Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blog It Forward: What Inspires Me?

We interrupt our regularly (or irregularly as of late) scheduled posts on the 10 Things That Make Me Happy to take part in sfgirlbybay's Blog It Forward! And if this is your first time at this little blog, welcome!

Just a quick bit about me...I work full time for an affordable housing developer in San Francisco, but in my time away from work, I'm a daily contributor to Apartment Therapy, a photo intern for the San Francisco Arts Commission, an assistant to my artist husband and I sometimes dabble into being an artist myself. I'm also hoping (I'll know in a month!!) to start grad school this fall. Since starting my blog this summer and putting myself out there, great things have really started to happen and I've finally found a direction I'm excited to steer myself in. Here is more about the inspiration that is continuing my drive in that direction.

Volume Inc.'s proposal to deal with the large amount of trash bins in San Francisco as part of GOOD Design SF.

I'm a very visual person so normally I'm inspired by what I see, but lately I've been inspired more by what others are doing. About six months ago, I had an Aha! moment regarding design (my design background is primarily in web and print design). I attended a presentation at SPUR sponsored by GOOD Magazine where city departments gave problems to local design firms and the firms then presented their solutions. My working life has been spent wavering between design/art and public service. I had never been able to find something I could do that would satisfy my needs to both be creative and help the greater good. And in this presentation, design was used to create solutions to make San Francisco better and it was fantastic! It all made sense right then and there. Within four months I had applied to CCA's MBA program in Design Strategy.

Since then, I've been working hard to learn more about this movement to design with a conscience. Almost simultaneously, I came across this book, saw an interview with the author, Emily Pilloton, on The Colbert Report and was given the opportunity to interview her for Apartment Therapy.

To call that interview inspiring is such an understatement. Emily is working hard to promote humanitarian design and to inspire the next generation of designers. She is currently on a 6,300 mile road trip with the Design Revolution Road Show taking 40 examples of this design to high schools and colleges around the country. And if that's not enough, she also runs a nonprofit, Project H Design, that is working to open a high school in the poorest county in North Carolina that combines design thinking, vocational trade skills training, and community citizenship to equip low-opportunity teenagers with critical creative problem solving skills for life. Wow, right? (If you want to help this initiative, be sure to vote for them to receive a $50,000 grant through Pepsi's Refresh Everything program.)

Some of the products in the Design Revolution Road Show.

Now, I realize not all of us are ready to move into an Airstream and travel around the country, but Emily put all of this into perspective for me. At the end of our interview she said, "We all have a different skill set and you can apply it to things that matter and you can apply it to things that don't." That's a philosophy I can definitely get behind!

Phew, if you made it here, thanks for indulging my lack of brevity! Be sure to check in with the window ledge tomorrow to find out what inspires her. If you missed Rachel's starter Blog it Forward post on Smile and Wave, be sure to read it now. And thanks again to Victoria of sfgirlbybay! I can't wait to read what inspires the 300 bloggers she pulled together for this awesome project!


  1. Your collage inspiration is an inspiration.

  2. Jess, you are not a windbag! You are amazing!

    You are a mover and a shaker. Gosh. You are doing a lot of amazing things simultaneously -- definitely an inspiration. I am going to read your interview with Emily now. I am so keen on things like this!

    And...thank you for your comment today. I was so nervous about my post that I hardly slept a wink.

  3. wow, jessica! your post is so inspiring, and so meaningful. lovely ideas and projects you've got planned. and, i would love to own an airstream and take it on the road! thanks again for joining us! :)

  4. Hey Jessica! Take it from me - the queen of long-windedness - you are not at all a windbag. And your inspiration? Is SO inspiring!

    Thanks for so much visual and reading goodness, and for giving me another reason to be glad I live in San Francisco.

  5. Love the post. Terrific inspiration and a great quote..."We all have a different skill set and you can apply it to things that matter and you can apply it to things that don't."

    I also want an airstream to take on the road!

  6. this is fascinating, it's my favorite from today's blog it forward.

    i needed a reminder about design for common good today. i really miss living in the bay area and being surrounded by such positive engagement and action.

    congratulations and best of luck at CCA- it's a great school.

  7. another blogger from the city (SF)- yah! i love Apartment Therapy too. i had some friends that went to CCA, i almost went there as well but changed my focus to Green Building (i'm a contractor). thanks for sharing!

  8. Loved reading this — so inspiring, and it was wonderful to see who inspires you, too.! Thanks so much, Jess!


  9. I learned so much more about you just now! Great post. I wish I got on board with Blog It Forward...maybe next year?! xo


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