As the micro-fellowship draws to a close, I’m sad that it ends so quickly. We decided to extend the project out of necessity, which I think was a great decision. This way, we are not rushing to have something completed by a timeline, as opposed to creating something the client-community really wants and needs. It allows space for more practicum and thinking. And given today’s technology, I can still work with Latent Design and Foundations College Prep school remotely. The lessons learned are many and will be compiled into my summary report. Although we did not complete the art installation at the given time frame, I would not call this a failure at all. In fact, it was a refresher about the importance of the process. In order to make this a true community engaged process, we need to encourage feedback at all points and design a process conducive to their engagement. Sometimes we forget that in the face of juggling schedules, clients and budgets.
Some of the successes were building a rapport with the school and students, even though our interactions with them were limited. Another success was the working relationship Katherine and I were able to establish, also on very short timeframe.
Going forward, we taking these challenges and turning them on their heads. We’re in the process of setting a date for a day of community volunteers to assist with construction process and will integrate the unveiling as part of the school’s end of year celebration.
As for myself, I am grateful for this opportunity not only to practice design skills, but because it threw me out of my element and therefore comfort zone. I realized that even though I can be vocal about the complacency I’ve been feeling in the planning field (which is what initially prompted to seek to incorporate design into my work), I too had fallen into habitual behavior.
Social Impact Design is exciting because it keeps you on your toes. You think with your heart first, not your head. You compel yourself to put yourself in other people’s shoes. You design an environment that they need, as opposed to what you want.
That’s the kind of mental and social space I needed. Not just for the members of Foundations College Prep, but also my heart and spirit.