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Ideas in Action: Conversations in Community Design in Review

Over the course of their spring 2020 Designer In Residence at DSI, Sloan Leo of The Vaid Group has generously shared their network of practitioners in the social innovation sphere via a series of public lectures. Produced by Sloan’s own design collective, FLOX, these talks have covered an array of topics centered on a common theme, Conversations on Community Design, and have featured guests from a range of organizations.

The first of these lectures, Can We Care Together? took place in the DSI space on February 26th and was co-led by our chair, Miya Osaki. The lecture highlighted the importance of prioritizing health, care and wellbeing in social design, introducing healing justice as a framework to help inform a public understanding of collective care.

In response to social distancing, the lectures quickly shifted online. The series resumed on March 12th with Designing for Democracy with Keesha Gaskins-Nathan, the Director of Democratic Practice at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. This conversation explored the role of designers in creating and enabling conditions for democracy, and was contextualized in the current pandemic. Together, Sloan and Keesha highlighted the potential of effective democracy in shifting the role of government to better serve constituents in times of crisis and otherwise.

On April 9th, Sloan was joined by Urvashi Vaid, founder and CEO of the Vaid Group, and Solidaire’s executive director Rajasvini Bhansali for the third part of the series: The Privilege of the Margins. This conversation reframed our values and commitments to social justice in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, and how they will shift because of it. The talk aptly highlighted the needs of our most vulnerable communities across history are now at the forefront of change. Urvashi phrased it excellently when she said: “It’s all about perspective–what is marginal and what is central? I think this crisis is showing us that policies and ideas that have always been relegated to out-in-left-field, crazy ideas that’ll never happen, are actually central to the solutions that we need for equity, for climate justice, for racial justice.”

Check out these insightful conversations that delve into community design on our Vimeo.

Please join us on Thursday, April 30 at 3:15 PM EST for the exciting final conversation of the Ideas in Action series: Reflections on Sharing with Wikimedia CEO Katherine Maher. Sloan and Katherine will discuss the ways we as a society can build capacities to effectively exchange not just information, but also ideas and insights across digital and analog spaces.

In a time where we are mostly functioning online for the foreseeable future, you won’t want to miss this one!

Please RSVP to the lecture here.

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