green, if you will”. Bruce Sterling, “Pope Emperor of the Viridians”, has sent forth no fewer than 430 newsletters at the time of writing.
Fast-growing WorldChanging.com is about “Models, Tools, and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future”. It works from a simple premise: that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us. "Plenty of people are working on tools for change, but the fields in which they work remain unconnected. Another world is not just possible, it's here. We only need to put the pieces together”. Edited by Jamais Cascio (San Francisco) and Alex Steffen (Seattle)
who is coming to Doors 8.
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM (INDIA, BRAZIL...)
The World Social Forum is "not an organisation, not a united front platform, but…an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and inter-linking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neo- liberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism, and are committed to building a society centred on the human person". A report of the 2004 meeting is online here.
YOUNG FOUNDATION (UK)
Formerly the Institute for Community Studies, The Young Foundation is an "urban research laboratory for London, using London and Londoners as its research material". Its director (since late 2004) is Geoff Mulgan, until recently Head of Policy in Tony Blair’s office and director of the UK Government's Strategy Unit. Mulgan was previously the founder and director of Demos, and has worked in local government, investment and telecommunications, as well as having authored many books.