“Put smart, diverse people into a room together and magic will happen.”
This is the great myth of collaboration. And yet as designers, facilitators, and conveners who engage diverse actors to solve complex social issues, we have witnessed many co-creation exercises fall into this trap. So, how do we turn this around? How can we lead collaborative efforts where the “magic” is intentionally designed for, and not just hoped for?
The Design With podcast series was created to help us explore these questions head on. Together with some of the leading dreamers and doers who have inspired our own work, we dive into groundbreaking case studies of thoughtful, transformative collaborations that build connection and shift power. We explore the in’s and out’s of coalition-building, and discuss the theory and practice of how communities, civil society, and institutions can creatively problem-solve together.
Reboot has always remained deeply invested in the question of how to bring about social change, often coming up against the complexities that this type of work requires. We see the Design With series as a medium to explore the mysteries of how change happens, with leaders who are finding ways to break through. This series provides an urgent and necessary perspective for changemakers who are curious about co-design, others who may be mid-process and in need of inspiration, and others still coming to terms with the living, breathing, iterative nature of design solutions.
A note: All of these conversations were recorded before the outbreak of Covid-19. Our initial roll out was meant for March; however, we waited to release these due to the need to uplift emergency response and health messaging. While the pandemic still widespread, we feel that the time is right to share the expertise in these episodes, as it might help as we start looking towards the future.
For Adam Kahane, co-design was a calling—one that he discovered in 1991 when he actually received a phone call asking him to help facilitate planning for South Africa’s monumental transition from apartheid to democracy. In this episode, Adam shares what he has learned in the 30 years since that fateful call: how to find strength in humility, negotiate for peace in the absence of trust, and bust the myth that innovation = magic.
Adam Kahane is a Director of Reos Partners, an international social enterprise that helps people move forward together on their most important and intractable issues. Adam is a leading organizer, designer, and facilitator of processes through which business, government, and civil society leaders can work together to address challenges. He has worked in more than fifty countries in every part of the world, with executives, politicians, generals, guerrillas, civil servants, trade unionists, community activists, United Nations officials, clergy, and artists.
Adam is a best-selling author and his most recent book is Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust.
How do you design what is arguably the largest, longest running co-creation project in history? Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the nonprofit behind Wikipedia, tells us how the online encyclopedia defied all odds to become a millions-strong stakeholder exercise; and how the Wikimedia Foundation uses co-design everyday to build the infrastructure for a global, free knowledge movement.
Katherine Maher is the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. She is a longtime advocate for free and open societies, and has lived and worked around the world leading the introduction of technology and innovation in human rights, good governance, and international development. Katherine has worked with UNICEF, the National Democratic Institute, the World Bank, and Access Now on programs supporting technologies for democratic participation, civic engagement, and open government.
She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Human Rights and a fellow at the Truman National Security Project. She is on the Board of the Sunlight Foundation, the Digital Public Library of America, and the American University of Beirut.
What began as a 24-hour design challenge addressing racial inequality in Ferguson, MO has since grown into a powerful organization fighting inequity with its own brand of collaborative design. Antionette Carroll, founder of Creative Reaction Lab, speaks about Equity-Centered Community Design—and how Black and Latinx youth are using design as their tool of choice to dismantle the very systems designed to exclude them.
Antionette D. Carroll is the Founder and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab, a nonprofit social enterprise designing healthy and racially equitable communities for Black and Latinx populations. Throughout her career, Antionette has worked for social justice, human rights, and diversity and inclusion nonprofits—with her last position being head of communications for Diversity Awareness Partnership.
Within her almost 10 years of volunteer leadership, Antionette was named the Founding Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force of AIGA, where she also served as a National Board Director. Additionally, she is the co-founder of the Design + Diversity Conference and Fellowship and an active member of Adobe’s Design Circle, as well as a TED Fellow.
Ever wondered how the design of our cities influences the way we live? In this episode, Betsy MacLean and Nisha Baliga of Hester Street discuss the many facets of collaboration in their urban planning and design work: from crafting conversations that uncover people’s lived experiences, to disrupting power systems that intentionally keep folks out of decisions concerning their own neighborhoods and communities.
Nisha Baliga is the Co-Executive Director of Hester Street. She has over 15 years of experience working to create equitable and resilient cities. Before Hester Street, Nisha spent a decade at the Urban Design and Planning Studio at Beyer Blinder Belle. In her role as Senior Planner for the Aga Khan University, Nisha worked and lived in Arusha, Tanzania for two years.
At Hester Street, Nisha has led teams developing large-scale projects involving infrastructure, resiliency, arts and culture, health, open space and urban planning for entities including CreateNYC and Cities RISE. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, Next City’s 2019 Vanguard cohort and is a 2019 Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics Impact participant.
Betsy MacLean is the Co-Executive Director of Hester Street, where she and her team work to provide low-income communities with the tools they need to shape their built environment. She has been engaged in groundbreaking sustainable community development work for more than 15 years. She previously worked in East New York as the Director of Community Development at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, where she spearheaded the community-driven design and construction of Brooklyn’s first green public school.
Betsy’s projects have earned The The Alliance for a Greater New York’s Movement Builders award, ioby’s Heroes in our Backyard award, and the Boston Society for Architects’ Excellence in Affordable Housing award.
Host: Panthea Lee
Producer: Alyssa Kropp
Music Composition & Sound Mix: Meagan Rodriguez
Asst. Producer: Kisha Bwenge
Graphic Design: Adam Parker
With support from our Design Fellows: max stearns and Lauren Suiter