As I prepare for the talk I’m giving next week on “Designing for Cities” at the DSVC National Student Show, I’ve had to think a lot about what I’ve started to think of as design citizenship. From my notes:
An important part of design citizenship, of designing things in order to enhance and edify the conversations between citizens in your city, and perhaps your world, is to become a participant not only in the process, but in the result. By this I mean, if I were to only design for these [cultural events] based on some creative briefs and a Google Doc of copy, I’m not designing from a citizen’s point-of-view. I’m designing from a contractor’s point-of-view.
When it comes to designing for cities, and therefore for the people in cities, the difference between client services and cultural collaboration is your physical presence, and willingness to participate beyond your discipline. Approaching your projects from this perspective will only make you more informed, more, excited, and more qualified to do the work well.
This is somewhat echoed in a quote from Katherine McCoy that I ran across today:
“We must stop inadvertently training our students to ignore their convictions and be passive economic servants. Instead, we must help them to clarify their personal values and to give them the tools to recognize when it is appropriate to act on them.”
The question then become, of course, how do we do this as design educators? How do we support the growth of ideology in tandem with a more tactile design skillset, and how do we do this without imposing ideology on them, whether that ideology be cultural or aesthetic? How does this relate to citizenship? This is my great struggle at the moment.