2% OF EVERY SALE GOES TO ONE OF OUR PARTNERS FOR CHANGE

Cart (0)
Sign up for Off the Grid and get the latest Nau news and special offers. X
The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Archive for July, 2010

Using Bad Design For Good?

Posted by Alex | July 29th, 2010 | Filed under Design

18_cigarreteconcept13

Here in The Thought Kitchen, we talk a lot about the power of good design to create positive change. But what about bad design? Can an inconvenient, awkward, unsightly idea help create a better world?

That was the idea that RISD ID grad Erik Askin wanted to explore with his project Design To Annoy, in which he created a cigarette packet so impractical that it would discourage smokers from ever picking up a pack, let along offering a cigarette to a stranger.

18_cigarreteconcept8

Designed for difficult access, poor ‘pocket fit’, inefficient shipping, concealed branding and awkward sharing, its design is so elegantly bad, it’s good. Check out all the design drawings, and other ideas for inconvenient packaging, at the Design To Annoy website.

(via FastCoDesign)

One Minute: Falls

Posted by Alex | July 28th, 2010 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection

60 seconds to cool you off on a hot July day.

Announcing the 2010 G4C Grantee!

Posted by admin | July 27th, 2010 | Filed under Grant for Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

Design.

It is a difficult word to define, let alone execute with change-making results. It requires intent, insight, attention to detail. It asks for deeper thought around functionality, necessity, purpose and accessibility. Design has the power to change the way we interact with the world.

With this year’s Grant for Change we asked you to share your designs, but first, we negotiated the criteria. We asked for designs that instigate positive change. We asked for designs that address the world’s greatest challenges, and challenge assumptions about the way even the most basic things are done. We asked for design that is replicable, creative, compelling and effective.

After six weeks of open nominations, 124 nominees, an exciting voting period, support from hundreds of communities, interviews with our ten finalists, and much deliberation, we are excited to announce our second annual $10,000 Grant for Change Grantees:

truck_farm

Congratulations to Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney and their project Truck Farm.

Grandpa’s old pickup truck, turned mobile garden, has turned heads from Northern Massachusetts to Washington DC, and with it comes a humorous and edgy spin to the conversation around food.

It has inspired the creation of over 60 (and counting) food gardens in new and unusual places. Its course has been recorded with pictures and sound, culminating in a documentary film that is now rolling its way into the film festival circuit.

On the ground, the truck itself instigates awareness, offering a tangible, and remarkably simple, example of design as a tool for positive change; when the farm moves, it reminds us that we do not need a static plot of land to grow our own food.

Curt and Ian are fired up for the next steps of the Truck Farm movement. Their goals include a movie-screen attachment, to make the mobile farm a portable theatre; a series of contests focused on who can grow a garden in the craziest place; a succession of portable events, to gain traction with schools, through youth programs and innovative curriculum; and a (wish list) meeting with the CEOs of the Big Three automakers to see if any of them are interested in bringing a mass-production Truck Farm to market. In their own words:

“Urban agriculture is taking root in Detroit now, with vacant lots being planted in crops and commercially-viable farms sprouting up on 8 Mile Road. So why not take a bit of inspiration from that, and build a line of cars with room for a seedling or two? It sounds ridiculous, and is, but wouldn’t it be fun?”

Take a closer look – and see what we’re so excited about – here. We look forward to the upcoming year of storytelling, mobile farm movements and the urban agriculture conversation. We hope you will join the discussion.

Q + A: G4C FINALISTS, #4

Posted by admin | July 26th, 2010 | Filed under Grant for Change

The final set of answers from our top ten Finalists.

Check back tomorrow to find out who the 2010 Grantee is!

Changents (answers provided by Jennifer Simckowitz and Deron Triff)

Changents

1) What projects and changemakers inspire you in your efforts?

The hundreds of Change Agents on our site inspire us. Everyday we are moved by individuals who are bringing solutions to every imaginable issue around the globe. Their work deeply motivates us. Whether it’s getting Change Agents in Daughtry’s music video “What About Now” or into our new campaign with P&G around the global water crisis, connecting Change Agents with people and companies who can help propel their missions drives us. Helping them is what we’re all about.

2) If you could meet with anyone in the world to talk about your project, who would it be?

Jeffery Skoll—He, more than anyone understands the power of an incredible story to ignite social change. He understands the intersection between social change and business. As a social enterprise, we wholly believe good business is key to bettering our world and communities.

3) What’s playing on your mp3 player these days?

Johnny Cash

4) Making lasting change requires long term vision. Where would you like to see your project in 5 years?

Our vision is for Changents to be synonymous with incredible people moving the needle on an issue— Change Agents. We want people to think of Changents as the brand creating awesome opportunities for Change Agents. We want to be known as the place to interact with Change Agents and follow their thrilling stories.

We want to be working with the coolest companies that understand how business can get behind Change Agents and drive a Triple ROI: Corporate Value, Social Value and Cultural Value.

5) What inspired you personally to become involved in this project? Why is it meaningful to you?

A chance meeting with Scott Harrison in a restaurant in Soho, NYC inspired us. Scott was walking around with his laptop. He just got off a year humanitarian trip. I had an “Aha” moment.

Scott’s story was so compelling. Although I couldn’t identify with the issue immediately, through his voice – his story – I was able to relate. I thought, what if we created a platform where he could tell his story and people could connect around it and work together to change the world?

We are passionate about social enterprise and it will be the driving force in the next decade in solving the world’s problems. We desperately want to be part of that movement.

Q + A : G4C FINALISTS, #3

Posted by admin | July 23rd, 2010 | Filed under Grant for Change

Third set of Finalist answers, with more to come on Monday…

Original Scraper Bikes (answers provided by Tyrone Stevenson)

scraper_bikes_1_550x382

1) What projects and change-makers inspire you in your efforts?

The program that inspires my efforts is the Big Brother-Big Sister program. A lot of young people around the country have problems at home, and they don’t have someone older to guide them in a positive direction. The youth in my community (Oakland, CA) are bred to be a statistic; they’re taught at an early age how to rob, steal, and kill to survive. That’s why I feel like it’s my life goal to save as many kids as possible. The struggles these kids and I face on the daily is enough to inspire me to become a change-maker for my community. So here I stand!

2) if you could meet with anyone in the world to talk about your project, who would it be?

If I could meet with anybody in the world about my project it would have to be Oprah Winfrey. I choose her because I know the power she has on America and her opinion means a lot to people. I would want her to recognize the Scraper Bike Movement as an outlet that’s keeping youth in dangerous communities out of trouble, in school and away from drugs, gangs, and violence. And after that conversation, she calls President Obama and tells him how amazed she is…LoL…

3) What’s playing on your mp3 player these days?

Lately I’ve been listening to alot of R&B oldies from Michael Jackson, Al Green, Earth, Wind and Fire, even a little bit of 2pac. But usually I’ll listen to a lot of local hip hop while riding my 3 wheeler around my neighborhood with the Scraper Bike Team.

4) Making lasting change requires long-term vision. Where would you like to see your project in 5 years?

5 years from now I see my project being larger than life. The Scraper Bike Movement will franchise around the world helping communities in similar situations as Oakland. In 5 years I want to give youth full scholarships to college, and skills that will stick with them throughout their lives. I would like to open a community center based around the Scraper Bike Movement in Oakland, so I can continue to expand and save lives in the community that it started in.

5) What inspired you personally to become involved in this project? Why is it meaningful to you?

What inspired me to become so involved in the Scraper Bike Movement is that I realized that it’s saving young people’s lives. It keeps them in school and keeps them focus on doing what’s right in their life. Its meaningful to me because it all started in my backyard and continued to grow and is still growing. I see the future of the Scraper Bike Movement and it’s promising for the youth involved. If given the opportunity I will change the world one bike at a time.

Truck Farm (answers provided by Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney)

Truck Farm

1) What projects and change-makers inspire you in your efforts?

The thing we admire most is long-term thinking. Wes Jackson runs a Kansas organization called The Land Institute. Wes has been working since the 1970s to replace chemical-intensive agriculture with farming that’s modeled after the prairie. Instead of giant fields of corn or wheat, plowed and planted year after year, we’d grow a polyculture of different crops all mixed in together, and we’d grow them as perennials so we don’t plow up the topsoil. It’ll take several generations of old-fashioned plant breeding to make it a reality, but then we’d have a truly sustainable agriculture.

http://www.landinstitute.org/

2) if you could meet with anyone in the world to talk about your project, who would it be?

We’d like to meet with the CEOs of the Big Three automakers to see if any of them are interested in bringing a mass-production Truck Farm to market. Urban agriculture is taking root in Detroit now, with vacant lots being planted in crops and commercially-viable farms sprouting up on 8 Mile Road. So why not take a bit of inspiration from that, and build a line of cars with room for a seedling or two? It sounds ridiculous, and is, but wouldn’t it be fun?

3) What’s playing on your mp3 player these days?

The band that’s composing the music for our Truck Farm film, The Fishermen Three, has a new album out. We’re listening to sneak peeks of that. There are some clips from their last release, Rosina on Every Balcony, on their MySpace page. It’s pretty fabulous roots music, with a hip sensibility.

http://www.myspace.com/thefishermenthree

4) Making lasting change requires long term vision. Where would you like to see your project in 5 years?

One of the other projects we’re busy with these days is FoodCorps, a national AmeriCorps school garden program. We have support from AmeriCorps and the Kellogg Foundation to get the project going by fall, 2011. The idea is to put young adults to work building school gardens and sourcing fresh food from local farms in the schools and communities where childhood obesity has hit hardest. Within five years we’d like to see several hundred FoodCorps service members at work around the country, and we’d like them to have access to a fleet of Truck Farms.

www.food-corps.org

5) What inspired you personally to become involved in this project? Why is it meaningful to you?

Ian started Truck Farm as a place to grow a garden; he didn’t have any other land. Curt moved to Brooklyn when the harvest started, and that’s when we realized that our neighbors felt a connection to the farm, too. So we started taking the truck to schools, and over and over again we got to see this wonderful thing: the smile on a kid’s face when they smell a ripe tomato. That cheesy moment is usually accompanied by some hilarious question about whether you could grow food in a toilet, and that brings us down to earth a bit.

Q + A : G4C FINALISTS, #2

Posted by admin | July 22nd, 2010 | Filed under Grant for Change

Two more G4C Finalists share their answers. Still more to come…

Grow Your Lunch (answers provided by Benjamin Eichorn)

Grow Your Lunch

1) What projects and changemakers inspire you in your efforts?

I draw my inspiration from the garden on the Whitehouse lawn, the San Francisco County Jail Garden Project, and Urban farming initiatives in Cuba. I am also inspired by farmer-philosophers Masanobu Fukuoka, Wendell Berry and Wendy Johnson.

2) if you could meet with anyone in the world to talk about your project, who would it be?

Michelle Obama, Wangari Matthai, Jamie Oliver, Muhammad Yunus

3) What’s playing on your mp3 player these days?

Bon Iver, Brett Dennen, Manu Chau, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles…

4) Making lasting change requires long term vision. Where would you like to see your project in 5 years?

In five years time I envision working across the nation in diverse settings including businesses, prisons, hospitals, and schools to create more sustainable cafeteria food service programs. The gardens that Grow Your Lunch designs will be instrumental in raising awareness about food and sustainability.  Without the tangible connection to the Earth which a garden provides, widescale change to our institutionalized food system will be very slow and arduous.

5) What inspired you personally to become involved in this project? Why is it meaningful to you?

I grew up on a small organic farm in Big Sur, CA.  As a kid I loved to explore and play on the farm. As a teenager I resented the farm and all the labor I was required to perform.  In collegeI learned that the family farm is the strongest promise for a truly sustainable agriculture in the United States. This realization has led me to the creation of Grow Your Lunch.  Through Grow Your Lunch, I plan to help inspire a new generation of farmers and consumers by exposing them to the joys of growing food close to home.

KeoK’jay (answers provided by Rachel Faller)

KeoK'jay

1) What projects and change-makers inspire you in your efforts?

1. Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder of the Acumen Fund, for her un-yielding commitment, yet personal approach, to large-scale change.

2. Daniela Papi, founder of PEPY, a successful social enterprise in Cambodia which implements educational programming focused on a people-based approach and strengthening communities to take ownership.

3. Vutha Din, KeoK’jay project manager. Young and un-afraid to challenge the government when they force us to pay bribes, or the women we work with to stand up for themselves, she is un-daunted by cultural stereotypes. These qualities are rare, and not valued by Cambodian society, which makes her all the more inspirational.

2) If you could meet with anyone in the world to talk about your project, who would it be?

It probably sounds clique but I’d love to talk to Michelle Obama. She’s incredibly smart and accomplished, yet she is sassy and stylish and I’d probably be the happiest person alive if she wore some of our clothes.

3) What’s playing on your mp3 player these days?

Some current favorites: The Messenger Band, (an all women’s political folk group from Cambodia made up of ex-garment factory workers) Ryan Harvey (political folk singer/songwriter-activist-extraordinaire) Dengue Fever (Cambodian-American band making music in the style of 1960’s Cambodian pop-rock) and a handful of mixes and music by my friend Logan Keller, which are especially good for riding the night bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. A few others that have been on repeat are: Nizlopi, CocoRosie, Pearl and the Beard, K’naan, Four Tet, Tim Hecker, and things that friends recommend because it’s hard to find interesting music in Cambodia.

4) Making lasting change requires long-term vision. Where would you like to see your project in 5 years?

By growing our company through export sales, we are on- track to employ around 100 people in 5 years, directly increasing the quality of life for up to 1000 people including dependents. However, we believe the small community fostered by our organization more effectively meets needs of our participants as well as avoids corruption. Beyond employing 100 people, our goal is to foster connections with producers, sellers, buyers, and certifying bodies to strengthen every step of the fair trade line. While we strive for transparency while creating ethical fashion, we will also empower others far outside of Cambodia’s borders.

5) What inspired you personally to become involved in this project? Why is it meaningful to you?

I used to think I hated fashion. But on my first trip to Cambodia in 2007 I was inspired by the chance to use it to create positive impact in the face of so much negativity. I’d always loved making clothes, and I was able for the first time to reconcile my love for design and art that clothes people while improving the lives of the producers. The determination of the women, who have perserved to give their families a better life despite immense challenges, also inspired and challenged me, which is what keeps me going today.

A Little Something For Our Readers

Posted by Alex | July 21st, 2010 | Filed under Nau Events

giftcard3

Sweet!

To thank all you readers of The Thought Kitchen for your loyal following of the blog this summer, the nice folks in sales have agreed to a special one day offer:

TODAY ONLY, if you make a purchase of $100 or more at nau.com and use the code “thoughtkitchen” at checkout, we’ll send you a $20 gift card. Spend it on yourself or share with a friend; it’s the next best thing to free money. Not bad for reading a blog, right?

Take advantage of the offer over at nau.com, and let us know in the comments if you’d like to see more special savings for Thought Kitchen readers. We’ll pass them on and see what we can do!

(via, well, nau.com)

Q + A: G4C Finalists

Posted by admin | July 21st, 2010 | Filed under Grant for Change

Here are the answers from the first three G4C Finalist interviews. More to come…

desigNYC : (answers provided by Michelle Mullineaux)

desigNYC

1 ) What projects and change makers inspire you in your efforts?

Wow. There are almost too many to list — Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity and Emily Pilloton of Project H for mobilizing designers to get involved in serving the public good; John Peterson and John Cary from Public Architecture for pioneering pro bono design with the 1% Program; nonprofits like Taproot Foundation who are helping people bring their professional expertise to volunteer efforts; the Design Trust, Robin Hood and CUP for demonstrating the value of design in solving issues facing NYC; and last but certainly not least, President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg for activating citizen engagement in public service.

2) if you could meet with anyone in the world to talk about your project, who would it be?

Now that desigNYC is nearly complete with our first round of pilot projects, we’d love to meet with Mayor Bloomberg and First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris to update them on a our progress and invite their participation in helping us scale and become a sustainable organization.

3) What’s playing on your mp3 player these days?

Jónsi’s Go is in heavy rotation this summer. I’ve always loved Sigur Rós’ sprawling symphonic builds and mysterious “hopelandic” vocals. The title track, Go Do, is a great song to listen to on the way to work — you start strutting to the beat and get inspired to tackle whatever the day throws your way.

4) Making lasting change requires long term vision. Where would you like to see your project in 5 years?

In five years we will ideally have an open-source platform, toolkit and knowledge sharing network that enables desigNYC’s model of collaboration take root in any city. We’ve received inquiries from people across the country and around the world, eager to lend their design talents and expertise to social purpose projects in their communities. Why should they reinvent the wheel? We need better collaboration tools and networks to accelerate and scale solutions around design for sustainability and social impact.

5) What inspired you personally to become involved in this project? Why is it meaningful to you?

While working on my MBA, I had the honor of collaborating with Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr from Architecture for Humanity, which amplified my interest in design for social change. With desigNYC, we wanted to build on the success of previous models like AFH, but make it hyper-local so people could connect with (and positively impact) their local community and multidisciplinary so any type of designer could get involved and make a difference. That started a kernel of an idea that came to life through the actions of our amazing founding committee and brave pilot project collaborators.

Giving Tree Band  : (answers provided by Todd Fink)

Giving Tree Band

1 ) What projects and change makers inspire you in your efforts?

Our band has been significantly inspired by the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota which we visited recently while on tour.  Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski was asked by the Lakota elders to undertake this project as a tribute to Native American culture.  He accepted and dedicated the rest of his life to carving an image of Crazy Horse into the mountain from 1948 until his death in 1982, even though he knew the work could not be completed in his lifetime. The one who plants the tree will not necessarily enjoy its shade.

2) if you could meet with anyone in the world to talk about your project, who would it be?

There really is no ONE person that we would want to share our project with.  Every person we do share our music and message with feels like the most important person to us at that moment.  It is so interesting because every person that I’ve personally had the fortune to get to know, I inevitably walk away thinking they are the “rock star” because of some unique and amazing quality. The only difference is that their talent will not necessarily be exposed to the world.

3) What’s playing on your mp3 player these days?

Believe it or not, only a few guys in the band have iPods but it seems like classic songwriters continue to dominate the playlists: Bob Dylan and The Band, Neil Young, The Beatles, Kinks, Stones, Woody Guthrie, CSN, and so on.

4) Making lasting change requires long term vision. Where would you like to see your project in 5 years?

We would like to see our music reaching and inspiring more people around the world. We would also like to involve more non-profits and educators to be on hand at our concerts. We have a plan to do a major tour along the Mississippi River with the band travelling by canoe and stopping in cities along the river to perform and share ideas with organizations and folks who are interested in building a culture of peace and sustainability.

5) What inspired you personally to become involved in this project? Why is it meaningful to you?

I once read a quote from the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, “It is the duty of the composer to serve his fellow man, to beautify human life and point the way to a radiant future. Such is the immutable code of the artist as I see it.” I agree with this whole-heartedly and this band has allowed me to live this value.  I am very blessed to have friends that happen to be some of the finest musicians in the world but more importantly committed to personal growth. It is a rare community of positive like-minded souls.

Aerlyn + Aisha : (answers provided by Aerlyn Pfeil)

Aerlyn + Aisha

1. What projects and change-makers inspire you in your efforts?

We have found inspiration from several organizations: The African Birth Collective, Doctors Without Borders, etc. The true inspiration for this project however, came from the Joseph village itself, a small village in Hinche, Haiti.  Joseph, the elected leader is 26 (he was 16 when he was elected).  It is his life mission to bring sustainability to the community.  That amazes us.  It’s inspiring to see such dedication to change.  They have started a community garden, a school (in desperate need of repair), and are working on providing every family with chickens; seemingly small things, but a potentially huge impact.

2.  If you could meet with anyone in the world to talk to about your project, who would it be?

Sean Penn, Melinda Gates, and if she was alive, Dorthea Lange.  We agree with Sean Penn—helping Haiti is a human obligation.  We each need to choose a project and see it through.  That is how we are operating.  We are one seed, planted in one village, dedicated to change.  The Gates foundation is committed to women’s health and children–it would be great to have their support!  To sit down with Dorthea Lange and talk to her about photojournalism would be amazing.  Seventy years later, her images still evoke compassion and perspective.  Photos are a footprint and a call to action.

3. What is playing on your mp3 player these days?

Hank Williams III, Eric Backman, and our favorite local Portland band, Shoeshine Blues.

4.  Making lasting change requires long term vision.  Where would you like to see your project in 5 years?

We would like to see that our efforts in the Joseph community have taken hold–better birth practices and outcomes, Traditional Birth Attendants effectively training a new generation of TBAs and creating sustainable birth kits.  We would also like to see our teaching project extend to other countries of need.   It is also part of our long term goal to create and publish a book and documentary.   Wouldn’t it be amazing if our seed of a project, this little Haitian sprout, was touching women and babies all over the world?

5.  What inspired you personally to become involved in this project?

Aisha:  The earthquake and realization that as Americans, we do have the power and means to make change.  Also, photographers like Dorthea Lange, and Aerlyn’s dedication to bettering births for Haitian mothers.  Joseph and his chickens!

Aerlyn:  The mothers and babies.  It’s always an honor to be at births, but it is different in Haiti; often the honor is attending a birth that is also a death.  I know that I have the skills to make a difference, even if only for one woman; after all, there is nothing more basic or beautiful than the healthy birth of your child.

Five Questions For The G4C Finalists

Posted by Alex | July 20th, 2010 | Filed under Grant for Change

100607_g4c_logo_550X382

The 2010 Grant For Change has entered its final stage, with ten finalists vying for the $10,000 award. Five of the ten were chosen by you, the public, by garnering the highest vote counts. Nau chose an additional five, for the integrity of the projects and their relationship to design. Each of the top ten Finalists deserve a place in the spotlight.

To help our judges make their decision, we’ve asked the finalists tell us more about themselves, their project goals, and their dedication to design as a tool for positive change. And to help you learn more about each of these worthy groups, over the next week, The Thought Kitchen will share their responses to these five questions:

1) What projects and changemakers inspire you in your efforts? 
2) If you could meet with anyone in the world to talk about your project, who would it be?
3) What’s playing on your mp3 player these days?
4) Making lasting change requires long term vision. Where would you like to see your project in 5 years?
5) What inspired you personally to become involved in this project? Why is it meaningful to you?

Check back every day between now and July 27th, when we’ll announce the 2010 Grant For Change recipient.

Recycled Chic on the Tour

Posted by Alex | July 19th, 2010 | Filed under Uncategorized

34595_449223225588_622750588_6518988_6696069_n

Feed bags, or ‘musettes,’ as they’re known in the francophile jargon of road cycling, are the lunchboxes of the pro cycling set. Handed up by support staff to riders in the middle of a long stage, most are thrown aside to be claimed as trophies by the fans lining the course. But with a feed stop on nearly every one of twenty stages, and nearly 200 racers starting this year’s Tour de France, that’s almost 4,000 (mostly cotton) bags getting tossed into sunflower fields and mountain passes every year. What—other than hang on the wall as a momento—to do with all that fabric?

While we at Nau usually like to take our recycled fabrics down to the fiber (if not monomer) level before creating a garment, it’s always fun to see what people can do with discarded raw materials and a little creativity. That, and maybe a pair of Christian Louboutin pumps. (It is France, after all…). For more recycled fashions, check out local Portland non-profit Junk To Funk, and—of course—all the recycled poly styles on nau.com.

(via Fyxomatosis Hub, with a hat tip to Thatcher’s dad.)