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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)


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.

One Response to “Q + A: G4C Finalists”

  • October 15, 2010 at 5:07 am | Q + A: G4C Finalists | DesigNYC says

    [...] Q + A: G4C Finalists By Sarah Johnson, Nau Grant for Change July 21, 2010 This entry was posted in Latest News. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

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