For the good

Global Design

The Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting took place a week ago in New York, bringing together world leaders, huge companies, and NGO’s, to help solve global issues. The theme of this year’s meeting – “Designing for Impact” – urged all to see the world’s problems from a design perspective, iterating quickly and effectively to address issues like lack of proper sewage and access to clean drinking water. As Clinton stated at the exciting conference, “Today we want to talk about how you can design your actions in advance to make it more likely they will succeed.”

Paths of Leaves

A lovely, subtle ad creates a big impact in this outdoor campaign for the China Environmental Protection Foundation. As a nod to recognize the environmental benefits of walking vs driving, a white canvas with a bare tree was laid across a crosswalk in China. An “inkpad” of green paint was placed at the sidewalk edge, so that as pedestrians crossed they imprinted the tree with sole prints of green leaves.

Creativity Spark

A group of Stanford University students are trekking across the country this summer and fall, teaching kids the fundamentals of making stuff from a truck filled with fun tools and toys. The Spark Truck started as a Kickstarter project, and is now fullfilling its promise, traveling to libraries, schools, hospitals, and events across the US, and hosting creative making sessions with kids along the way. The truck is outfitted with rapid prototypers, laser cutters, sewing machines, and good old tools, teaching kids how to make and form their own designs. Check out the schedule here.

Solar India

Following India’s widespread grid blackout last month, attention has been drawn towards the potential of solar energy for the country. There are currently a number of projects underway in the country, including a rooftop solar panel enterprise that shares revenues from power sales with the building owner, and micro-grid services in rural villages begun by start-up company Mera Gao Power. Other innovative solutions include selling solar through a pay-as-you-go system, solar lanterns and the tried-and-true method of using mirrors to concentrate sunshine onto water, producing steam for cooking.

(Via Gigaom)

Good Food Business

A new San Francisco accelerator program is helping small, local food entrepreneurs get off their feet and into the markets. Local Food Lab provides mentorship, support, advice, and resources to people looking to sell their own pickles, jam, sausages – you name it. They take students through a six-week program  of writing a business plan, pitching investors, and building their networks.

(Image via Drawn Butter)

Fold and Drive

The Hiriko Fold is an ultra-compact city car that folds upright, allowing three Hirikos to fit into one standard parking space. The two-seater vehicle is equipped with zero-turn radius wheels, helping it to move sideways for easier parallel parking. It was created by DENOKINN and MIT’s Changing Places group as a response to tight urban space and pollution. Of course, its also an eco-friendly electric vehicle, running on a lithium-ion battery to cover a distance of around 75 miles between charges.

Environmental Excellence

In their latest issue, Sierra magazine has released a list of the ten most environentally-friendly universities in America, with University of California ranked as number one. Sustainability initiatives include: LEED buildings, campus community gardens, composting facilities, campus cycling and renewable energy. The magazine’s editor-in-chief said, “With their ever growing emphasis on environmental responsibility, these schools are channeling the enthusiasm of their students, who consistently cite climate disruption and other environmental issues as the most serious challenges their generation must confront…”

Ancient Wake Up Call

Caffeine has been an essential part of life in the Americas – for even longer than you’d think. A recent study found residue of a coffee or chocolate-like substance (but different from both), in 900-year-old mug-like containers. The cups are thought to be from Cahokia, a large metropolis around 1050 CE that would have been located around St Louis, Missouri. That morning cup of coffee might be a time-honored tradition.

Education Through Design

In 2007, a group of game designers in New York City founded Institute of Play, a not-for-profit design studio with the aims of pioneering new models of learning and engagement. 2 years later, the studio opened Quest to Learn, a public school organized around principles of game design and play. The school immerses students in challenge-based contexts and acknowledges design, collaboration, and systems thinking as key literacies of the 21st century, and scored an impressive ninety seven percentile for student engagement.

Timeless Skills

While we delve head-long into an ever-shortening world of abbreviations, acronyms, and short-cuts, it was nice to see this great piece in the NYTimes on “How to Write.” Author Colson Whitehead reminded us of the practice and skill – and enduring importance – of the ability to write, and write well.

(Image via NYTimes)


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