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Alyson Fraser Diaz talks Allied Media Conference & Hue Design Summit

Though the virtual space has its limitations, being able to attend two design events from across the country in one weekend is a definite positive! This past week, second-year Alyson Fraser Diaz was able to attend both the Hue Design Summit and annual Allied Media Conference, and was kind enough to share her reflections on both conferences with the team at DSI. Read on for more: 

Hue Design Summit is a two-day summit for Black designers and developers with topics ranging from UX to Hand Lettering. We had the honor of hearing from Cheryl D. Miller, who spoke about the lack of diversity in the design field over 30 years ago with a piece titled “Black Designers: Missing in Action” as she shared her advice for making a career as a Black designer in a historically exclusive field. We also learned about pricing as a designer and entrepreneur (which was the motivation I sincerely needed as a freelancer to reassess my pricing model)!

My favorite session (of course!) was the Inclusion Design Workshop led by Nick Phillips & Sergio Marquina, Co-Founders of Studio 2133. They talked about social design basics, how to co-design, and the issues that come up when inclusion is not considered in the design process. One of my favorite quotes from them was: “the average person does not exist, therefore when you design for the ‘average person’ you design for no one”. Another quote that I know Miya will appreciate as it relates to our Communications class: “prototypes aren’t the end goal, prototypes are for learning.” We even did a collaborative brainstorming activity where we looked at how to redesign common experiences. My group got the fast food kiosks (pictured above). 

This activity was fun for me because it was like a mini DSI exercise, for many people this was the first time designing for inclusion has been considered. It really brought to focus for me how necessary this teaching is in all design programs not just for those of us lucky enough to study Design for Social Innovation. 

I also signed up for a few sessions at Allied Media Conference (AMC) which is a conference that focuses on Media Based Organizing. I first heard about the Allied Media Conference through our partner in Communication class, the Design Justice Network (DJN). DJN Was hoping for us to be a part of their session to share the work we did in our time together but the change in circumstances and transition to virtual did not allow for that. Even though we were not participating, I was still very excited to attend the conference and learn from the amazing community organizers, designers, and artists.

I attended two sessions: ”Poetry as Visionary Resistance” and “From Dreams to Practice: Abolition in our Lifetimes”. “Poetry for Visionary Resistance” was a really beautiful workshop where we heard from people with multidisciplinary media practices and how they use their art form to shift narratives and move social change forward. Neta Bomani was one of the people on the panel and is one of my favorite creatives right now. It was cool to see how Neta combines art, facilitation, and community organizing to produce zines and other designed materials. Joy Buolamwini, is a computer scientist or “poet of code” as she calls herself. She shared her work on how she is addressing algorithmic bias. Joy’s work has been brought up a few times at DSI so it was great to hear from her and learn more about her practice. You can see her full Ted talk about algorithmic bias here.

“From Dreams to Practice: Abolition in our Lifetimes”, was all about restorative justice, transformative justice and building practices that support people who are harmed outside of the tradition policing system. A portion of the talk focused on how this benefits domestic violence victims and ways practices can support survivors. My favorite quote was by Mariame Kaba, who advocates for the abolition of the prison industrial complex. She shared: “survivors have a kaleidoscopic vision of what justice might be.” This was a great reminder to me as I begin my thesis work on supporting survivors of sexual violence.

This weekend for me was really a revealing of two different directions for design and the practices we learn at DSI. The Hue Design Summit focused more on product design, UX design, and corporate design, while Allied Media Conference focused more on designing with community, creating new futures, and organizing change.  It was great to see these two contrasting fields with some similar underlying messages about seeing “users” or community members as multifaceted people with a variety of different needs. The Inclusion design workshop at Hue made me hopeful that a new era is coming where the practices ingrained in community organizing and exhibited at AMC, like listening to community needs, and following the lead of the most marginalized, will soon be prioritized in the field of traditional design. Overall I learned a lot from both conferences and have more clarity of my goals for practicing design in the future.

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