Beach-themed studio dance party to end the work week

Openbox principles for remote communication and engagement

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve learned a lot about transitioning inclusive research and community engagement to remote mediums. From one-on-one diary studies to fifty-person workshops, we’ve learned to find ways to make virtual meaningful, enriching, and well, real. Here are a few ways we shape virtual interactions into accessible, respectful, and joyful exchanges.

Make norms explicit

Each person uses a platform slightly differently, carrying with them different norms and expectations. In one project of ours, elderly participants misinterpreted delays in text responses from younger participants as a lack of interest and commitment. This is just one…


this project was made and launched in early June. It runs intermittently due to some issues with Twitter’s policies on reposting the same tweets.

The capacity to forget is a privilege. Forgetting is only possible when the lesson need not be learned. As non-black people, built into our privilege is the capacity to let police brutality against Black lives fade away. Videos are recorded, stories are told, and names are recited. And what of the names that were never written?

There is no complete list of the police killings of Black people in America. Given America’s history of violent erasure…


The East Village COVID-19 memorial. Vandalized twice already, but still standing. Ave A and 10th, April 20, 2020

Every day when I walk my dog to Tompkins Square Park, we are first greeted by this memorial, updated daily; a constant reminder of both the global and local challenge of COVID-19.

While perhaps some of it might have been unstoppable, the scale and scope of the current global pandemic, and certainly its impact in the United States is a painful indictment of many public institutions. It is a systems failure that needs a community response. It’s certainly not the fault of any single citizen, but it’s taking all of us, and then some, to pull through.


Designers spend a lot of time being ‘not sure yet’ about things they consider to be very important. A group of us have arrived together at an important hunch, which we are now chasing. Here is our current thinking. See if some of these speculations resonate, and let us know what you think too.

> An endeavor to move designers from systems thinking to systems sensing, and to cultivate compassion: a capacity to hold human paradoxes with care and without judgement.

This definition is derived from the work of the Society for Organizational Learning, the Centre for Systems Awareness at MIT, and the work of Peter Senge. And here we apply that definition of compassion to design.

> An embrace of the reflexivity inherent in contemporary design practice, and the development of a corresponding designerly skill.

Compassion is a necessary component of design. It extends further…


This picture drives at the operating logic of our work. There are all these opportunities for community, yet our focus is so limited. What might be revealed if we took a more expansive and inclusive view of civic participation?

Approaching civic engagement

What are our models for civic engagement and how do they relate current civic practices? There is a story, voiced as recently as in Jill Lepore’s 2018 view of American history to the present day, that American society, has turned inward or lost some characteristic of community. She discusses, in her analysis of the 2016 election, the erosion of engagement in…


“Just go in any direction outside of Coatesville and you’ll be fine”

Situated in Pennslvania’s highest income county, Chester County, along a portion of US Route 30, thirteen thousand residents make up the community of Coatesville. First settled as a fur trading outpost between local First Nations tribes and colonial settlers, and later developed as a steel town in the early 1900s, Coatesville was once called the “Pittsburgh of the East”. Today, Coatesville is a study in contrast, and an all-too-familiar American story.

While Chester County is the state’s wealthiest, the median income in Coatesville is three times lower than the rest of the county, with over 20 percent of the population…

vinay kumar mysore

designer, researcher, writer /// civics, strategy, design

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