Of all the social design projects, this one makes quite the impact!
Donor Cable Project – brainchild of Y&R Moscow partnered with NAR Mobile is a bracelet that can be used to donate power from one smartphone to another. A bracelet was provided on purchase of a new android phone at all NAR mobile outlets. Inside the bracelet, a simple message that drove the idea home ‘Donate energy to save a phone, and donate blood to save a life.’
Situating the project in Azerbaijan, which has the world’s highest number of children born with the blood disorder thalassemia, a hereditary disease primarily found among Mediterranean cultures. The illness requires extensive blood transfusions for babies, and hospitals often lack the needed amount of donated blood. The project is said to have driven blood donation up by 335%
What is interesting is that at the core of the project, it’s not just the cable but the advent of a new habit: battery donation. It could create a community around new way of charging a phone – charge donation. And to connect it with the blood donation, translates the idea in a real life social situation. Critical design has always been about the creation of alternative visions. Designs that cause reflections. Donor Cable forces reflection among the users of the device and aims to provoke other ways of being. It is a model that proposes the change in ethnography of the area. A powerful project that could alter culture and behavioral practices of mobile phone using community.
My sustainable futures research revealed some interesting statistics. The food and agriculture industry are equal contributors for global warming and climate change when pitched against the oil and steel companies (the ratio is 57% – 43%). What is more alarming is that cows are responsible for almost 15% to 18% of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions in the world! One could dismiss this for a vegan propaganda. But UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report lists it as an alarming wake up call for the meat lovers of the world. Before arriving on critical questions in this research, the fields of study ought to be defined.
Considering the project is a critique on fuel-farming, Ethics is an important field of the study on the matter. Applied Ethics, animal rights and bio ethics. Raging debate on bio ethics is the current debate on labeling ‘genetically modified food’. The primary field of study for the project is Bio technology, Bio-chemistry, cattle physiology and Chemical Engineering. Anthropology, gene culture co-evolution, medical anthropology and population genetics help understand the patents on seeds by Monsanto which has driven farmers in India and Brazil to commit suicide. The supply-demand model of economics help understand agricultural economics and ecological economics. The project also deals with Evolutionary Psychology in acceptance of Etymophagy. Evolutionary psychologists argue that much of human behavior is the output of psychological adaptations that evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments. An interesting project in Sustainable Civics is Pam Warhurst – the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land in TodModern into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community. Environmental Sociology gives the project an understanding of human interventions in environment. Sustain-ability has become about saving humanity rather than the planet. Without sustainability we’re doomed and without us, the environmental problems will self correct.
In the world of fast consumerism, ‘Service Design’ is often misconstrued. It is not only about the products/brands but about the people, their needs and aspirations. Services these days have become increasingly synonymous with experiences and experiences with emotions. In context of social design coupled with service design, this project took my breath away.
A group of Brazilian students wanted to practice their English speaking skills while retirement home residents in America simply wanted someone to talk to. CNA language school network launched the Speaking Exchange project with FCB Brasil, which connected students in Brazil with elderly Americans in old-age homes. So beautiful is the result, it moved me to tears.
“It’s exciting to see their reactions and contentment. It truly benefits both sides.”
From the videos posted one can gauge the happiness of both parties. Long distance hugs, ‘I love you’s, and ‘my new grandaughter’ – moving stuff! Social and service design doesn’t necessarily have to deal with a product, nor a grim subject. Sometimes, the simplest ideas are truly the most brilliant.