In early 2009, Sethi launched her biggest initiative to date, a national campaign that encourages schoolchildren across India to participate in a one-week project to change some aspect of life in their own communities. With only a few months' lead time, she bravely vowed to involve 20,000 schools and 100,000 students. In fact, 32,274 schools across India participated in the "Design for Giving School Contest", and hundreds of thousands of school kids were involved. Participants entered as student teams represented through a classroom, grade, or school. Having been invited to "redesign" their communities, winners were chosen based on their projects' impact according to the number of people affected, quickest impact, maximum potential for long-lasting change, easiest to replicate, and most environmentally friendly. A special Gandhi Prize was also awarded—all projects take place the week of October 2, the revered leader's birthday.
The thousands of projects submitted to the "Design for Giving School Contest" ranged across nine languages and diverse imperatives. Among them: Save Our Mangroves, Help Reach the Unreachables, Avoid Transgender Discrimination, Care for and Protect the Homeless, and Stop Child Marriages. Also proposed were Collect Plastic Bags Week, Playground for Children, Dignified Attire, and a Stop Spitting Campaign. My favorite proposal came from a village where the crematorium was located next to the schoolyard. Children who had clear sightings of burials during recess organized to petition the town council to erect a wall blocking their view. The wall doubled as a space for posting public announcements. Per the contest's stipulations, this project too was accomplished within a week.
Read Bill's complete post here, and watch last year's award ceremony below. I am privileged to be a jury member on this year's competition, and will share some favorite projects in the fall. (TEDtalk here.)
Allan Chochinov is a partner of Core77, a New York-based design network serving a global community of designers and design enthusiasts, and Chair of the new MFA in Products of Design graduate program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Allan lectures around the world and at professional conferences including IDSA, AIGA and IxDA, has been a guest critic at various design schools in including Yale University, IIT, Carnegie Mellon, Ravensbourne, RMIT, University of Minnesota, Emily Carr, and RISD. He has moderated and led workshops and symposia at the Aspen Design Conference, the Rockefeller Center at Bellagio, Compost Modern, and Winterhouse, and is a frequent design competition juror. Prior to Core77, his work in product design focused on the medical, surgical, and diagnostic fields, as well as on consumer products and workplace systems. He has been named on numerous design and utility patents and has received awards from The Art Directors Club, I.D. Magazine, Communication Arts, and The One Club.