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TYTHE’s MSK Redesign Featured on Good.Is!

April 11, 2013 in Our Activity

Posted by Ellie Wendell – Communications and Biz Dev Consultant at TYTHEdesign

TYTHEdesign’s second feature for GOOD.is has been posted! In the article “Soup Kitchen on Wheels: Redesigning a NYC Nonprofit’s Services”, Kristina Drury, Founder and Creative Director of TYTHE, discusses our work redesigning St. John’s Bread and Life’s mobile soup kitchen.  It is one of TYTHE’s examples of  how using “…the lens of design could support and create efficiency within the existing conditions”. The truck, being fabricated in California should be up and running this spring.

Once again, we sincerely appreciate the GOOD community taking an interest in TYTHE’s work and providing us with an opportunity in which to tell our story. Thank you, GOOD!

Check out the full article here and keep an eye out for more articles from TYTHE.

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TYTHE Featured on GOOD.is!

February 1, 2013 in Our Activity

Posted by Ellie Wendell – Communications and Biz Dev Consultant at TYTHEdesign

TYTHEdesign has recently been featured on GOOD.is! In the article “TYTHEdesign: A New Business Model to Balance Profit and Social Good”, Kristina Drury, Founder and Creative Director of TYTHE, discusses the reasons behind our unique business model, the challenges of being a for profit company in the social sector and the benefits of being mission-driven. We sincerely appreciate the GOOD community taking an interest in TYTHE’s work and providing us with an opportunity in which to tell our story. Thank you, GOOD!

You can check out the full article here.

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Thanksgiving

November 21, 2012 in TYTHE talks, TYTHEtools

by Ellie Wendell – Communications and Biz Dev consultant at TYTHEdesign

Thanksgiving is a time for food, friends, family and being thankful.  It’s a time to enjoy old traditions and forge new ones.   Extended family and multiple generations gather to reconnect, share stories and exchange opinions. At TYTHE we have been musing over all of the nuances of these family gatherings considering all the good and the complicated that can come with them. Along with all of the love, laughter and shared memories can often be some more ahem, polemical moments – where a side comment about the new movie Lincoln can turn into a heated political debate, or the disappearance of the last piece of pie dissolves into a sibling argument over the missing Power Ranger toy from 15 years ago or a discussion of the monogamy of turkeys turns into an inquisition as to the fruits or lack thereof of your love life.

We thought it might be helpful to offer a little design-thinking inspired cheat sheet to help prepare you.

Step 1: Observation period
Take time to observe your surroundings when entering a room or before engaging in conversation. In design-thinking theory the observation period allows for you to assess people in their familiar environment to help you rethink your preconceived assumptions.

  • Note body language – is your brother gesturing the way he does when he’s about to launch into the real theory behind his World of Warcraft domination? Does anyone look tense or upset? Is cousin Sam leaning in close in the ‘I’m really not supposed to tell you this’ posture?
  • Note how much people have had to drink – Is the vibe still comfortably buzzed or has it shifted into comfortable to finally confront you about not coming to my son’s confirmation or comfortable to over-share about the latest family drama?
  • Note who is talking to whom – anyone conspiring? Did cousin Ralph corner your sister instead of you?  Is the close-talking neighbor looking for someone to chat with about the latest update to his online dating profile?

 

Step 2: Scenario build
Try to consider potential outcomes of different scenarios. Design-thinking theory uses scenario building to explore potential outcomes of hypothetical situations in order to assess the effectiveness of certain actions prior to taking them.

  • If Joe has that extra glass of wine will he try to sell you shares of his new CD mobile business?
  • If you sit next to Stella at dinner will she try to convince you of the family conspiracy to disown her?
  • If Buster sits next to Gregor will a fight ensue? Will you be in the line of mashed potato fire?
  • If you mention to Stella you are looking for a new job will she provide some leads?

 

Step 3: Hedge your bets and make a move
Other things to consider before committing:

  • Is there an easy escape – (e.g. are you both grabbing a drink)?  Or are you stuck (e.g. sat next to them at dinner)?
  • Will it be fun light banter (e.g. uncle Jack always jokes about setting you up with his Tae Bo instructor)? Or will it be uncomfortable (grandma Josephine begins to tear up about having a spinster for a granddaughter)?
  • Is there a known outcome (every year Elena retells your most embarrassing camp story)? Or is it an unknown outcome (maybe you and Rocky have similar thoughts on healthcare reform)
  • Will you be a major player in the conversation? Or will you be a negotiator?

 

When deciding whether or not to engage in the conversation, break up a disagreement, or voice your real opinion, refer to steps one, two and three, and then go for it!

We hope this has helped you prepare to make Thanksgiving an even more enjoyable holiday. That being said, what would Thanksgiving be without some of the good old awkward times. You never know what wonderful insights, stories or laughs may come from them.

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Spontaneous Communities

November 14, 2012 in TYTHE talks

by Ellie Wendell – Communications and Biz Dev Consultant at TYTHEdesign

Sandy has brought together many new transient communities through the relief effort. An afternoon spent with strangers cleaning basements of debris or a day driving through Coney Island handing out supplies with three new acquaintances loaded into the back seat creates shared moments of purpose and in these instances, significant emotion.  These are examples of brief collaboration while other efforts such as Occupy Sandy are examples of more sustained interaction.

At TYTHE we invest in the concept of community, its engagement, its development, its composition and its potential.  A community can be a very personal thing; each individual may have his/her own concept of the composition of their community. Some may draw physical delineations, such as their neighborhood, some may consider it from the social angle, such as their friendship circle and some may associate it with special interests such as a chess playing community.  Community is a malleable concept. It can be attributed to certain times in your life, certain areas of interest, of certain common space.

Recently, a good friend was hospitalized for an extended period of time. To offer support and cope with the incident, many of his friends connected, creating an email chain and blog to share information and positive memories and thoughts.  All of a sudden I was connected to a whole new group of people through the axis of our friend. This seemed to certainly be a community based around a person. This is a unique community because it is self-identified as opposed to our friend selecting who he considered to be in his community. They may be a perfect match, but not necessarily.  The term spontaneous community popped into my head to identify what was forming in this particular situation.

I came to learn, not terribly surprisingly, that I was not the first person to consider implications of the phrase.  A Google search revealed a few other concepts including a program for engagement and cooperation as part of a festival, a term for informal settlements, and a mechanism for creating collaborative comedy. As community can move fluidly through different manifestations, so can this phrase.  In my personal circumstance technology was a huge factor in facilitating the community. We were able to connect through the internet as word traveled through Facebook, email and now, the blog.

So how can we use the capacity for spontaneous community to its full potential in both our work at TYTHE, in our daily lives and beyond times of emergency such as Sandy relief?  It is an initial reminder that community can be identified and formed at any time. Each of us is networked in such a multitude of ways that it would be exhausting to try to investigate them all. But when a catalyst invites us to recognize a new community it is a great reminder of our own power for connectivity.  Physical communities are fascinating because unlike a social community where you are connected through people, a physical community is connected to the space. To an extent, the space is an arbitrary connector and does not necessarily demand interaction. Every day there may be potential for interaction but the choice to engage remains each person’s own.

TYTHE is involved in a few projects currently that really explore the capacity for spontaneous communities to engage within their own physical space.  The Made in Lower East Side (miLES) project seeks to engage residents and business owners of the Lower East Side of New York to inhabit unused spaces for classes, workshops and creative experiences. The occupation of the spaces would be transient depending on the timeline of each project but it would seek to encourage individuals in the neighborhood to engage with each other about maximizing the vitality of their common space. Through the project, miLES is creating a structure for spontaneous communities to engage, possibly sparking more long-term communities to be established.

I wonder about the lasting impacts of these spontaneous communities. As they form, interact and often dissolve around the more permanent communities what legacy do they leave if any at all? I cannot speak to the experience of the communities directly affected by Sandy and how it has fundamentally shifted the shape of each. But the stories Kris repeatedly heard in Coney Island were about the moments of positive exchange, collaboration and cooperation and the common dismay that it takes a crisis to stimulate this aggregation of acts of kindness. Perhaps the role, then, of spontaneous communities is not one of legacy but one of revelation, an opportunity to illuminate the cooperative undercurrent that simmers between people, available to be tapped. And although it may be daunting to know this potential is ever-present, it may also be the most hopeful secret you keep.

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Sandy: how can we keep helping?

November 9, 2012 in Projects Worth Supporting

by Ellie Wendell – Communications and Biz Dev consultant at TYTHEdesign

We’ve gone back to work, and many of us have gotten power back, but Sandy’s not over.  With the recent snow storm and cold winter weather, the effects of the hurricane continue to threaten large populations of New York and New Jersey. There are numerous avenues through which to help but we have found it can be hard to know where and how to do so. Have you been struggling too in knowing when, where and how to help?

Here are some suggestions that have been useful for us and that might be helpful to you too:

1. Find opportunities through centralized sources.

Occupy Sandy
This site is a catchall for relief efforts including an interactive map of volunteer opportunities, updates on immediate need (Jacobi and 524 Clinton out of food as of today), how to purchase fresh direct orders and send them to local shelters, phone numbers and addresses for shelters and hubs of relief efforts, and a “wedding registry” from Amazon for key items to be donated to those in need. We also appreciate the often overlooked but much needed safety guidelines about volunteering and donating.  You can sign up to receive email updates from them to stay up-to-date on efforts.

#sandyvolunteer
If you have Twitter #sandyvolunteer is a centralized way to find out what efforts are going on minute to minute. Be mindful of course that it is Twitter and you may need to shuffle through a few tweets to find the ones that will best guide you.

2. Donate through organized channels and research most needed items.
To streamline yours and others’ donation efforts for efficiency and safety, we recommend going through organizations instead of your own direct distribution.  For your donations to have the greatest impact it is also best to have a clear idea of what the primary needs of the recipient organization are. We recommend calling or researching what might be needed through occupy sandy . For example, in New Jersey there were a few places that specifically asked for people to stop donating clothes and to donate items such as lip balm and hand sanitizer instead. There are still opportunities to donate clothes (Goodwill for example) but only clothes that are still of good quality are helpful.  A little bit of preparatory investigation will ensure you’re fulfilling an immediate need.

3. Sign up to help out.
There are a variety of opportunities to volunteer. We would recommend finding a service that organizes volunteers and works to match them with tasks and timelines compatible with what and when you can contribute. The benefit is that you can be matched with a task where you feel comfortable so that your time and efforts can be maximized.

Recovers.org: This website is an example of an organized way to approach volunteering or donating. The site is arranged by neighborhood so you can select the area where you would like to help out.

A couple of other sites to learn how to help out or to help out with:

Even if this week doesn’t work out for you to volunteer, there will be many opportunities for months to come. Balancing helping out and taking care of your own responsibilities can be challenging when the need of others is so great. Hopefully the momentum to help out will sustain for the lengthy timeline of recovery.  In the meantime, stay informed, stay safe, and when you can, lend a hand.

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Thoughts after Sandy

November 1, 2012 in TYTHE talks

by Ellie Wendell – Communications and Biz Dev consultant at TYTHEdesign

Hurricane Sandy has had a widespread and wide variety of impact throughout New York and the Northeast. In order to prepare for the storm state governments took decisive actions and disseminated information to warn those of their level of risk.  Beyond the centralized avenues of information were the independent sources of friends, families and colleagues, giving preparation advice and sharing concern. When our internet went down we had sources from Kansas City, MO, calling and telling us what they had heard on the news. Some of the primary facilitators of these exchanges of information were social media venues. Throughout the storm they have been a very helpful way to stay connected and gain information. To find out if friends are okay and how they’ve been impacted, checking Facebook & Twitter have been the go-to venues for information. An event like Sandy highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of social media in information sharing.

Its centralized access to a variety of people’s experiences (although lack of internet due to storm can of course affect connection) can be much more efficient that reaching out to all through group emails or individual texts. Information about people’s experiences is also much more readily available and we could learn through our friends’ real-time posts, tweets and instagrams how they were faring through the storm.  But sometimes the immediacy of the information and the variety of sources (our friends or who we follow on Twitter) can skew the veracity of the information.  When trying to use the information spread through Twitter to deduce what is happening on a larger scale, we are required to piece together the slices of information each person presents as either fact, hearsay, or impression. Complicating that filtration process is also each person’s tendency. Is one friend particularly dramatic? Is another overly calm?  The challenge then becomes what is true so that we can then react to that information either by re-tweeting or responding, or taking action.  As users of Twitter we are highly aware of the being at risk of furthering misinformation and found deciphering the truth to be one of the greatest challenges of following Twitter throughout the storm.

The Huffington Post included an article today also examining the strengths and weaknesses of social media but their angle was disaster response in regards to relief efforts. Their concern was that a lot of awareness is raised but not necessarily as much action taken, or that the action ends at a re-tweet as opposed to a donation or donated services. Disaster relief struggles in acquiring sustained donations. After a disaster hits there is often a surge in giving to help recovery efforts but after a few weeks or months have passed, the donations for that effort dwindle.

So, let’s prove all of the naysayers wrong with some action!  There are quite a few ways to contribute to Sandy relief.  We’ve put together a short list of ongoing efforts with different levels of involvement from volunteer work to donating blood to monetary donations.

The American Red Cross
Donate blood, volunteer or donate funds

The Salvation Army
Donate funds

The New York Food Bank
Volunteer or donate funds

Hopemob
Donate funds for NYC Rescue Mission

 DoGoodRightHere  has a list of local efforts including clean up & help at local shelters

Beyond this list there are many other ways to get involved and show support. Keep in mind why you want to contribute and that may direct how you decide to contribute and the impact of your efforts.  Hopefully we were more prepared this year because of Irene last year and in the coming years we’ll be even more prepared because of what happened with Sandy.  Social media such as Twitter and its use through disasters is still young. As we learn how to best navigate both its use as a tool and the users of the tool through disasters we improve our efficacy. So help out with Sandy efforts and Tweet the heck out of it!

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Water Canary

October 26, 2012 in Projects Worth Supporting

by Ellie Wendell – Biz Dev consultant at TYTHEdesign

When developing the social good store for the Feast Conference in October 2012 we reached out to conscientious companies with products informed by the idea of social good. We asked them a series of questions to help them tell their story of being a positive impact company.

Water Canary is addressing the global issue of water quality. Through the affordable technology of their “water canary”, individuals will be able to test the quality of water sources with real-time response.  The hope is that it will function as an early warning system to deter outbreaks of disease from contaminated water.  They aim to create the most effective forecasting system of unsafe water through a combination of accessibility, affordability and technology, equipping populations with the information and tools to avoid major disasters. Local implementation will have positive global effect.

Images from Water Canary website

Here are their thoughts on being a social venture.

What do you think it means to be an organization that contributes to social good?
I think it means going beyond insisting that things with high social value have a high economic value – it means putting those ideas on the line and figuring out a way that markets can make them a reality.

Does your product promote sustainability?
By delivering information that can help us better manage water resources, we’re aiming to eliminate waste, pollution, and unnecessary illness.

Does your product help build skills, create jobs or promote economic development (local and/or abroad)?
Eventually, we hope that installing/maintaining Water Canary devices can become a lucrative business for people across the developing world – creating with our hardware and software the foundation of a franchise that would help us reach every water source in need of monitoring.  By aligning our interests, we hope that our focus on data can create economic opportunity while simultaneously promoting better stewardship and quality of life in the areas we reach

Does your product aim to enhance quality of life?
We think that real-time water quality information will give us the ability to make better decisions in time to prevent isolated hazards from turning into large-scale emergencies.  Many of the tools required to contain contamination events already exist, but without up-to-date information, we rarely know when and where they are needed.  By meeting this need, we will help prevent unsafe water from causing unnecessary pollution, sickness and deaths.

Stay up to date with how Water Canary is changing the local economy and public health strategies of communities across the world by checking out their website. Keep up the good work Canary!

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Clean up with Common Good

October 18, 2012 in Projects Worth Supporting

by Ellie Wendell – Communications and Biz Dev Consultant at TYTHEdesign

When developing the social good store for the Feast Conference in October 2012 we reached out to conscientious companies with products informed by the idea of social good. We asked them a series of questions to help them tell their story of being a positive impact company.

Common Good offers a new approach to everyday cleaning supplies.  They are not only concerned about ingredients in their soap but also the impact empty soap containers have. Their products are pioneering the effort towards reuse and refill, encouraging new, more eco-friendly habits of their consumers. We at TYTHEdesign are a huge fan and think these are not only amazing products for cleaning but a wonderful model for positive sustainable behavior changes!


Images from common good website

Thank you Sasha and Dawn for being part of the Feat Pavilion – Social Good Store and taking the time to speak with us abou your great company.

What do you think it means to be an organization that contributes to social good?
Common Good is the name of our company- as well as one of our founding principles. We believe that the global economy is growing in a way that will increasingly require business to think about the impact that commerce has on the environment as well as the communities that they operate in. In our eyes, social good is not the enemy of business but instead an important ally.

Does your product promote sustainability?
Yes. Common Good launched in 2010 with biodegradable products that were safe, green and hardworking, and available in refill. We come at our products first as consumers- we wanted to make something that we’d want in our homes, products that work well and are reasonably priced, that are safe for our kids and pets to be around.

With everything that we do, we look to make the least amount of negative impact. Our products are concentrated, which cuts down on packaging waste as well as energy consumption. We use renewable plant based resources and no petrochemical ingredients. We never use phosphates, bleach, phthalates, optical brighteners or synthetic fragrance- all of which have negative effects on individuals and the environment.

Beyond using green formulas, we want Common Good to be at the forefront of modern refill. Packaging reuse is a critical issue; recycling is great but reuse is better- so much energy is expended in recycling bottles that can be used many times! We knew that design was going to be one of our best motivators; after all, who hasn’t purchased something in a bottle or box that was simply too beautiful to get rid of? We set out to create a product that people loved using and looking at in their home and a refill station that was efficient, economical and easily installed in any retail location. Response has been great; we’ve found that it’s something that consumers are ready for.

Does your product help build skills, create jobs or promote economic development (local and/or abroad)?
Common Good products are made in the USA, and manufactured locally. Manufacturing is widely noted as a critical sector for national economic growth and development, and when we work with a manufacturer, we’re contributing to the viability of green manufacturing.

Images from common good website

Does your product aim to be life changing?
In creating a product that reduces the amount of energy that is expended to recycle a bottle, or worse, the amount of garbage that ends up in a landfill or the ocean, we’re part of a positive change that is critical for the planet. The quality of life that we will all enjoy in the future is affected by the choices we collectively make today as consumers.

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Common good products can be found in over 22 states and 4 countries. Look here to find a distributor near you! And think twice, next time about tossing that empty container!

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TYTHE at Feast Conference

October 12, 2012 in Our Activity, Projects Worth Supporting

By Ellie Wendell – Communications and Biz Dev Consultant at TYTHEdesign

Last week was a whirlwind convergence of people, ideas and the grasping of worldwide potential in the Feast Conference for Social Innovation.  TYTHE collaborated with the organizers to contribute two key elements to the series of events. One was a custom activity designed to transform a group of friends meeting for dinner into a team of collaborators turning an idea for social change into tangible action steps.  The second was the Community Space and Social Good Store in the Feast Pavilion. The conference itself challenged convention with its creative approach to engaging people, (both attendees and the public), and daring them to take charge in the effort to create ripples of positive impact. We were pleased to be able to contribute to the expanse of the conference’s impact.

The Feast Pavilion and Social Good Store

On October 5th and 6th, the Feast hosted the Pavilion, a play on the World’s Fair. Artists converted a vacant building into a space for installations and TYTHE transformed it into a space to highlight innovative organizations and products reinventing how we consume. Our approach to the Social Good Store was to provide a space for conscientious consumption and active understanding of the positive impact products and one’s consumption of those products can have.  The store aimed to demonstrate the wide spectrum of social good products, not only in the type of product but the variety of ways in which they can contribute.  We simplified ‘social good’ into four categories to help each product and company, tell its story.  The categories were “Sustainability, Social Business, Economic Development and Life Changing”. Each product and/or company fit into at least one of these categories.

Holstee’s products, for example, not only create useful, attractive daily items from recycled sources (such as a wallet from old newspapers and plastic bags from Delhi), but also utilized the micro-lending organization Kiva to support entrepreneurs in developing countries. Obos create brightly colored interactive toys for kids from eco-friendly material as they pioneer in the crusade against plastic toy pile-up. Facilitating opportunity for artisan work in developing countries, Rubina sells chic products co-designed by artisans and designers in developing countries to support their personal and local economic development while preserving traditional techniques in artistry.

TYTHE invited Given Goods, an online marketplace for social good products to stock the store with products they sell on their website.  Cameron Houser, the driver of GG collaborated with TYTHE in providing 44% of the items for sale, such as Smile Squared, a buy one give one toothbrush company and the LuminAID light created for post-natural disaster use through its affordable, renewable design including being solar powered and floatable.  Throughout the event, Devon, the fearless representative from GG was on hand to chat to customers about products, set up displays and humor us with his pining for Keith Sweat songs.  Their collaboration was essential to the success of the store and we can’t thank them enough!
Smile Squared toothbrushes, Given Goods, LuminAID light

The Community Spaces was a collection of interactive exhibits set up by innovative organizations. Makeshift, a print and online magazine that highlights creative design occurring in the world’s informal economies displayed examples of the creations touted in their publication.  The Adventure Project demonstrated the capacity of their irrigation pump, one of the social ventures investors can support through their organization. Sparking debate about affordable housing and the tools available to navigate the often enigmatic subject were provided by the Center for Urban Pedagogy an organization that facilitates dialogue in communities about their role in urban development.  Engaging passersby in reflection on the potential of their immediate community was the made in Lower East Side (miLES) project that seeks to maximize the capacity of unused spaces in the neighborhood with a circulation of creative classes, workshops and projects.
miLES exhibit, CUP’s Affordable Housing Kit, Rubina’s designer clutches

There are a few people we would like to thank for helping us with the event. Assisting TYTHE was Mika Braakman, the founder and curator of Model Citizens, the platform for independent and emerging design. Using her artful expertise in pop-up shops, she played an integral role in creating the look and feel of the display. Toby Gardner from Brooklyn Woods, a woodwork skills training organization for unemployed and low-income New Yorkers, provided wood for signage and for diversifying the displays; an essential element to the store.

Kris from TYTHE also wants to thank Ellie Wendell, Joseph Eberle, Jeff Namnum, Amanda Yogendran, Samia Grand-Pierre, Dan Shafer, Tiff Burnette and Nick Oxley. We couldn’t have had such success if it weren’t for the ingenuity and support of this group of people. A huge thank you to you all!

To see more images of the Pavilion check out TYTHE’s Facebook page.Here is the full list of contributors to the store. Each has an interesting story so we recommend you check them out!

Brooklyn Woods, Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, Common Good, Center for Urban Pedagogy, Obos, Rubina, designing hope, Given Goods Co., Makeshift Magazine, Greenaid Seedbombs, Matter Inc., Holstee, Marlandia, Gaggle of Tees, Tilonia, The Adventure Project, Be Free, Smile Squared, Half United, Nisolo, LuminAID, Back to the Roots, Raven & Lily, Jack’s Soap

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TYTHE at Social Good Summit

October 3, 2012 in Projects Worth Supporting, TYTHE talks

by Ellie Wendell – Communications and Biz Dev Consultant at TYTHEdesign

On Saturday, September 22nd, TYTHE attended the Social Good Summit held at the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side. The conference, a brainchild of Mashable, aims to engage a broader audience in the conversation on global development issues and the role of new media in providing solutions.  It is intentionally held during UN Week to feed off of the convergence of many of the world’s leading decision-makers and influencers.  From the introductory recording of Secretary Clinton, to the UN’s Helen Clark, to Mashable’s own Pete Cashmore, the idea of expanding access to a global conversation seemed at the forefront of the summit. I attended only Saturday so my reflections are informed by what I experienced that day – so although I refer to the summit in general terms, please note I am really speaking specifically to my one day experience and generalizing certain tenets to the entire conference.

The conference is its own effort to increase exposure and participation in global good conversations – Cashmore himself touting the summit as “…the biggest global good conversation happening in the world”. Indeed, the proceedings were being translated into six different languages, being live-streamed for those who couldn’t attend in person, being offered  at an affordable rate and there were facilitated meet-ups around the world on Monday, the final day of the conference.  I don’t know the exact counts or locations of the meet-up but I appreciate all of the concurrent effort to reach as many people as they could.


Pete Cashmore of Mashable and the Chinese Translation booth. Images from Mashable

Facilitating access and participation is currently a central theme in international development (not to mention community development). Innovations in technology and new media have been able to increase access to the development process whether it is an easier way to engage donors, or an initiative to supplement health systems in developing countries.  Josh Nesbitt, the founder of Medic Mobile, an organization that has been using the ubiquity of mobile phones in developing countries to connect communities and health services, shared at the conference that he essentially has identified that the technological infrastructure in some countries far exceeds the physical infrastructure. His organization and others as well look to the more intact infrastructure to service what the physical, traditional infrastructure, currently cannot. The revelation and choice of action has provided access to health information and services to previously disconnected communities. Todd Park, the Chief Technology Officer from the White House, a very exuberant and dynamic speaker, touted the U.S.’ ever growing base of open data initiatives as an open resource, providing free access to individuals and organizations.


Todd Park from The White House and TMS “Teddy” Ruge from Project Diaspora. Images from Mashable

As wonderful as access may be, it needs a counterpart to transition from input to desired output. Jill Sheffield, the President of Women Deliver, an advocacy organization that supports safe motherhood and gender equality primarily in developing countries, noted that technology is a fantastic tool, but it is the people that use the technology that make the real difference.  Echoing her sentiment was Frog Design’s Robert Fabricant, a practitioner of human center design, stating that people’s interaction with the technology determines impact. Participation can be more elusive than access at times. It can be much less controlled than providing access and depends on, among other circumstances, the volition of the individuals or groups being provided access. This inherently suggests a need to establish a shared set of values around the issue, technology, or initiative between those providing access and those providing the participation.   TYTHE encounters this intriguing conundrum in its community engagement and development work, from street interviews for community feedback to engaging in a newly provided resource.

The method, at least for now, as promoted by the conference is dialogue. Whether it is facilitated by technology or the old face to face version, exchanging ideas, values and concerns can lead to shared understanding and commitment. I appreciate the conversations I was able to see through the various presenters throughout the afternoon.  The format of the summit was a revolving door of interesting panels and speakers discussing and promoting the work they do for global good. As audience members we sat in the crowd and watched the speakers come and go on stage. At one point TMS “Teddy” Ruge was sitting behind me as an audience member before taking the stage to speak on behalf of Project Diaspora.  He chatted with the people next to him about the common interests between them and his organization and am pretty sure there was an exchange of contacts and noted resources.  By being there I was not immediately in any conversation. But texting and Twitter gave those not attending access to audience members’ perspectives on the conversations and my attendance gave me access to the ideas. Since then I have participated in a multitude of conversations about themes and ideas brought up at the conference.  With my participation and that of other attendees and speakers, the summit self realizes with the sustained continuation of the global dialogue.

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