When I “left design to pursue teacher certification,” I wrote this big long email and sent it to people as an Update On My Life. But then I didn’t do that when I started AC4D, nor when I graduated. Mostly because there’s no big beginning to announce–just lots of angst as I navigate job interviews, fiscal responsibilities, growing up, and following my heart. But there are a lot of small beginnings that deserve some officialiaty, so without further ado…
I graduated from AC4D.
The program was “interaction design & social entrepreneurship.” Interaction design is the design of systems, services, or technology products. Social entrepreneurship is the creation of businesses with social impact. AC4D combines design + business with the idea that designers can work toward tackling wicked social problems. In addition to learning skills and theory, we took on a 24-week project surrounding homelessness that included ethnographic design research with the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless and other Austin orgs, synthesis and ideation, and creating seeds of ventures.
I met amazing people, learned a ton, and co-started Nudge.
I moved to LA.
A year of long-distance with this guy needed to end.
At first, I didn’t think there would be any opportunities for me here in LA, and I was flirting with SF badly. But I’ve stopped that nonsense. Mike and I found and moved into our own apartment. And I’m meeting a lot of people, and finding the #ixd and #socent communities where I can.
Though we were not chosen for the fellowships (who receive mentorship, office space, and money), Nudge is among the 25 “runner-ups” to receive the venture accelerator’s support as well as access to mentors and programming.
We are trying to take full advantage of this honor; it’s “get what you give.” But it’s been difficult not being in SF to rub elbows with the cool people working in and visiting their offices or to attend their programming. We still got a few months to go, though, to make those connections!
(Passing Note: I had no idea what a “venture accelerator” was this time last year and was unclear about what Thinktiv did for months even though that’s where AC4D’ers worked and played.)
I’m interning with Livelyhoods
Livelyhoods (formerly known as KITO International) and its Kenyan subsidiary iSmart creates livelihoods for street youth in Kenya by training and employing them as sales agents. As sales agents, they’re able to bring disruptive/innovative new consumer products to hard-to-reach customers in urban slums and educate residents about the products’ uses and benefits.
I’ll be working with their co-founder Maria Springer while she’s Stateside on their Monitoring & Evaluation strategy and possible SMS-system implementation. I’ve also been helping out with their branding and website, since I can.
As of now, I don’t have any trips to Kenya planned, but who knows.
We received a grant to implement Nudge with a community health organization in Austin. We’re excited because this means we can develop and implement the system in the next 6 months, but moreso because we’ll get to build this for and with a health organization serving underserved populations — something we probably wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do financially.
Fire’s lit, and we have a lot of logistics to figure out, but YAY!
- I’m volunteering for SOCAP11, helping Sarah Brooks out with the Design for Social Innovation track as much as I can.
- Ruby and I are finishing a paper on “Design for Social Change” and how IxD is uniquely suited to solving social problems for the ICID conference in Hong Kong in November. We are also currently planning our trip to HK!
- Still freelancing and doing contract work here and there. Seems in the cards for me for now.
- Had a wonderful weeklong vacation in Butte, CA with Mike’s family/stepfamily. They have a cabin in the mountains where you eat lots of good food, play card games, read by the creek, and hike. No cell phone reception, no internet. Felt like myself for the first time in a long time. It was really hard to come back to the INTERNET, and I’m still wary of all the tech in my life. (Shh, don’t tell the #IxD community.) It was also nice to be me and to be around family, without the angst of my current professional choices hanging over my head.