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Social Design Cares

Before researching an issue or a problem, I like to brainstorm a strategy to conduct my research and to later design. This project was a university project my team and I created as part of a medical design scholarship while in New Zealand where there are no shortage of health issues relating to lower income communities. It's not so much a precedent for a design intervention to help women's safety, more a precedent on how to design socially which can be applied to any sort of problem or intervention. It's simple as the focus was on explaining it to young people so that they could grasp the concept and then engage in solving issues in their own communities, the communities which they were about to inherit and design for themselves.

Photo of Deborah Paterson
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SocialDesignCares.com was inspired by the desire of young people to help shape the world they were about to inherit, but never being given the opportunity to do so or be taken seriously. The idea was to build a platform which was designed especially to empower young people to submit ideas to the most pressing issues in their communities and allow them to engage in the social design process. If social design also involves social research, then the question raised here is how can we create places where young people are comfortable speaking out about their ideas and how can we integrate them into our social design processes.

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Great video, Deborah! Do you have examples of this approach being used on the back of creating this video? What were some of the challenges and learnings? Excited to learn more about these ideals in action!

Photo of Deborah Paterson

Hi Meena, thanks :) You can check out the website www.socialdesigncares.com. Have a look under ENGAGE for more details on the process we outlined and then under EMPOWER there are a couple of examples of design problems that we wanted to get young people involved with. This site is just a prototype, but the university is in the process of designing a whole degree around Social Design Innovation as part of their new design degrees that are collaborating with different areas like business, medicine, social science etc. A lot what we learned was about how to communicate and invite people in order for them to feel like they are worthy of contributing to changes in their communities. We also discovered a lot about Pacific health issues and the social ideas which are causing them.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great stuff. What were some the challenges around community engagement? How did you get around them? I think this is a really interesting area for our community hear about – because as you know – community engagement can be harder than it sounds than in the video :^) We think it's really great for folks doing work with communities to share what they've learnt about overcoming challenges here on OpenIDEO – so we can all get better, together. And it's so great to have folks like you join us to that end.

Sideline – thought you might dig this co-creation campaign I worked on a while back, here in NZ: http://www.randomspecific.com/twitter-hip-hop-smoke-freestyle

Photo of Meena Kadri

Ad what university hosts the site (and is planning the degree in Social Design Innovation)? Is it in New Zealand? hat's pretty exciting for us down here if it is!

Photo of Deborah Paterson

VUW is planning it as a result of our scholarship project. See the COLLABORATE page for those involved including sponsors. Yeah it's definitely hard, we didn't actually have time in our project to do this, but it's part of the model I am still building and the university is doing this firstly by integrating it into their curriculum and hopefully in the future they will be able to include young people who aren't engaging with higher education.

Love the campaign, very youth relevant! I think a lot of it comes down to coming down to their level and creating the opposite of the 'father-son' authority type relationship which is so common with designers and the community. There are many ways to do this, including designing with them in their environment, rather than taking them out of it. let them be the tour guide and you the tourist, is what I like to say. . .

Photo of Meena Kadri

Love your tour guide analogy! And agreed – designers and others need to drop the 'expert', gate-keeper of knowledge & skills, paternal carry on :^)