We’re taking a moment to celebrate history in light of "BEAUTY BRAINS BRAWN and Beyond." January 2013 will mark a monumental time in history when 20 women will hold seats in the U.S. Senate. Although our political institutions are still overwhelmingly male-dominated, this is a huge step in the right direction and a revolutionary moment for all people. We as male and female designers know that keeping balance is the key to inspiration and innovation for the common good.
This year's Clinton's Global Annual Initiative theme: "Designing For Impact," explored how the Initiative community can utilize their abundance of global capacity to invent better tools, build more effective interventions, and work creatively and collaboratively to design a future worth pursuing. Inspired by their theme, designedCOLLECTIVE panelists also spoke to the impact of design and their role of intention:
"It was always our intent to change the face of politics. But the idea wasn't only to change the face of politics and help women come into power, it was really about changing how we do business in this country. Because unless we have everyone at the table, we’re not coming up with the solutions we really need. If we don’t have all the great brains—that is men, women, people of color—together coming up with a solution, we're not going to make it. And it's not [just] the planet, it's humanity," Dorka Keehn of Emerge America and Ignite explained.
Emerge America identifies, trains and encourages women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office. They currently run their programs in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin. Ignite however, much like Emerge also serves women yet focuses on those between the ages of 14-22 in lower income communities.
Studies have shown that women just don’t run for office at the same rates as men—despite competence levels. And why aren't women running as often? Because most women aren't encouraged to.
"Our model brings the program to any community that wants it, then within that community, builds a cadre of young women who first become civically engaged, then become civic leaders, and ultimately pursue elective office,” Anne Moss, founder of Ignite said.
To hear more about Emerge and listen to what Dorka had to say during the designedCOLLECTIVE, click here:
More Than Me, Katie Meyler's brainchild, also focuses on little girls and takes them off of the street in Liberia, West Africa and into school. They provide tuition, school supplies and uniforms for their students—creating a strong foundation of empowerment for growth.
"I grew up really poor... but there were always people who loved me and believed in me. Because people believed in me, I wanted to pay it forward and believe in others. When I’m with the girls I’m intentional about showing them that they have a purpose, that they are loved and that they are beautiful," Katie said during the discussion.
According to More Than Me, when a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. An extra year of primary school boosts girls' eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent. When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man. When we invest in girls — we all win. Our communities are stronger. Our families are healthier. -And, our collective future is brighter.
Katie's passion for service is evident from our designedCOLLECTIVE conversation. Click here to see her speak:
Intention and service emerged as predominant themes during this year's designedCOLLECTIVE.
"The intention for the kids was for them to feel their beauty and power." That's Laura Guido-Clark, founder of Project Color Corps. "The intention was to [create value]. When you come from a sense of lack and you don’t have something that mirrors who you are on the inside, [We wanted] to create the beauty that I saw in each and everyone of them—externally. We call it Optical Optimism!"
Laura is referring to the students at E.C. Reems academy—one of the projects that has transformed the life of young children through color. Using color as a change agent is their motto. Project Color Corps passionately committed to its first large-scale pilot project at the E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts in Oakland, CA where they painted the school’s exterior with a color palette and pattern, creating a hopeful environment that reflects the unique voice of the school community. Laura's message is clearly and passionately displayed during our discussion:
-And that's how it comes full circle, because everyone has worth. Each woman and their organizations focus on the story of each child or emerging woman. All of their stories are told through different vehicles of intention and expression. Education, empowerment and color are all agents of change. When you come from a home, a school, or a room that is designed with intention and love, you embody love. When you have a workplace that represents you both through spirit and demographic, you thrive. Within the right environment we can come up with ideas and innovative solutions that make this nation and world a magnificent place to live.
Madeline Kunin, former Governor and US Ambassador said that "while pessimists are usually right, it's optimists that change the world!"- With Optical Optimisim we can start a revolution of ideas and spread beauty wherever we go. After all, it's up to us to design a world in which we want to live.