26 Well Designed Websites that Help Haiti. Maps and large photos of suffering children are a frequent motif, but the sites do present a modest range of development approaches. I’m also interested in what’s happening at CrisisCommons, rapidly developing open source community technology projects for humanitarian relief.

Update 3/21/2010: the open source project Ushahidi has had some good press lately about its role in the Hatian and Chilean earthquake relief efforts, mapping the crisis and response with text-messages.
>  25 January 2010 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Grazie Amici


After six years of publication, SocialDesignZine is shutting down. The blog on social design was set up inspire and provoke a discussion among Italian designer and beyond.

The founders maintained an aggressive publication schedule (nearly daily!), hosted offline typographic tours, published two beautiful books of selected posts and comments, an exhibition, and a publication on civic branding and design culminating in the Più Design Può conference in May 2009. Unfortunately, though the SDZ site receives a good amount of traffic, an active community of commenters never really materialized and the daily maintenance had become increasingly difficult to sustain. Still, it’s a high note to end on.

I had the great pleasure of meeting the site’s publishers Gianni Sinni and Andrea Rauch at the conference in Florence and was impressed with the depth of their politics and the ease at which they integrated their civic commitment with their studio practice. Now that they are free of the daily publication schedule, I look forward to seeing what new endeavors they develop. Grazie a Andrea e Gianni.

>  28 December 2009 | LINK | Filed in ,
50 Serious Games for Social Change. lu.pngComputer games designed to teach about social issues like public health, the environment, human rights and poverty. A very mixed bag here, but an interesting, emerging space to watch. (via)
>  23 October 2009 | LINK | Filed in , , ,
Publishers with a Purpose. “A group of online publishers who have pledged 5% of their total ad inventory to selected nonprofits and social causes, with the shared goal of making a difference in our neighborhoods and around the world by grouping together.” Some big, independent blog networks are doing this.
>  16 October 2009 | LINK | Filed in , ,
Designer Be Good. Print magazine hosts a live webcast this Thursday about creating positive change in the world. Daniel Schutzsmith will talk about tools, trends, positioning at the intersection of philanthropy, design, and social media.
>  25 August 2009 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Neo Gardenism

At the intersection of urbanism, DIY, food justice and sustainable agriculture, a crop of artists are making open source gardens and sharing instructions on the web and beyond.

Window Gardens Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray build hydroponic Window Farms from recycled materials. The farms are specifically designed with New York City apartments in mind, and the website invites window gardeners to share photos, plans, designs and information.

Edible Estates is a project to convert the classic American front lawn into a productive vegetable garden. Initiated by architect and artist Fritz Haeg on Independence Day, 2005, several prototype gardens were created in different cities across the United States, with instructions and documentation of the prototype gardens posted to the site. 2009 sites have not been announced, but the group is ideally looking for “A monotonous housing development of identical homes... where the interruption of the endless lawn would be dramatic and controversial.”

The Future Farmers’ Victory Gardens project is fought on two fronts: to deliver urban garden kits to urban farmers across San Francisco, and to ultimately develop and maintain a portion of the original Victory Garden space in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

South Central Farmers The Garden is a feature-length documentary film about a 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles that emerged in the wake of the 1992 LA riots. The film chronicles the origins of the plot and the South Central Farmers struggle to prevent it from being demolished.

On the more underground tip, Guerilla Gardening is illicit, nocturnal gardening in a space not your own. guerrillagardening.org lists projects, mostly in London, each with a description, location, photos, and budget. The site includes tips for making your own.

Seed Bomb

Seed bombing is packing seeds in compressed soil and throwing it into inhospitable or hard to reach places. Artist Liz Christy was the first to use the term in 1973 when she fought urban decay by tossing seed grenades full of sunflower seeds into abandoned New York City lots. Here’s a scan of her original instruction sheet. Christy also co-founded the first community garden in New York City.

Moss Graffiti Moss graffiti is also good for damp, urban corners. Anna Garforth has done some beautiful work here. Here’s how to make your own.

And onto Gardening 2.0: Landshare is a UK website matching people who want to grown their own food with homeowners with underused space. The site also hosts an active forum for sharing tips and answering questions.

And with your veggies in hand, VeggieTrader is a website for trade, buy or sell homegrown produce.

I’m sure there are many more sites and projects, too. Between the recession and growing concern about industrial food systems, there seems to be something of a renaissance going on here.

>  15 June 2009 | LINK | Filed in , , , , ,
Add-Art. “Add-Art is a free FireFox add-on which replaces advertising on websites with curated art images. The art shows are updated every two weeks and feature contemporary artists and curators.”
Ad Art NY Times
>  19 February 2009 | LINK | Filed in ,
Change Observer. The Rockefeller Foundation has granted $1.5 million to the Winterhouse Institute to fund a two year project to promote “collective action and collaboration for social impact across the design industry — and encompassing a range of other institutions that work on the needs of poor or vulnerable people.” Projects include a conference, website, and matching designers with foundations and NGOs. Two veteran design journalists have been recruited thus far. Last year, Rockefeller hired the design company IDEO to draft a workbook and guide on design for social impact.
>  11 February 2009 | LINK | Filed in ,
Low- and No-Cost Online Advocacy Tools. The Tactical Tech Collective has put up a brief guide for non-profit organizations listing out a collection of popular web services that can be used for advocacy quickly with little to no technical support and at low- to no-cost. The guide is organized as follows: A few good case studies in there, too.
>  10 February 2009 | LINK | Filed in ,
Micro Fundraising on Twitter. Tweet“Little gifts - and lots of them - are the holy grail.” Some interesting links and case studies for non-profit organizations.
>  29 January 2009 | LINK | Filed in , ,

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