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5 Interventions I Wish I Had Brought To The World

January 18, 2016

I just started the second semester of the Design for Social Innovation master's program at the School of Visual Arts. That means thesis mode is ON and identifying the topic that I want to dedicate my mind, body, and soul to for the next year and a half (or more) is due. 

 

What did I learn or what ideas were reaffirmed while listing 5 interventions I wish I had brought to the world? Mostly that my interests revolve around empowerment and self-sufficiency at the individual and community level. A more simple lifestyle that allows people to fulfill their housing, infrastructure, food and other needs with the help of their community and in a sustainable way is the future I want to help create and live at. 

 

Some of the projects below may be considered failed or risky ventures but that does not mean they cannot be reimagined and brought to the people who are eager to see them succeed.    

 

1. arcosanti

I visited Arcosanti in 2015 with my partner and friends at the end of a road trip that took us to Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. It was an appropriate way to transition from traveling through the great American outdoors back to our lives in the urban sprawls each of us call home. 

 

Arcosanti is a compact city that is being built based on Paolo Soleri's theories on Arcology, defined by the late architect as "architecture and ecology as one integral process". The goal of this urban laboratory that sits in the desert of Arizona is to create a dense city with integrated systems that supports the human culture in a sustainable way. Frugality, efficiency, and smart living are some of the ways Soleri proposes the American dream to be reinvented in order to sustain the country and humankind.

 

Far from housing 5,000 people as Solari intended, many consider this a failed dream still, Arcosanti receives close to 30,000 visitors a year. This suggests many people around the world, me included, are eager to see this lifestyle become a reality. 

 

To learn more visit:

https://arcosanti.org/Arcology 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/garden/an-early-eco-city-faces-the-future.html

 

2. quirky

I have had a love and hate relationship with Quirky from the very beginning. The company whose mission is to make invention accesible to people filed for bankrupty at the end of 2015. It is yet to be seen what the future holds for the still young company. 

 

Quirky allows people to present their ideas for new products to its community. The products presented will only see the light of day if they receive enough votes from the community. Quirky's team takes care of research, development, marketing, and selling of the products and pays royalties to those with the winning ideas.

 

As an Industrial Designer I love the concept. As a future Designer for Social Innovation I see these as an opportunity to facilitate the creation of quality, sustainable products that offer real solutions as oppossed to products that follow a trend and will become obsolete as technology becomes better. The company is starting a new chapter, and I will be paying attention.

 

To learn more visit:

https://www.quirky.com/invent/launched

 

3. The alderson green grocer

 

The neighbors of Alderson, West Virginia saw the opportunity to open their own grocery store when the only local grocer closed in November 2014. The new not for profit store saves Alderson residents a 30 mile round trip to the other closest grocery store, and by focusing on fresh and local food supports the health and economy of the area. 

 

This model can be replicated in other places where it can prevent neighborhoods from becoming food deserts. 

 

To learn more visit:

http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150222/GZ05/150229972/1419

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-us-start-a-grocery-store#/

 

4. techshop

As a fan of Do It Yourself culture, Techshop is my type of playground. Their facilities offer their members laser cutters, electronic labs, machine shop, wood shop, embroidering machines, and other equipment that are not readily available to the general public.

 

Techshop and other hackerspaces are building communities that allow tinkerers from all over the country to collaborate, learn and make new things with each other. 

 

Empowering the community to create the things they did not think possible is one of the things that excites me the most about these type of places. Projects small and large can be created with the right equipment some of which could offer innovative solutions for our homes, communities, and the world.

 

To learn more visit:

http://www.techshop.ws/

 

 

5. East Coast Greenway

Can I ride my bike from Maine to Florida, while stoping at mayor cities and enjoying their natural beauty and cultural offers? Sign me up.

 

The East Coast Greenway is an urban, 2,900 mile long trail system that will link 25 major cities between Calais, Maine, and Key West, Florida. The corridor will provide cyclists, runners, walkers, and other users a new way to explore the Eastern zone of the United States.

 

Living in NYC gave me the chance to use my bike as my main mode of transportation for almost 2 years. My bike did not only take me from point a to point b, it was a way to get to know the city and my neighborhood in a closer way. Enjoying the local parks, restaurants, shops, cultural offering, and the people around me was easier using two wheels. A bike offers me a level of freedom that a car will never beat.  

 

To learn more visit:

http://www.greenway.org/

 

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MARLYN MARTÍNEZ MARRERO

SOCIAL IMPACT DESIGNER