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Posts Tagged ‘ideo’

Water for Congo

Photo: Ideo
Asili, an enterprise designed by the American Refugee Committee (ARC), IDEO.org, and the people of Kabare in the Congo, has distributed millions of liters of clean water to people who didn’t have any. In the photo, a prototype offers sample cups of Asili water outside a Sunday church service. 

One of my favorite organizations is the Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee, which does good work all around the world. In this story about bringing clean water to people in the Congo, they demonstrate the importance of asking the local people what they want, consulting with them on how work should be done, and enabling them to take charge.

In the Congo’s Kabare region, ARC partnered with residents and USAID to create a community-run business called Asili, and Asili partnered with residents and the design firm Ideo to launch a clean water initiative.

The project is described at Ideo.

“The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been beset by decades of war, deep poverty, and an underdeveloped infrastructure for international development projects. Yet Asili — a community-run business delivering essential services in the Kabare region — is flourishing, thanks to the pride, strength, and ingenuity of the Kabare locals.

“[It] offers clean water, agricultural services, and a health clinic to area communities. Designed by the American Refugee Committee (ARC), IDEO.org, and the people of Kabare themselves, Asili has distributed millions of liters of water, seen local farmers’ incomes and outputs jump tremendously, and had thousands of patients at its three health clinics since they were established in 2014.

“Perhaps what’s most important, especially in a landscape of failed international development projects, is that Asili was born from — and is run by — the people of Kabare.

“In 2013, the American Refugee Committee (ARC) approached IDEO.org with a bold challenge: How might we build a community-owned, for-profit business in eastern DRC to support better health and improved livelihoods? …

“The early results have been truly remarkable. Since Asili was launched, 60 kilometers of pipeline have brought 5.3 million liters of clean water to previously overlooked villages, and this influx has helped cultivate a new local agriculture ecosystem. In addition, world-class healthcare has been delivered to over 3,000 people in some of the most vulnerable communities on earth….

“The Asili team have totally embraced human-centered design, and Congolese staff are hard at work building prototypes, iterating on what’s working, and using a design approach to build the next steps for this remarkable organization.” Wow.

In my ESL volunteering, I have had the privilege of meeting many Congolese refugees. To say that life in Congo is hard would be a gross understatement. Projects by Asili represent hope.

More at the American Refugee Committee website, here, and at Ideo, here.

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You may recall a post I wrote about the Daily Table, which takes produce that would’ve been wasted and uses it to provide good meals at low cost.

Jennifer Medina writes at the NY Times that Imperfect Produce, a San Francisco Bay Area start-up, has also “been selling what it calls ‘cosmetically challenged’ fruit and vegetables. …

“Imperfect Produce delivers boxes of ugly fruit and vegetables to people’s doorsteps in the Bay Area. A large box of mixed produce — 17 to 20 pounds of fruits and vegetables, with five to eight types of items, depending on what is in season — costs $18, for example; a small box of fruit (10 to 15 pounds) costs $12 a week. [Chief supply officer Ron] Clark primarily relies on buying produce directly from California farmers …

“Ben Simon, the chief executive, and Ben Chesler, the chief operating officer, began their work on food waste as college students, when they saw trays of food from the campus cafeterias thrown out each night. Mr. Chesler and Mr. Simon created Food Recovery Network, which now has more than 100 colleges donating uneaten food to soup kitchens. …

“The pair met Mr. Clark, who had spent more than a decade working to bring produce that would have otherwise gone to waste to food banks across California. Using his relationship with suppliers, the three have created a business that has attracted attention from many of the tech luminaries in the region, including the design firm Ideo, which receives its own drop-off each week.” More here.

Photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Times  
Imperfect Produce, a San Francisco Bay Area start-up, specializes in produce that is misshapen or cosmetically deficient but otherwise perfectly edible. 

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One of Studio 360‘s regular hosts spoke recently with a woman who believes good design can and should be used to enhance the most mundane and cheerless places.

The radio show’s website says, “Going to the DMV, doing the dishes, commuting to work: what would you change if you could? Kurt talked with designer Ingrid Fetell about how better design can make all the difference.

“Fetell wants to ‘create principles that are informed by what the cognitive sciences are showing us about the way that objects, surfaces, colors, textures, patterns make us feel, and use those as principles for designing things that really make us feel good,’ she tells Kurt Andersen. Her curiosity stems from noticing that certain things seem to universally make people feel a sense of joy — like confetti, balloons, and bubbles. ‘It was really born out of a curiosity to understand why certain things make even babies smile.’

“She points to Edi Rama as a real-life example of putting these ideas into practice. Rama, who is now Prime Minister of Albania, was named the World Mayor in 2004 after painting much of Tirana in bright colors. The results were remarkable. ‘He found that people actually started paying their taxes after the painting,’ she tells Kurt. ‘People stopped littering as much and the shopkeepers started taking the metal grates off their windows and opening glass window fronts back out to the street.’ ” More here.

I like the idea of trying to understand what makes a baby smile. Or laugh. There are so many wonderful YouTube videos of babies laughing hysterically when someone tears paper or when a dog eats popcorn. Why is that hilarious? Because it’s startling?

By the way, Studio 360 is collaborating with Fetell and IDEO “to redesign a thing, place, or experience that is unnecessarily joyless.” Send your ideas on Twitter or Instagram, and tag #bringjoy. I sent “homeless shelter.”

Paint job: Edi Rama, who became prime minister of Albania

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In Boston: a Greenway exercise class on a hot morning, a North End corner named for a beloved local,  a Street Seats bench by ideo, one with a grassy cushion near the Children’s Museum, and a wavelike one in a shaded arcade along Fort Point Channel.

In Concord: an arched vista, a Michio Ihara sculpture at the Concord Art Association, the entry of the Art Association, a shop’s wind decoration still outside at at 6 a.m.,  and the herb garden behind First Parish.

greenway-exercise

north-end-corner

bench-design-by-ideo

bench-nr-childrens-museum

wavelike-bench

concord-center-vista

Ihara-at-Concord-Art

concord-art-entry

hanging-outside-at-6am

firt-parish-garden

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