10 Actions to Get Involved in Public Interest Design

Maybe it’s just the conversations I’m involved in, but it seems like everyone is talking about social impact entrepreneurship, projects, and organizations. But what about for those who are just joining the conversation? Where do you begin? Or perhaps you’re looking to switch up your activity list. In any case, check out these actions below and choose one to take up this week!

Action #1: Register for Public Architecture’s 1% program

Is your firm on the list? If so, find out what non-profit near you is in need of design services this year and create a partnership. And if your firm is not, sign up to dedicate 1% of your working time this year to providing design services to a non-profit of your choice. You may even find a paying client!

Action #2: Participate in your local OPEN ARCHITECTURE COLLABORATIVE CHAPTER

Architecture for Humanity has a multitude of projects that are in need of designers, along with chapters in need of leaders. There are currently 56 active chapters so you’re most likely able to find one close to you. And if there isn’t one near you, you can always start one!

Action #3: Attend a Social Enterprise/Innovation/Entrepreneur Meet Up

Check out the website and do a search with ‘social enterprise,’ ‘social innovation,’ or ‘social entrepreneur’ and I’m sure you’ll find a group of like-minded do-gooders to gain inspiration and share your passions.

Action #4: Read

One of my favorite pastimes is indulging in a good book that inspires me into action or puts a smile on my face. Check out our list of books and links page full of amazing resources already out there!

Action #5: Attend Your Local Council Meeting

Find out first hand what matters most to your neighbors. You may even stumble upon a new cause to take up. Plus being more neighborly is always a positive.

Action #6: Support a Local Project

The web is teeming with hyper-local project platforms where I’m sure you’re able to find something to support:

  • Kickstarter’s Discover page allows you to search by City
  • Indiegogo also has a location search under their browse header
  • Ioby’s crowd-funding platform focuses on environmental neighborhood improvements
  • Neighborland provides a place for people to suggest and back improvements
Action #7: Join a Community Group that piques your interest

It’s amazing to see what people come together to do, and I’m certain that there are some groups in your neighborhood that you may have never known existed. Look for ads posted in your local newspaper, check out your community center’s calendar, keep an eye out for flyers posted at grocery stores, coffee shops, and cafes, and ask your friends and neighbors what they’re involved in.

Action #8: Watch a TED Talk

Now this can get a little out of hand. I’ve been known to start watching one, just one, and then end up hours later having watched eight. But start with one and you’ll probably find many more to put on ‘to watch’ list. Here is one of my favorites to get started.

Action #9: Volunteer

Non-profits and community organizations are constantly looking for dedicated volunteers to provide a helping hand. When I lived in New York, I signed up with New York Cares and tutored a middle school student each week and participated in weekend activities when I was free. There are a plethora of websites now to find a weekly, monthly, or one-time commitment. Check out VolunteerMatch, HandsOn Network, Volunteering England, Do-It, and Idealist.org

Action #10: Learn

Take a class through your local community college or university. Look at Skillshare’s list of classes, many of which are online. Check out Coursera, Lynda, and Udemy for on-line courses covering subjects in design, business, and computing. Listen to a podcast, such as HBR IdeaCast or Design Matters with Debbie Millman. The learning options these days seem virtually limitless.

How might you apply this information to your own career? Comment in the box below and click ‘post’! 

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