Little Brother is Watching. This billboard in Boston, is under attack for its political subject matter. challenges the Bush administration’s domestic wiretapping program. The Massachusetts state Outdoor Advertising Board officials sent the owner of the board, John Rosenthal, a letter stating, “You are directed to remove this billboard forthwith.” The Little Brother is Watching blog is open for comment. (via)
Little Brother is Watching
>  31 March 2006 | LINK | Filed in , , , , , ,
Bring Them Home Stamps. Valid, anti-war postage. For instance, for mailing your taxes.
Anti-war stamp
>  31 March 2006 | LINK | Filed in , , ,
Conveying Accountability through the Member’s Web Site. A short list of recommendations for members of Congress. The results of a survey (PDF) by the Congress Online Project, who also have advice on Transparency, Accountability and Grassroots Campaigns.
>  27 March 2006 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Is Design Political?

REDJennie Winhall, Senior Design Stategist at the UK Design Council’s RED research unit, has posted an excellent essay that summarizes a number of ways design is, in fact, political.

The essay addresses branding and propaganda, product labeling, advertising, design by grassroots campaigns, how ideology shapes the physical construction of our public institutions, and how the shape of our built environment in turn shapes our choices and behaviors.

It’s a great call to action.

One oddity, though, is that for its talk of politics, the RED project seems to steer clear of... actual legislation.

For instance, the RED Health project takes on the raging diabetes epidemic and concludes with the design of a grassroots fitness program and an improved interface with the National Health Service. This is totally great and much needed. But only addresses half of the equation.

What about the ready availability of cheap, high calorie junk food and soda? At what point does the Government step in and regulate toxic substances that are poisoning the public? RED sidesteps the issue. As a government funded organization, are they not allowed to propose regulation of industry? Or is it the Design Council’s close relationship with UK industries? A core mission of the Council is to improve UK products and industries through better design.

Beyond better product labeling, why not designers urging a ban on advertising junk food to children? Perhaps a public campaign (with nice graphic campaign materials) challenging the content of junk food itself? For instance, the legality of trans fat? Or agricultural subsidies of corn and sugar that make sweeteners ultra-cheap for food manufacturers?

RED does some amazing and important work. They are one of the few design think tanks researching and promoting design in the public interest in a very high profile way. But the discreet focus on projects and products seems to miss opportunities to leverage its special relationship with Parliament and to shape the policy and industries that shape our world.

>  14 March 2006 | LINK | Filed in ,
>  11 March 2006 | LINK | Filed in ,
Squatter Skate Park Becomes Official. Searching for fast disappearing skateboard space in Seattle, two activists took matters into their own hands and created a fully functioning park before the city caught on. (via)
>  9 March 2006 | LINK | Filed in , , Gov. Arnold says: public buildings must be 20 percent more energy efficient by 2015. It’s all in the State of California’s Green Building Action Plan (33KB PDF).
>  9 March 2006 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,
Compendium on E-government Innovative Practices. (300KB PDF) A mixed, global survey by UNPAN, December 2005.
>  3 March 2006 | LINK | Filed in ,
Call for Entries: Government Food. Style and photograph a U.S. Government Meal Packet to look as scrumptious as it could ever hope to be. The best photos will be incorporated into a 2007 calendar, sold to support The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition. Contact [email protected] for more info or to receive a Government Meal Packet (while supplies last.) The deadline is April 15. Photos will be posted here.
Government Food
>  28 February 2006 | LINK | Filed in
Death and Taxes. A visual analysis of the U.S. budget, circa 2003. (Update: BoingBoing reader notes significant error.)
Death and Taxes
>  27 February 2006 | LINK | Filed in

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