A Better World by Design 2014, the Real Payoff

Global Forest Watch presents at A Better World by Design
Now I know for sure that attending A Better World by Design (AWBxD) this year was well worth it. When I talked with my students who were able to attend this design conference in Providence, Rhode Island, there was palpable excitement. All but two of my intro to environmental science students made it to ABWxD, and we had a blast sharing the things that really stood out to us during those 3 days of talks and workshopes on the Brown University and RISD campuses, like these…

Global Forest Watch tracks forest fires and wind patternsSarah Mann Carolyn Ciciarelli from Global Forest Watch showed us their interactive web platform for examining deforestation, forest fires and more—an amazing way to look at tree data all over the world. Global Forest Watch also makes APIs that allow people to utilize forest data for their own specific analyses. The blurry image here shows how their platform couples forest fire and wind data to provide insights on air quality—AWESOME! 

Ellen Jorgensen told us about the DIY biology lab in New York Genspace and the interesting projects that have been done there. It was fabulous to find out that there’s a place where almost anyone can get some training to then carry out some modern biology experiments. One artist got DNA from things like gum stuck to sidewalks, then analyzed it for information related to physical appearance and 3D printed “portraits” of what these people whose DNA she got a hold of might look like.

Melissa Mongiat and Eva Schindling of Daily tous les jours described the ideas and design process behind their interactive urban art projects, like these swings that make music when people enjoy them together. Looks like a lot of fun! I hope more people will be able to experience some public art akin to the projects Melissa and Eva put together.

The Swings: An Exercise in Musical Cooperation from Daily tous les jours on Vimeo.

The energetic post-ABWxD discussion I had with students (many of whom had never been to a conference before) reminded me that the greatest value of events like ABWxD is tied to its nature as a shared experience—we’re brought closer to each other by encountering then talking about (and grappling with) stunning new ideas together.

The other things I could have done with $500 this past weekend don’t have nearly that kind of meaningful impact.

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