Monday, February 18, 2008

Design for Social Change

In the last week or so, I've been talking with potential employers. Learning about new companies, discussing ways we can work together. I've also been talking to colleagues and friends about my "dream job". I'm fascinated by the response. My dream job these days involves something similar to strategy, systems and user research combined. It would involve a project like getting health information to rural Appalachia or Africa. Reworking a broken or not yet evolved system to help people in all parts of the world have access to the information they need, be it healthcare, technology, growing crops, etc.
The words being used lately are "design for social change". When I mention this to some folks they say, "yeah, nice pipe dream, good luck." But many, many others, espescially those kindred spirits here in Portland say, "Yes! I want to do that too!" So, why can't we? Why aren't we doing this work? Many of us (present company included) point to the almighty dollar. I need to pay my mortgage. Fair enough. But why can't I make a living and do something good for the planet and/or the people on it? Why do these things become mutually exclusive? Must you pull vast amounts of oil from the earth to make a living? I realize there are many options in between minimum wage and oil baron, but when looking to do the work or make the change, the options feel limited.
And yet, I am heartened, elated, thrilled to find so many like minded people, designers and otherwise. Surely, if there are enough of us out there, it is bound to happen. Hopefully, soon.

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