Designing for Climate Action

Join me and my students from SVA’s Products of Design Program at Design for Climate Action @svaPoD for an evening of open innovation. Inspire a group of students who have the skills we need to start pushing the right levers of change (systems thinking, design, programming, communications, everything that I should have learned in grad school). Wednesday, September 30th, in NYC.

DCA_LOGO

 

Get Tickets Here ($10)

Event Description: Designing Climate Action is an open-innovation forum for entrepreneurs, designers, scientists, and activists to collaborate to accelerate climate action. Through an iterative and participatory workshop hosted by the Products of Design community, the event will bring together industry leaders with activists to foster inter-disciplinary partnerships and seed endeavors. Select ideas generated during the event will be developed by Products of Design masters students throughout the fall semester, and publicly presented in December 2015 to align with with COP21 proceedings. Products of Design is a Masters degree program at the School of Visual Arts.

Who should attend: Designing Climate Action calls for participation from entrepreneurs and business leaders building new more sustainable economies, designers and communicators creating movements to mobilize consumer action on climate and social justice, scientists working to foster urgency on climate change, and community activists whose stories should be front and center in the climate conversion.

A call to action: For the workshop please bring your challenges, ideas, and opportunities which can only be achieved through collective action. By pulling together this network of experts and activists, the Products of Design community hopes to create a forum to collaborate with you and/or your organizations to realize projects with high potential to galvanize action on climate change, by incubating them throughout the fall before releasing them to the public.

Biofabricate

Looking forward to the multiple disciplines being convened at the Biofabricate conference – and the chance to thread environment impact assessment, health impact, startup ethics, and the precautionary principle.

‘BIOFABRICATE’ is the world’s first summit dedicated to biofabrication for future industrial and consumer products. Biofabrication comprises highly disruptive technologies enabling design and manufacturing to intersect with the building blocks of life. Computers can now read and write with DNA. This is a world where bacteria, yeast, fungi, algae and mammalian cells grow and shape sustainable new materials.

My slides are here:

 

Bodies and Buildings Class 1: Intro to Systems Thinking

Have we reached the limits of growth:

[slideshare id=38840063&doc=bodiesandbuildings1nyuitp982014-140908144525-phpapp01]

 

Bodies are in trouble right now – despite reaching the peak of productivity the US now leads the world in the rampant growth of chronic diseases that lower life expectancy, and reduce life quality.

“People are living longer than projected in 1990 — on average, 10.7 more years for men, and 12.6 more years for women. But for many of them, the quality of life during those years is not good. On average, people are plagued by illness or pain during the last 14 years of life.”

Buildings account for the largest source of both electricity consumption (68% of global use) and greenhouse gas emissions (48% of global emissions) in the world. –UNEP.

Purpose of this course:

You are better equipped than MBAs to envision and build our way out of this trap, but often lack an understanding of the mega forces of business, regulation, and bad cultural habits that keep us from saving ourselves.

What we will cover in this course:

  • Meta view
  • Focus on points of intervention
  • Conceptual scaffolding

“Folks who do systems analysis have a great belief in ‘leverage points.’ These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big change in everything .”

Introduction to Donella Meadows, and learning about stocks, flows, and hands on the faucets.

 

 

 

Bodies and Buildings NYU ITP Syllabus for 2014

Bodies and Buildings
Fall 2014 Syllabus
NYU ITP
Instructor: Jen van der Meer
jd1159 at nyu dot edu
Mondays 6:30 – 9:25 PM 721 Broadway at Waverly

Generative Spiral

Why is it so hard to care for our planet and ourselves? We seem hungover from a century of prosperity and ingenuity, unable to invent economic models that create jobs, improve health, and restore the earth. Eager ITP students are better equipped than MBAs to envision and hack our way out of this trap, but often lack an understanding of the mega forces of business, regulation, and bad cultural habits that keep us from saving ourselves. But don’t despair! We’ll get busy, and make things again – but also provide you with conceptual scaffolding upon which to build your world changing ideas.

Our tools of understanding include deep design thinking, and systems thinking. By focusing on two systems in particular: human bodies, and the buildings that humans make, we will examine the environmental and social impacts of the economic systems. Bodies are in trouble right now – despite reaching the peak of productivity the US now leads the world in the rampant growth of chronic diseases that lower life expectancy, and reduced life quality. Buildings are not in enough trouble – they account for the largest source of both electricity consumption (68% of global use) and greenhouse gas emissions (48% of global emissions) in the world.

In this course we will discover what Dana Meadows calls “leverage points” as places to intervene that would transform the system as a whole.

Goals:

This is a lecture course, and the syllabus is built to provide students with a systems thinking approach to problem solving. The objective for the final presentations is for students to generate a concept that can be applied to improve human health, building health, or both. The goal is for students to articulate a solution, and argue persuasively for ideas to become reality (vs. moving straight to working prototype in usual ITP fashion). Assignments will involve in person class presentation, and class participation is required. The course is structured to provide iterative opportunities to build and strengthen ideas – rooted in user-centered design, grounded in the realities of sustainable cost models and growth plans, validated by lean and iterative solution development, and strengthened by students’ ability to stand up and tell their stories.

dna

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Green Brands: Do Intentions Matter in Ultimate Success?

At Open Forum for Inhabitat:

Two roads diverge

Two roads diverge

Let’s imagine two business leaders, both entrepreneurs, both looking to create an environmentally friendly and efficiently produced sunscreen.

Entrepreneur One is a green purist. Inspired to start a business after failing to findeffective non-toxic sunscreens for her first baby, and she decided to create thehealthiest, most environmentally friendly sunscreen in the marketplace. She has done a comprehensive analysis of how to how to reduce environmental impact across all stages of the lifecycle, and impacts beyond just carbon emissions. She realizes the product manufacturing will be more expensive, so she is looking to distribute her product through Web sales, word-of- mouth and eventuallyspecialty retail stores that cater to a hyper-aware, green consumer parent.

Now imagine Entrepreneur Two, a self-admitted and proud green opportunist. Aserial entrepreneur who has successfully supplied products to Walmart and otherbig box retailers, Entrepreneur Two was inspired by the Walmart SustainabilityIndex effort. The first phase of Walmart’s effort focused on their suppliers, providing a set of questions and conversations with current and future vendors to suggest a preference environmentally efficient products. Entrepreneur Two is convinced of the market potential for a “clean sunscreen,” and is working furiously to create a cost-effective solution that might compromise with a few ingredients to achieve the right price for the business model. She is looking for her environmental gains to help her sell her product and get a distribution deal with Walmart, and then plans to dominate the category of sunscreens at the mass-market level.

These two stories post other questions for those starting business with a sense ofpurpose and opportunity. Do original intentions matter to you, as an entrepreneuror as a consumer?  Do you think consumers care about the individuals and ideals behind a brand? If you were purchasing sunscreen for your baby, which productwould you buy?

These two stories also provide us a framework to understand how we measure value in our society – cultural value, economic value, and environmental value. Looking through these three lenses of measurement, which entrepreneur will achieve  the most business success, and which will achieve the greater good?

5 Social Apps for Social Good that Make Foursquare Seem Silly

At Open Forum for Inhabitat:

Think that mobile social apps are a waste of time and energy? What if you could use them to make the world a better place?  Inhabitat took a look at mobile-based applications and systems designed to promote positive social good. Here are five rising social impact apps to watch. 

Project Noah

Project Noah

The Extraordinaries 

Unable to fit volunteering into your jam-packed schedule, but you still want to contribute towards a cause? The Extraordinaries launched an app that breaks large scale volunteering efforts down into micro-tasks that you can complete, right on your smart phone, and now online. The app has a huge breadth of micro-volunteering opportunities. Anything from Big Cat Rescue – helping to catalogue animal rights abuses to The Sierra Club – helping to map trails in California. As one user expressed, “I love this app! When I feel like fiddling with my iPod I can make my playtime helpful to someone. No more wasted time! It’s a stellar example of using technology for social good.”

Causeworld

Karma points donations are starting to show up in Twitter feeds and Facebook streams everywhere, and is a favorite of marketing guru Joe Jaffe. The free app works like any location-based social game, but instead of earning virtual badges or winning prizes, members earn karma points donations and get to choose which charity receives their donation, and then broadcast their good works to their peers. Sponsored by brands like Kraft and Citi, Causeworld is looking to connect shopping and buying with location-based, real-time cause marketing, turning us all into mini-philanthropists.

Frontline SMS

Frontline SMS is a service created to allow citizen activists to monitor and track post election violence in Kenya (Frontline SMS and the web portal Ushahidi finds additional use in disaster recovery). The service has been used by non-governmental organizations in both Haiti and Chile to track down urgent messages in order to coordinate disaster relief. Volunteers as disparate as a Swiss graduate student in Boston, an engineer for Haiti’s biggest wireless company, and a social media innovator at the State Department used the service to find survivors, develop a communications protocol, and rapidly rebuild cellular infrastructure. Recent case examples such as the Haiti coordination are best practices for how government, talented volunteers, and citizens can rapidly self-organize to support people in need.

mGive

mGive is responsible for routing more than 90 percent of all funds raised to date through the mobile donations, and works with more than two hundred nonprofit clients, including the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the United Way. By not limiting the payment system to a specific kind of phone or service, mGive has wider market penetration than a comparable iPhone or Android based app. During the recent fundraising drive to support Haiti, you may have responded to the Red Cross call to text funds using the “90999” SMS short code. The Red Cross raised over $24 MM via mGive to help the Haiti recovery effort.

Project Noah

Project Noah started as a student project at NYU’s ITP school, the free mobile app allows citizens to become scientists. The goal is huge in its mission – to become the common mobile platform for documenting the world’s organisms. Users snap photos of local birds, plants, trees, and other species, and can either identify the organism or leave the classification up to the crowd. Project Noah conducts specific research projects in the form of field missions. Who wouldn’t want to join a mission called “Project Squirrel” – inviting you to contribute squirrel observations, or “The Lost Ladybug Project” – to understand ladybug species distribution. Join a mission today!

IBM Smarter Planet Internet of Things with Soft Jazz Piano

5 minute video involving several leaps of faith for the future of the internet of things. To be fair, one of the narrators at the end admits these are the baby step years for the internet of things.

Internet of Things defined as the point when data about things is greater than data about people.


You might be sending text messages, but the sidewalk you’re walking on has sensors, and the water mane and the bus and the trains – all of these independent systems have the potential to one day talk to each other, and autonomicly self-organize.

 

The smarter planet potential:

  1. Produce greater efficiency, as we learn to coordinate systems of systems and better use the resources of the earth.
  2. Generate greater insights, watch new forms of social relations emerge for how we can organize to live on this planet.

What’s The Eco Impact of an iPad

Op-Chart in the NYTimes on the weekend of the iPad launch – a lifecycle analysis of the iPad, timely for discussing the core element of analysis in LCA – the functional unit.

Daniel Goleman, author of Ecological Intelligence and Gregory Norris, LCA software expert at Harvard authored the “chart” comparing e-readers. The authors compared the Kindle, the iPad and a book by determine the functional unit as the reading of 1 book, and measured the “payback” of how many books one would have to read on an e-reader to = the ecological impact of a regular non electronic book.

With respect to fossil fuels, water use and mineral consumption, the impact of one e-reader payback equals roughly 40 to 50 books. When it comes to global warming, though, it’s 100 books; with human health consequences, it’s somewhere in between.

All in all, the most ecologically virtuous way to read a book starts by walking to your local library.

As an avid library user, even I find this conclusion smug. It makes me want to stop going to the library, and buy an iPad. The students also felt that this statement encouraged people even further to make the jump and buy an eReader, because 40-50 books seemed like a reasonable goal for someone buying such a device.

In class however we determined several other “functional units” of the iPad that were not analyzed in the LCA:

_Use of a bazillion non e-book apps.
_Listening to music.
_Watching hulu. Nope can’t do that because of the flash problem.
_Making art with digital fingerpainting apps.

And then we also identified more emotional/cultural uses that we would never be able to measure in an LCA:

_Showing off/bling status/class status.
_Give us ideas future world-saving (or at least world-distracting) apps we will build.
_Provide ideas for making SPIMES that would be materialized only on the iPad screen.
_Acquiring something to put in our Gucci bag designed specifically for the iPad.

And all of this points right to the limits of LCA. If you believe the device has the potential to change the culture for the better in the future (only 1/3 of students believed so), how do you account for the ecological impacts today?

NYU ITP: If Products Could Tell Their Stories Class 5 2010

Stakeholder management is an alternative to shareholder-based management, but shareholders are still at the table. In this class we look at the impact of shareholders on how things are made. Review of sources of competitive advantage, limits to growth theories, and emerging alternatives to the current organizational structures available. Social entrepreneurship, Coops, Conscious Capitalism discussed and debated.