Blog 9 – Design Activism

Tim Brown’s reading opened my eyes to think about sustainability in third world countries. In the U.S. we have plenty of resources to repair and replace broken items, but individuals in other places don’t have that luxury. My favorite topic was the gardens in the schoolyard-teaching children where food comes from. It gives a person a sense of purpose to tend to something on a regular basis and the outcome is delicious food. For my studio project this semester we are incorporating gardens to give the older adults an activity as well as having their vegetables and fruits served to them during meals.


To me, design activism is similar to universal design where the intent is to accommodate and include all kinds of people. I think it’s important to apply it to many designs, especially for individuals that want to age in place. Although design activism can be applied to situations outside of the interior design field, including universal primary education and eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, some of life’s most basic rights. It differs from active design because design activism focuses on balancing the distribution of resources.


When I worked in a furniture store people would start their search with a budget rather than looking for a piece that fit their needs showing natural capital. If people looked for furniture as something they are planning to have for a very long time they would have a better connection to it as well as making better judgment about what they are getting. When you truly find something you like you take better care of it and replace broken parts rather than the entire piece of furniture. I’d like to build a very sturdy and durable sofa frame and have the opportunity to get it reupholstered when needed rather than replacing the whole things.


I have recently watched a documentary about the children suffering from poverty in the United States. It followed different families journey from parents not being able to find work to the families eventually having to resort to the homeless shelter. Most of these families lived poor areas resulting in a lot of crime and dangerous individuals being in the same areas as children in homeless shelters. Something I didn’t realize was how much school these children are losing. How are these children supposed to thrive better than their parents if they cannot even attend the 3rd grade regularly? My roommate teaches at an elementary school in Stillwater and she comes how with heartbreaking stories about children going through so much more than they should because their family can’t take care of them. I think a way to help reduce children missing school because of poverty is finding them help in the school community, maybe classmates parents, to make sure they have a ride to school every morning, breakfast, and a location to do their homework after school.


The sustainable Halloween party concept my learning community came up with was a No-Waste Halloween. People would bring their own cup, which can be decorated to avoid them getting mixed up and they can refill it during the party. Finger food would be included to reduce waste as well. For costumes our idea was to use something already in your closet as well as incorporating nature into the costume. To reduce electricity fire pits would be placed around the yard providing heat and light.


The AATCC lecture was really interesting to me. I thought I was buying sustainable brands but to hear that a company was dumping toxic chemicals into the river in the middle of the night and still called themselves sustainable was surprising to me. It reminds me of Volkswagen getting in trouble about lying about their carbon emissions in their diesel vehicles. We should all be working together to repair our environment; we shouldn’t be lying about it to cover our tracks. I imagine there are hundreds of people out there that would love to help brands take sustainable steps forward.

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