The First Step to Measure Impact

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“Measure impact.” The mantra for 2014 is penetrating all industries—for profit, non-profit, and the emerging social enterprise—and is demanding to define and display outcomes in both qualitative and quantitative forms. Search for ‘measure impact’ on Google and you will be hit with an overwhelming 385,000,000 results.

As I wrote a few weeks ago here, measuring and sharing impact is crucial for design organizations with social, environmental, and economic goals—even if it’s hard to do. As SROI Network CEO Jeremy Nicholls wrote in this Guardian article as a rebuttal to social investment firm Panahpur CEO James Perry’s article,

Just because measuring social impact is hard to do, this doesn’t mean we should give up.

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These 3 Fellowships Will Change Your Perception of Public Service Design

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What happens between obtaining an architecture degree and a practicing license typically goes one of three ways: work, return to a university for post-grad studies, or abandon the profession altogether. However, this window of opportunity has the potential to be much more exploratory, both creatively and professionally. Coming out of school, graduates are brimming with excitement, full of ideas, skills, and hopes for how to change the world one building at a time. Soon thereafter however, reality settles in and the creative, gravity-defying 3D models draped in mesh surfaces give way to monotonous drawings of restrooms, elevator shafts, and staircases. (Don’t get me wrong—service and circulation spaces are some of the most important elements of a building.) But how might someone bridge the gap between education and practice by continuing creative interests and grounding oneself in the practicalities of design and building?

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Compassion, Humility, and Commitment to Place: Interview with AzuKo’s Jo Ashbridge

The breathtaking video above opened my eyes (and flooded them with tears) to an architect who encompassed the humility, connection, passion, and a grounded sensibility for humanitarian architecture and construction.

Jo Ashbridge–now Director at the new public interest design charity AzuKo–shared the history, research, design, and construction of an earthen home project she had worked on in Bangladesh during a talk at the RIBA (here is the visually rich and informative report about the project.) But it was this video that illuminated the raw emotion and deep understanding of place that drives her commitment and passion for the work.Continue Reading

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Reawakening Architecture through ‘Sensing Spaces’

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I’ve been jaded with the architecture industry. Finding myself immersed in an insular community with deep competition between ego-driven personalities, I went through the training and licensing process vigorously to only emerge with the question, “Is this really what it’s all about?”

The humanitarian design community was a welcome relief. Tackling wicked issues drew people from all walks of life who wanted to share, collaborate, and grow together. I’ve slowly immersed myself over the years in this community of do-good designers and distanced myself from traditional practice.

At times I miss the strong sense of community backed by centuries of experience and traditions–the sweet comfort of a well-oiled professional machine.Continue Reading

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How to Achieve Purpose through Inclusivity

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A few nights ago my stomach was rumbling as I chopped vegetables for a quick dinner before I went back to the computer. The day had been full of writing, responding to emails from friends and colleagues, and capped with a long project meeting before I made my way home. I thought to myself, “Life is really good right now. I’m happy with work. I’m healthy. I’m getting to cook tonight and eat a good meal. And, I’m doing all this while living overseas—a dream that I’ve had since my first trip out of the US at 16 years old.” At that moment I realized how content I am. This is exactly where I want to be. Nowhere else, just right here.

The beckoning call for those of us born in 1980 and after sounds like this: Find your Purpose! Pursue your Passion! Follow your Dreams! Millennials—myself included—are undertaking an ambitious, idealistic lifestyle change where play and work become one—the life of “Do What You Love. Love What You Do.”Continue Reading

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