Design Action members were busy this Fall organizing workshops and speaking on panels at universities and conferences about worker cooperatives and media tools for grassroots activism. One of the common questions that came up in many of these events, focused on sustainability. How do we, as designers and programmers, help make media tools more accessible and useful to movement organizers while still sustaining ourselves in the work? Many workshop participants discussed issues of how to prevent burn out and best practices for working collaboratively. We reviewed case studies of successful campaigns where strategic communication played a role, and shared what we had learned from new challenges.
Design Action thrives on our network. We are part of a community that is dedicated to serving the social justice movement and we value these opportunities for sharing resources and knowledge. Our participation in these events helps us better understand the needs of social justice organizers so we can continue to be accountable to impacted communities. It also fosters a spirit of camaraderie with our peers in the graphic design and web development world. Design Action tries to get away from the idea of competing with fellow designers for jobs. We are grateful to have had so many opportunities this Fall to learn about each others’ work so we may team up on projects or refer projects to each other in the future.
Design Action presented at these events in Fall 2012:
The Public Interest Design Institute provides training to architecture and other design professionals on how design can address the critical issues faced by communities. Training in public interest design is a way of enhancing an existing design practice and learning skills to become pro-actively engaged in community-based design. Design Action gave a presentation titled “Design & Grassroots Activism” — a case study on the branding process we undertook with Just Cause Oakland and St. Peter’s Housing Committee as the organizations merged to form Causa Justa :: Just Cause.
The Graphic Arts Guild organized a panel of graphic designers to discuss becoming an entrepreneur, getting work, and establishing worker cooperatives. The audience was made up of young graphic design students and recently graduated students who were just starting their careers. Sabiha Basrai represented Design Action on the panel. She shared her personal story of combing her skills in graphic design and social justice activism, and explained the worker cooperative model that has enabled her to thrive both personally and professionally.
Design Action members Ivy Climacosa and Poonam Whabi spent a fun evening at the La Peña Artists & Activists HUB — a networking opportunity fashioned after the speed dating model to promote exchange among our artist and activist network.
Aspiration Tech’s Nonprofit Software Development Summit is a convening of graphic designers, programmers and communicators dedicated to improving the way technology and media tools support the social justice movement. Several Design Action members attended this summit and participated in sessions on security and privacy protection, strategic data collection and analysis, and online fundraising. We also lead a workshop on best practices for collaboration between graphic designers and developers. One of the many highlights of the summit was an afternoon discussion dedicated to identifying and dismantling patriarchy in the tech industry.