Why Social Change Needs to Be More Social Why Social Change Needs to Be More Social
Why Social Change Needs to Be More Social
This post is part of a series from students in the Master of Arts in Social Design program at Maryland Institute College of Art, which focuses on how design can reimagine solutions to world challenges. For the next eight weeks, MASD students will each share part of their personal thesis journey. Follow the series at good.is/MASD.
From incubators and makerspaces to nonprofits and social enterprises, the energy surrounding social innovation is contagious, but as this ecosystem grows, social change entities become disconnected and often work in silos. Conferences like TEDx attract hundreds of people and connections are made, but the consolidation of brain-power, energy, talent, and resources isn’t permanent enough to create long-term efficiency and large-scale change.
Coworking spaces are specifically designed to inspire, connect, and enable individuals to realize entrepreneurial ideas, but how could this model be pushed further? How could the innovative work within these walls be shared with the public? How could untapped social capital within the public be leveraged, and how could collaborative innovators be connected to more resources?
In my thesis, I’m exploring a solution that involves a social space everyone has a relationship with: the restaurant and bar. Why? Because social change needs to be social.
People have gathered in these spaces for centuries to eat, drink, interact, ideate, and innovate. Restaurants naturally attract an eclectic mix of contributors to social change: business leaders, teachers, lawyers, political figures, and other community members. Why not elevate the productivity and purpose of this space so that organic collaboration can be fostered?
My thesis explores what a joint narrative between a restaurant and bar, coworking space, and makerspace could look like in the Baltimore ecosystem. I’m working with a group of local entrepreneurs to design this space, and each represents a different part of this equation. We’re also fortunate to have an expert design-thinker and facilitator from Gensler working with us. She’s lived in Baltimore seven years and her perspective has been critical in helping each stakeholder explore the potential of a blended narrative.
The concept allows entrepreneurs to work in the same space as makers, and more importantly, allows social change work and impact to be made visible to the public, offering greater exposure to social capital, greater transparency with the community, and greater opportunity for partnership and efficiency.
The restaurant and bar space will inform stakeholders about local initiatives, connect grant-makers to projects that need funding, bring together siloed organizations, and showcase local and global impact through visual communication and design.
I see social design playing a role in three distinct ways: facilitation, analysis, and visual communication. In using these three assets, perhaps we can reimagine the coworking model and transform the way we approach social change. As a part of this new team I hope to incorporate some of the values MASD has established such as embracing failure, honoring all ideas, actively listening, and consistently asking “what if?”
So, what if we connect innovators across sectors and disciplines? What if we rewrite a narrative full of social problems into one of creative solutions? What if we amplify social change efforts through consolidating resources? And what if this all happens through a publicly accessible social space?
Bar image via Shutterstock
When Humans Fight, but Animals Win Penguins have resorted to using landmines to keep pesky humans away.
So You Think You’re a Foodie? Pop culture was onto these trends way before you were. A sampling of the screwball comedies, sob stories, and sci-fis that anticipated our culinary moment
Dear Nine-Year-Old Me The transition is going to be difficult for you, but whenever you feel a little lonely and left out, take comfort in the knowledge that you are honing one of your greatest superpowers.
What to Do When Your Country is Drowning The wild and desperate ways island nations are fighting the effects of climate change
The Rise of Drone Pizza Delivery Why the skies will soon be filled with flying, snack-bearing robots
How Helsinki Became a Public Transporation Paradise One European city plans to make car ownership obsolete within a decade.
Follow the Crowd NanoCrafter and the rise of group intelligence Why online gaming may just be the future of science
The Empathy Mirror Neurofeedback enables us to better see ourselves in the other. Recent discoveries in neurofeedback can teach you to be less of a dick.
Robots On Ice Probe the Arctic Why a team of research robots is investigating disappearing sea ice, and why you should care
Don’t Turn Away Colin Finlay photographs the consequences of climate change. You will never see more beautiful photos of the deteriorating state of our planet than the ones in this photo feature.
Puppy Love How dogecoin spawned an improbable community of giving What a canine-emblazoned cryptocurrency can teach about philanthropy
Positive In, Positive Out: How a USC Alumna is Coping with Lymphoma Coast Guard Reserves member Cassie Sulfridge, 28, had just graduated from MSW@USC, the Southern California university’s web-based Master of Social Work program, and was working two jobs when her life was turned upside down.