Sometime around 2006 I discovered the blog of Aaron James Draplin and I’m a better designer for it. Draplin creates timeless designs and provides memorable commentary from his studio in Portland, OR. He’s had a hand in designing many of the products I love from the branding for Coal Headwear, to the creation of Field Notes, and even t-shirts for Patagonia.
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Never before has the death of someone I’d never met filled me with such sadness. Steve Jobs was the creative force behind the products I delight in using on a daily basis and the visionary that gave birth to the industry I’ve made a living in for the past fifteen years. So when it came time to express my feelings of loss I turned to my iPhone and found comfort in the fact that I was not alone. Millions of people turned to tools that would not have been possible without his passion, drive, and creativity. He truly was a man who saw things differently and succeeded in pushing the human race forward.
“You become empowered every time you put one of these things together that supports your life. Your water system, your electricity, you build your house.”
Kevin Cunningham, a surfboard-shaper based in Rhode Island, has embarked on a project to create a series of boards from trash he finds washed up on the beach. Over the years the surf industry has dipped it’s toes into sustainable board design but this project is downright audacious. Drift wood and plastic will become the skin and ropes; fishing nets will act to strengthen the board; and plastics (bags and sheets) will be pressed and formed into fins. The boards will be both art and functional water craft. Initially they will be shown in galleries around the country . . . hopefully after they have been put through the paces in the ocean.
“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”
When the Knight News Challenge put out a call seeking innovative digital projects, Austin Ellis and I jumped at the opportunity, applying with a plan that would make campaign contribution data more transparent on the web. Now in its fifth year, the contest funds projects that focus on the advancement of news reporting in the digital age that fall in the categories of mobile, authenticity and sustainability. Our proposal titled “Financial Footprints” would use a browser extension to display campaign contribution information to users on relevant web pages. A short quote from our application sums up the basic premise:
Malcom Gladwell makes a compelling case for why new media tools will not reinvent activism and become a catalyst that shifts our social or political landscape. His comparison of The Civil Rights Movement and social networks like Twitter and Facebook is particular interesting. It’s a lengthy article but well worth the read. I lingered particular long on this passage.
The instruments of social media are well suited to making the existing social order more efficient. They are not a natural enemy of the status quo. If you are of the opinion that all the world needs is a little buffing around the edges, this should not trouble you. But if you think that there are still lunch counters out there that need integrating it ought to give you pause.
If you’ve been in San Francisco recently you’ve probably seen posters urging you to vote “No on 23” in the November 2nd election and calling it the “DIRTY ENERGY Proposition”. It peaked my curiosity and lead me to research just what Prop 23 stood for. After digging through the muddy details it became apparent that this was a blatant attack on our environment, strictly to enrich the corporate bottom line.1 It’s also an assault on California’s burgeoning green tech field which is leading job growth in the state.
The ability for the internet to directly connect people across the globe has begun a unique form of alleviating poverty called micro-lending. Leading this revolution is San Francisco based Kiva.org, which provides person-to-person lending in the developing world. This means that anyone can provide a loan of as little as $25 to a farmer is Cambodia or a grocery store owner in Samoa. By harnessing the power of the internet Kiva has been able to attack poverty and global economic imbalances by providing direct economic stimulus to small business and entrepreneurs within the developing world.
Kiva has partnered with local organizations to identify potential recipients of a micro loan and then distribute these loans. These entrepreneurs profiled on the Kiva website with descriptions of the individual or group, as well as their business and the proposed use for the funds. Then users like you or me can select a business to make a loan to. Loans typically end up being provided by a combination of lenders which make up the $500 to $1500 requested by the recipient.