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Changemakers – February 2014

Polar vortexes from the Arctic, snowstorms in the Southeast, droughts in the Southwest . . . anyone else got the winter blues?

Luckily, we at Designed Good have found 5 amazing stories from 8 amazing Changemakers to brighten your day. These Millennials are working every day to provide the world with solutions to major issues like climate change, health and nutrition, girls’ education, and general lack of community, and they’re having fun doing it–have you seen THINX’s Indiegogo video?

Enjoy and stay warm!

 

THINX girls

Antonia Dunbar, Radha Agrawal & Miki Agrawal: THINX

Antonia Bio: Having grown up in a family of artists, entrepreneurs and designers, Antonia had an early start in learning what it took to conceive and share ideas. Beginning her own creative journey as a classically-trained cellist, Antonia played in numerous orchestras and toured throughout Europe before attending college at Northwestern University where she transitioned her focus to public relations and marketing. After many years heading up the marketing efforts of several editing, art and music studios, Antonia met Miki and Radha Agrawal, dynamic twin sister entrepreneurs who soon became two of her closest friends. It was then that the idea of THINX was born.

Radha Bio: Radha is a serial social entrepreneur having founded several socially conscious companies. She is the founder and CEO of Super Sprowtz, a leading children’s multi-media nutrition education company whose mission is to engage children to make better food choices, impacting over 1 million children and counting.

Additionally, she was one of the 2013 Recipients for the Tribeca Film Festival “Disruptive Innovation Awards”

Miki Bio: Miki Agrawal too is a serial social entrepreneur. She was a recipient of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival’s “Disruptive Innovation Award” and named 2013’s Forbes’ “Top 20 Millienials On a Mission”. She is the founder of the acclaimed farm-to-table, alternative pizza concept called WILD in NYC. She has since partnered with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh to open the concept in Downtown Las Vegas. Miki is also a partner in Super Sprowtz, a children’s media company to get kids to eat more vegetables.

Most recently, Harper Collins published her book entitled “DO COOL SH*T” on entrepreneurship and lifestyle design. The book launched on August 6th, 2013 and in 3 days, it hit #1 on Amazon Bestsellers list in entrepreneurship.

Miki is an identical twin, half-Japanese, half-Indian French Canadian, former professional soccer player and graduate of Cornell University.

Project: As busy women, how often have we had accidents and embarrassing moments during our “time of the month”? And, how is it that, in this day and age, there is no innovation in undergarments that solves this much needed issue? Enter THINX.

THINX are the smartest underwear in your drawer that think of you every day of the month during any kind of day you might be having. THINX are comfortable, beautiful, leak- and stain-resistant underwear. They are also anti-microbial, moisture-wicking, breathable and washable.

THINX are also the most thoughtful underwear in your drawer as they think of women and girls around the world via our partnership with AFRIpads. Buy One, Fund One. For every pair of THINX you buy, we fund the local production of 7 washable, re-usable cloth pads for a woman or girl in the developing world, helping them stay in school instead of dropping out because they don’t have the right resources every month.

Mindful in every way with design, quality materials, construction and purpose, THINX celebrates empowered women and girls with a superior best-in-class product that we’re thrilled to share with all of you. Vist our website, and check us out on TOMS Marketplace as well!

 

Phil Calabrese other

Phil Calabrese: Superior Ecotech

Bio: Philip is a PhD student at the University of Colorado, Boulder where he applies his passion for science and entrepreneurship to projects that solve sustainability issues.

Project: Superior Ecotech converts CO2 waste from fermentation and ethanol production processes into vegan, omega-3 oils and other high-value natural products. We partner and co-locate with breweries and ethanol plants to grow a non-GMO, photosynthetic algae strain in on-site greenhouses, reducing their CO2 emissions while creating value out of waste.  Moreover, our algae cultivation technology grows more biomass per land area and uses less water than conventional algae cultivation methods.  Visit our website to find out more.

Favorite Designed Good Product: My favorite Designed Good product is the Green Guru – Cruiser Cooler Handlebar Bag because I love cruiser bike rides and being green!

 

View More: http://tiffanyfarley.pass.us/cblumenthal

Carla Blumenthal: tea+purpose

Bio: My purpose is to build environments that cultivate self-love and understanding. Now more than ever, we have the technology and tools to understand our world, but we often don’t spend enough time understanding ourselves or building authentic relationships with others.

I’ve always been fascinated by why and how people communicate and relate to each other. This has led me to work on social media and engagement campaigns for brands such as KIND Healthy Snacks, Visa, Bing, MSN, and Pepperidge Farm. I’m a graduate of James Madison University and Emerson College and have lived in NYC, Boston, Virginia and Philadelphia. I love traveling, exercising, and can’t go a day without a cup (or 2) of tea.

Project: Sometimes, dare we say it, we are longing, aching for deep connection. I felt these sentiments for a long time and I didn’t know how to express them. I wanted to grow into my truth–whatever that will be for me– and felt alone in my journey. I felt shame that I didn’t “have it all together.” That I wasn’t loving every day the way I knew I was brought on this earth to.

One day I decided it was enough. I deserved more than feeling disconnected. I just started talking– to friends, my boyfriend, strangers, coworkers–really anyone–about their journey.Surprise: they felt pretty similar to me.

I didn’t understand why there wasn’t a place for people to feel comfortable being themselves and grow together. So, I decided to create it. tea+purpose is a gathering for twenty-something women that inspires authentic, action-oriented conversations over tea to create a community of people who live well.

Our gathering started in NYC in 2013 and is expanding to the West Coast and different cities throughout 2014. We meet on a monthly basis (over delicious tea) to talk about a particular topic area relating to personal development and take a particular action together after the gathering. We have heart-centered conversations and take action to bring about positive change in our lives!

Favorite Designed Good Product: I kid not when I say that I wear my Designed Good t-shirt on a weekly basis. It’s the most comfortable thing I own! I’ve worn it almost everywhere– the gym, running errands, to bed, and even out on Saturday nights!

 

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Gabi Lewis & Greg Sewitz: Exo

Gabi Bio: A native of Scotland, Gabi arrived in the US to study at Brown University, where he majored in Economics & Philosophy. At Brown, he received the C.V. Starr Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship and multiple Brown Venture Launch Fund grants. Previously, he worked at Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world. He currently sits on the Advisory Board of The Capital Good Fund, a non-profit microfinance organization based in RI.

Greg Bio: Originally from LA, Greg studied Cognitive Neuroscience & English at Brown University, where he wrote an Honors thesis on the psychology of morality. At Brown, Greg ran a think tank dedicated to fostering innovation and collaboration between Brown and the neighboring Rhode Island School of Design. Greg was the Science Editor of the College Hill Independent and worked on a global warming exhibit at the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco.

Project: Exo is pioneering the consumption of insects as a nutritious and sustainable alternative protein source. Our first product line is a range of protein bars developed by a 3 Michelin Starred chef. Since launching a Kickstarter campaign in July 2013, Exo has been featured in media outlets including the New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and NPR. Available for pre-order now at our website, our bars can be found in stores from Spring 2014 onwards.

Favorite Designed Good Product: [Gabi]: One World Futbol because it is such a simple product with enormous potential global impact. [Greg]: Eco wine tote from Apple and Bee because it is practical and sustainable without making any sacrifices.

 

Michael Green

Michael Green: Climate Action Liaison Coalition

Bio: Michael Green is from the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York. Now in Boston, Massachusetts he works for the Climate Action Liaison Coalition which aims to give small businesses a voice in climate and energy policy. In his role at CALC, Michael ensures that all Climate Action Liaisons are recruited, trained, organized and coordinated to represent member businesses in the fight for a safe climate. When not at work, he can be found in his canoe, kayak or mountain bike. His faithful Decker Terrier, Joey, often leads the way on his adventures.  Michael has spent time as a bicycle mechanic, member of the US Forrest Service, and United Nations Delegate focused on bold solution-driven policy.

Project: Climate Action Liaison Coalition supports small business owners in reaching their full potential as community leaders and environmental advocates. CALC member businesses aim to change the narrative on businesses’ role in climate and energy policy as well as to be proactive leaders on internal sustainability. Through participation in the Climate Action Liaison Coalition, businesses are able to leverage the expertise, resources, and networks of the company and allied businesses to implement state, municipal and business policies that rapidly reduce our region’s environmental footprint and increase business and community resilience to climate change.

Be sure to check out our website, Facebook, and Twitter for more updates!

Favorite Designed Good Product: My favorite Designed Good Product has got to be the snap-backs by ninefive ltd and Barnabas. Keeping your eyes covered and head protected while out on your next adventure is a must!

 

Designed Good

That’s all for our February set of inspiring Changemakers. If you like what you read, stay in touch with Designed Good by signing up here for a weekly email filled with our latest content and products!

Also if you know someone who should be featured as a Changemaker in next month’s issue, please send an email to community@designedgood.com with that person’s name, their contact info, and a brief description of their project. We’ll be in touch!

 

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What does it take to be a Changemaker?

Every month Designed Good names a new set of Chagemakers, people whose work is making a positive impact on the world. What does it take to be a Changemaker? We are always looking out for young social entrepreneurs – often just a few years out of college – who are working for social or environmental causes. Some have started their own businesses, others are making a splash in established organizations. For some, their social entrepreneurship is a side project for now, while others have taken time out of their careers or education to take a risk on their exciting ideas. They come from all over the world, have different passions and varying approaches but there is one thing they all share: they are all tremendously focused and ambitious individuals. When presented with conflict, their response is to act and to find a solution.

Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue

Jeet Banerjee, another young social entrepreneur, recently gave a TED Talk in which he explores the mind set of people in their 20s. He covers how people under 25 often say that they are too young, or that they don’t have enough money to think about anything besides work. Those over 25 usually say that they are settled on a track and have less time. As you hear in the TED talk, it’s not possible that 25 is some magic number! And Jeet is hardly alone in his findings. The truth is that any age is a good time to get started on your good idea or to start something that will help the world. If it’s something you feel that strongly about, you’ll find a way to make it work, just as all of our Changemakers have done.  One of our younger Changemakers is still a college student: Henry Bergman, a junior at Williams College, is the co-President of Men for Consent, a group that aims to raises awareness about and prevent sexual assault both on and off campus.

The other factor that Changemakers have in common is that they don’t just do good, but they do good well. They do their homework and find out what would be most helpful instead of offering approaches which, while good-intentioned, are actually not solving any long term problem.  Take Austin-based Tim Scott: while volunteering along the streets of Austin, he discovered that after food and water, the most requested item among the homeless was socks. So, he went about starting Mitscoots Socks, another one for one company that doesn’t just give but also actively focuses on getting people employed.

Anthony Rouzier

There are many different paths you can take. We’ve featured artists using their skills to save the environment and we’ve seen web designers doing their part for the arts. What’s your passion? Here’s just a sampling of ideas and methods from our past Changemakers:

Education – If education is an area that you feel strongly about, there are many ways you can make a difference beyond petitioning school boards and protests (though those are places to start). Catherine Bellinger is an organizer for Students for Education Reform, a student-led movement that champions education equality for all kids in the U.S.. Obiageli ‘Obi’ Ukadike is Co-Founder and Director of Program & Development for The WaWa Project, which supports education for disabled children in Ghana and West Africa; Kleaver Cruz takes a more artistic approach to education equality as Dream Director of The Future Project.

Environment – The environment is an issue that seems to get a lot of attention, yet there is still so much to be done. Miles Cretin co-founded VeritCulture, an urban aquaponics project based on Miles’ agricultural expertise. In a different and unique approach to environmental issues, Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue started Maps for Good, an online site where they combine their love of cartography and nature and highlight global projects doing good for the world.

Hunger Crisis – Hunger is a cause that gets a lot of attention around holiday season, but it’s something that we as a culture should be doing more about year-round. Fortunately, Changemaker Peter Walters is taking action. He is Director of Marketing & Partnerships at Two Degrees Food, the first one-for-one food company. So, for every Two Degrees Food granola bar you buy, the company will donate a locally-sourced meal to a hungry child. Food Shift founder Dana Frasz is taking a different route, trying to change the way to think about food consumption and raising awareness about food waste.

Arts – The arts is an area that is in desperate need of aid. Rachael Kay Albers calls herself an artist, activist and awsomepreneur. She runs her own web design business that supports social arts projects around the world. PlaceBase Productions, founded by Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord, works with local communities who commission the group to create works of theater that intertwine community, local history, natural environment and potential futures. By doing this, the partners are uniting communities and encouraging involvement in its development.

TechnologyErica Schlaikjer recognized role technology will play in future social entrepreneurship which led her to start Benevolent Media, a media and events company dedicated to celebrating story telling and design for good. Great Believer is another company harnessing technology for social good. Josh Riman realized the corporate world was not for him so he quit and started his own social good branding agency based in Brooklyn.

So whatever your passion, you can use it to do something for the world! Make it fun, make it good and make it yours.

Designed Good

Read about more of our amazing Changemakers and their incredible projects here! And If you like what you read, stay in touch with Designed Good by signing up here for a weekly email filled with our latest content and products!

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Changemakers – December 2013

Thanksgiving may have ended, but our gratitude towards the smart, creative, and compassionate people who are working to have a positive impact on the world has not.

In particular, we are thankful for our group of December Changemakers, who are working on passion projects that range from helping enable handicapped children in Ghana attain education to inventing easy-to-install grey water systems for your bathroom. Read on and get inspired!

 

Cesar Romero

Cesar Romero: Under30Experiences

Bio: Cesar Romero is a bilingual writer, social media strategist, speaker, adventure traveler, running enthusiast, cookie monster, startup lover, and lifelong learner. His life motto is “Live Life in Permanent Beta,” always working towards your next big accomplishment. His writings have been featured in Under30CEO, Gulf Elite Magazine, and other outlets. As a community manager for Under30Experiences, Cesar is currently working on making traveling more accessible and creating the biggest most engaged community of young travelers who want to see the world, understand it, and get inspired to create projects that change the world for the better. Cesar was also involved in the first ever Startup Weekend Managua 2013, where he led a group of high school kids to be included among the top 3 projects presented.

Project: We believe that in order to make a worldwide impact, we must understand the world and its people first. The best way to understand the world and your surroundings is by traveling. Under30Experiences was born from one simple idea: to make traveling accessible to young people creating a win-win loop between our attendees and the local communities. Our programs include interacting with local villages and Alaskan culture, exploring jungles and sustainability in Costa Rica, learning to surf while learning about the impact of microfinance in Nicaragua, exploring glaciers and volcanoes while learning about Iceland, etc. Our travel experiences are mindful; more than just an expensive travel abroad. The trips are all about what attendees put into it. It’s the perfect mix of rest, relaxation, adventure, and cultural experience.

Favorite Designed Good Project: Water is such a basic need in our lives, yet so many people find themselves without access to it. I really love the Dopper Steel Bottle because of what it represents, which is preventing plastic waste around the world and promoting clean drinkable water access in other nations.

 

 

Oby Ukadike

Obiageli “Oby” Ukadike: WaWa Project

Bio: Obiageli “Oby” Ukadike is an Education Program Developer with Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Boston College and her Masters in Business Administration with a double concentration in Non-profit management and Entrepreneurship from Simmons. She is also the Co-founder and Director of Program & Development for a small Boston-based non-profit, The WaWa Project, tasked with the mission of renovating elementary and middle schools in Ghana, West Africa to be handicap-accessible.

Project: The WaWa Project is a volunteer-based, Boston nonprofit working in Ghana, West Africa. Our mission is simple: provide children with disabilities an education and training to give them a sustainable future. Our first goal is assist in renovating schools to be handicap-accessible. In addition, we are working with Ghanaian educators to talk about adjustments to teaching the current curriculum and plans to help the graduates succeed.

Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and keep up with our news/events!

Favorite Designed Good Product: One-for-One Designed Good water bottle! I love water personally; I am passionate about water reaching everyone in need; and you collaborated with another organization to make a greater impact for an immediate need. It is awesome!

 

 

Michael Jacobs

Michael Jacobs: Pursue Your Dreams

Bio: My name is Michael Jacobs and I am an entrepreneur, coach, and speaker. I travel the world helping people expand their consciousness in order to live within love daily.

Project: Before I began focusing on coaching and speaking, I found success in the mobile application industry, where I learned true entrepreneurial skills and valuable internal lessons. Since then, I have been focused on guiding people through their own internal journeys to become closer to their purpose in life through coaching, speaking, and personal development products. Personally, I believe that each of us has massive power within ourselves and, through practices such as meditation and visualization, we can awaken and direct these powers. Check our my website and my internet show, Pursue Your Dreams, for more resources.

Favorite Designed Good Product: My favorite Designed Good product is the OAK backpack (green). I especially like this bag because of what it stands for: Ordinary Acts of Kindness. I travel a lot, so having a place to safely store my items is massively helpful.

 

 

Deven Griffin

Deven Griffin: Sink Positive

Bio: I’m a recent graduate of Wake Forest University(Go Deacs!) where I majored in Political Science and minored in Middle East and South Asian Studies, as well as Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise. I love to travel, and I am passionate about raising awareness and promoting the conservation of our most precious natural resource: water!

Project: The average American household uses 575 liters of water per day (with up to 27% of that just from using the toilet!), and many major organizations like the UNDP and the EPA think that is a big problem. That’s where SinkPositive, an easy-to-install grey-water recycling system, comes in. SinkPositive is a sink basin that fits on top of your toilet tank to deliver a clean, green, and touch-free hand wash with every flush. When you flush your toilet, clean water from the supply line that would normally refill your tank is instead routed through the SinkPositive faucet. You use this water to wash your hands, and then the soapy water drains into the toilet bowl. We like to think of it as saving the world’s water supply, one flush at a time.

Favorite Designed Good Product: My favorite product is definitely the Affirmats Yoga Mat (I just ordered another for a Christmas gift!). My favorite yoga instructor, Andrea, always tells me to take my problems to the mat. Having a positive message beaming up at me during the whole practice helps me make it to savasana in one piece.

 

Designed Good

That’s all for our December set of inspiring Changemakers. If you like what you read, stay in touch with Designed Good by signing up here for a weekly email filled with our latest content and products!

Also if you know someone who should be featured as a Changemaker in next month’s issue, please send an email to community@designedgood.com with that person’s name, their contact info, and a brief description of their project. We’ll be in touch!

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Holiday Gift Guide

Everybody has that friend who finished all his or her holiday shopping back in August. We have those friends too (and no, we don’t understand how they do it either). Not to worry, Designed Good is here to help! We’ve picked some our favorite things that will make great gifts for family, friends and everyone in between. Avoid the mall’s chaos by checking out our selection of unique, international products. Plus, in the spirit of the holidays, all of our gifts do a little good for the world and come with a fantastic story that will make your present memorable.

JOCO Cups

These reusable glass coffee cups are the way of the future. Made from sustainable materials, everything from the lid to the sleeve are socially responsible. Even more amazing is the unique design: the cyclonic base pulls the sugar in your coffee to the base of your cup to speed up dissolve time and balance flavor. The thermal silicone sleeve keeps your drink warm and the glass prevents anything extra elements messing with the perfect taste of your coffee. This would be great for a friend or coworker! All you have to do is pick their favorite color and they’ll be thanking you every Monday morning.

JOCOred

iSanctuary Jewelry

Gorgeous iSanctuary jewelry is a great gift for women in your life and will do good for women everywhere! iSanctuary is a that company supports sex trade survivors; they not only employ women but also provide education, professional training, life skills, financial stability and confidence to build a new life. Available in a variety of styles, these pieces are sure to be appreciated for their beauty and for what they represent.

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Hand in Hand Soap 

Prepare yourself for the holiday party season! These pretty soaps will always make great host/hostesses gifts. Each bar of Hand in Hand soap contributes to the donation of a bar of soap to children in Haiti through My Neighbor’s Children. These soaps are good all around as they are vegan, biodegradable, cruelty-free, palm oil free, and come in beautifully-decorated recycled packaging.

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Taaluma Totes 

These colorful bags come with a whole lot of culture and a great story. Designed Good offers choices from around the world and each style is made by artisans using fabrics and materials that are local, sustainable and a celebration of their homes. When you buy a Taaluma Tote, you provide a loan to a person in the tote’s respective country of origin – with this simple purchase you hold the power to change a family’s life. Taaluma Totes inspire cultural awareness wherever you go and each one is 100% unique!

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Alpaca Artwear Infinity Scarves

Stay warm in style! Alpaca Artwear has partnered with Bolivian women artisans living in rural areas so that they can use their loom weaving skills to earn a fair wage, connect to larger markets and reinvest back in their communities. Made from totally renewable alpaca wool, lead-free and eco-friendly dyes, these scarves have been world fair trade certified.

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Stitch the Stars Calendar Kit 

Our last pick is a unique gift to bring in the new year. A thoughtful present for those craft-loving people in your life, Stitch the Stars allows users to stitch a different design for each month and create their own calendar. Made with recycled materials, each kit is assembled by Heather Lins who thought of the idea and creates and distributes the products herself. Choose between traditional designs or constellation images (which include glow-in-dark thread!).

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Like what you read? Stay in touch with Designed Good! Start by signing up here for a weekly email filled with our latest content and products.

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Giving Back on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here! No storm can stop me from getting home to enjoy extra stuffing. Plus, after Thursday it is officially okay to start watching holiday movies! Bring on the clay-mation marathons.

As we settle into our meals though, it is important to not only think about those less fortunate but take action. It’s not too late to donate to a cause or volunteer a couple hours of your time at a local food shelter.  Here are some ideas from a few cities across the country:

Greater Boston Food Bank, Boston, MA

There are many ways to support to Greater Boston Food Bank. Donate money or your volunteer your time by helping to sort foods, prepare packages, and more.

Feeding NYC, New York, NY

Feeding NYC requires none of your time and no gimmicks. The team has set a goal to raise $20,000 that will be used to deliver Thanksgiving meals to families around New York City. As of right now (Wednesday noon) they are still about $1500 short!

Donate a Pie, Washington, D.C.

For a lot of people, pies can make or break a Thanksgiving. In Washington DC, you can help Food and Friends (teamed up with Slice of Life) donate pies while helping yourself! For every pie you order, the organization will provide a home-delivered meal to anyone suffering from HIV/AIDS or other illness.

Operation Turkey, Austin, TX

Started in 2000 by Richard Bagdonas, Operation Turkey is another chance to donate money or donate time by delivering meals and helping to cook food. As their website says, you show up at 8am and will be done by noon, making sure you are home in time to enjoy your own meal with family and friends.

Thanksgiving Block Party, San Francisco, CA

San Francisco City Impact has turned helping those in need into a party. They will be setting up in a base location and serving those who come off the street but there are opportunities for volunteers to deliver meals.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Designed Good Team!

 

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Gadgets We Wish Existed In Real Life

Happy Friday! Designed Good loves a solid, creative example of design. We spend a lot of our time looking at innovative products that are thought up as solutions to real life problems. But what about all those designs we see in teh movies we love…could those ideas work? These days, it’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between technological innovation and science fiction. So, for a fun and nerdy end-of-the-week post, we’ve put together a list of gadgets we’ve seen in movies and television that we wish were real. Could these dreamed up inventions actually help real world problems? While some are closer to reality than others, they all guarantee a good adventure.

1.      Sonic Screw Driver (Doctor Who) – Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver is the ultimate multi-functional tool. From unlocking doors, wiping people’s memories, altering satellite signals, perform medical scans…the list goes on. With a sonic screw driver you’ll never have to worry about lost keys or repairing your broken glasses. And you know that pesky feeling you get when you’ve just met someone new and suspect they might be an alien? Just grab the sonic screwdriver and you’ll never have a problem distinguishing humans from extra-terrestrial life forms!

Doctor-Who-Sonic-Screwdriver

2.      Flying DeLorean (Back to the Future) – What problem couldn’t you solve if you could go back in time? With Doc’s inventions of the flux capacitor, Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel the space-time continuum with ease, visiting the past, alternate-universe-present and then back to the future. *Honorable mention goes to the hover board. Hover boards might not solve any global crises, but they would make the world a much more fun place.

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3.      Death Star (Star Wars) – Ok, so the Death Star is less a gadget and more of a space station. Its laser is capable of destroying planets and many people can survive on it. Last year there was a petition to the White House to build a real Death Star as an economic stimulus and job creator. Plus, it would revolutionize national defense. The petition was so popular that the White House had to respond. The official answer was great (and raises some very reasonable points).

DeathStar2

4.      Invisibility Cloak (Harry Potter) – Admittedly, if Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak existed it might actually create more problems. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be convenient – especially when trying to sneak into the rare books section of the library – but I’m not sure if it would always be used for good. Something important to think about since scientists in Texas are working on creating the cloak in real life.

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5.      Electromagnetic Shrink Ray (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) – Honey, could this be the problem to over-population? Probably not, as I can’t think of why people would volunteer to shrink themselves. But if we did all become tiny little versions of ourselves, we might use the Earth’s resources at a much slower rate and there would be room to accommodate a fast growing population.

shrinkray

What gadgets do you wish you could use in real life?

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Help Designed Good Support Disaster Relief in the Philippines

Designed Good wants to contribute to the humanitarian efforts in the Philippines after the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan. That’s why we’ve decided that for every Designed Good (x MiiR) water bottle purchased this week, we will donate $5 towards UNICEF USA’s disaster relief efforts.

     Typhoon Haiyan is deemed one of the world’s worst storms in recent history, which is evident from the steady stream of devastating images coming out of the Phillippines. News reports will rattle even the most media-wary news watchers. What’s almost more disturbing is what is happening in the aftermath: it’s horrifying to think that people survived such a deadly storm only to face life-threatening conditions with no food and no water.

     It’s a lot to take in. And in the face of so much grief, it is easy to turn off the TV, minimize the screen and remove yourself from things happening half a world away. Designed Good understands that stress so we want to offer a way to take action. During our weekly team meeting, we brainstormed ideas how to be impactful as possible, as quickly as possible. By selling these water bottles – which we would sell anyway – we can now both make a difference in the lives of those in need as well as empower Designed Good members to do good along with us. Rather than donating products, our team thought it would make more sense to donate money to support aid groups who have the experience and knowledge to best utilize resources on the ground.  

     Apart from our Haiyan Campaign, our water bottles made by MiiR are designed to do good in their own way. They work as a one-for-one initiative so that for every bottle purchased, MiiR donates money to provide one person in the developing world with clean water for a year. With a unique, sleek design that promotes sustainability, Miir water bottles help fight a global water crisis.

     If you are interested in donating to Haiyan relief efforts in your own ways be sure to look into UNICEF USA, CARE, Philippine Red Cross, AmeriCares and the World Vision. We also encourage you to review this list of relief organizations from the New York Times for more ideas on how to help.

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Changemakers – November 2013

Take a look at our November set of Changemakers! Learn who is working to prevent food waste by building a food recovery service sector, and who is organizing student leaders on the national level to become advocates for education reform.

Every day young people are working to turn their passions into a career and their ideas into solutions, and we want to share their stories with you!

 

Rachael Kay Albers

Rachael Kay Albers: RKAink & Awesomepreneur.org

Bio: Rachael Kay Albers is an artist, activist, and awesomepreneur. Her web design biz RKA ink supports her social art projects in Mexico, Guatemala, Kenya and the USA. Rachael writes about living and working with heart in her digital mag Awesomepreneur.

Project: My heartwork is teaching young leaders and community groups how to use art, music, and theater as tools for creative problem solving. During the year, I lead a high school theater ensemble in a rural community in Chiapas, Mexico, and this summer, I partnered with the young women’s empowerment organization Girls Shift Africa in Kenya to help their leaders integrate creative tools and exercises into their work with girls in primary and secondary school. When I’m not knee-deep in my own heartwork, my hobby is celebrating other awesome folks and their gifts; I founded the digital magazine Awesomepreneur as a resource by and for heart-centered entrepreneurs all over the world.

Favorite Designed Good Product: Gotta go with the Chicago Metro cuff by Design Hype, though I would nickname it the El cuff. I’m a Windy City girl, but I am always getting lost, so when I visit home it’s handy (literally) to wear a map on my wrist!

 

Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue

Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue: Maps for Good

Marty Bio: Marty combines her passions for the outdoors and design into one goal: creating beautiful maps that allow her and others to explore the world. She is a 2010.5 graduate from Middlebury College in Vermont, where she majored in Geography. Her Geography studies and involvement in the North Country landscape inspired her to pursue place-based visual storytelling. Before co-founding Maps for Good, Marty worked as a cartographer at National Geographic Maps and National Geographic Magazine. Marty is a National Geographic Young Explorer and a 2013 Wild Gift Fellow.

Ross Bio: Ross pursues his passions for nature, exploration, and place-based education through visual storytelling. He graduated from Macalester College in 2011 where he majored in Geography and Environmental Studies. His education instilled a desire to examine the complex relationships between humans and the environment across space, time, and scale. Prior to co-founding Maps for Good, he worked as a cartographer producing print and web maps at National Geographic in Washington, D.C. While working on creative projects he follows Ms. Frizzle’s mantra: take chances, make mistakes, get messy.

Project: In an age in which people are flooded with information every day, better-world initiatives need compelling visuals to stand out from the crowd, tell their story, and engage their target audience. At Maps for Good we create print and interactive maps that visualize the work of better-world initiatives. We specialize in making maps that explore trends, tell the stories behind products, showcase an initiative’s impact, and connect people with places. Our geospatial analysis and map-based communication tools empower and propel our clients’ good work. We’re currently finishing up our flagship project, Mapping the Future Patagonia National Park in Chile. Visit our website to learn more and pre-order a map!

Favorite Designed Good Product: We love all the Usful Glassworks products! They’re elegant on their own, but their history of repurpose makes them all the more beautiful. We also can’t get enough of Taza Chocolate, made in Somerville, MA! We went through several rounds of it when we drove across the country last spring. Spicy and delicious.

 

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Dana Frasz: Food Shift

Bio: For over a decade, I have worked to inspire, support, and create social change through my work on college campuses, with businesses, and at Ashoka Changemakers. When I was seventeen I spent four months volunteering and living with families in South East Asia.  That experience shaped my world view and awakened my understanding of the true value of food.  I was really struck by the excess, abundance and waste when returning home. My obsession with keeping food out of the trash can began in college.  I remember vividly the day I witnessed tray after tray after tray of food being dumped down the garbage disposal in the cafeteria.  I spent the next three years developing a food recovery group on campus that collected food from ten local businesses each evening, from the dining hall twice each day, and delivered it to the Bronx where it helped to feed 500 people each day.  Food recovery groups like this exist all across the country Yet the problems of hunger and food waste persists and are in fact more heightened than every before.  That is why I launched Food Shift.

Project: 40% of food is wasted in the United States while 50 million Americans don’t have enough food.  At Food Shift, we see this as a waste of resources, nutrition, and human potential.  We aim to connect the dots between these issues by providing jobs to low-income individuals in the recovery, redistribution and processing of surplus food.  We envision the creation of a food recovery service sector as an extension of our current waste management system and as a way to create jobs in the green economy. We are working with businesses, schools, restaurants and local governments to develop sustainable strategies that ensure food is utilized fully to benefit communities and redirected away from the landfill.  Please join the movement to reduce food waste by making a donation and signing the pledge at www.foodshift.net.

Favorite Designed Good Product: Music and dancing is a huge part of my life and so I am a big fan of the Vers Earbuds.  Music has brought me some of the best friends I’ll ever have and given me some of the best moments of my life.  Music, like other art, stimulates imagination, opens our hearts and helps us connect more deeply with each others.

 

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Kavya Shankar: HUWIB & CompassPoint Mentorship

Bio: Kavya Shankar is a senior at Harvard University studying economics and psychology. She currently serves as Co-President of Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business and is Co-Founder of CompassPoint Mentorship. Upon graduation, Kavya will be working in management consulting at McKinsey and Company in New York City.

Project: Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business is the largest undergraduate business organization at Harvard, reaching over 400 members on campus and over 2000 students worldwide. We seek to empower future female leaders through a variety of initiatives that promote business education and experience, most notably our Women in Business Weekend that takes place annually in October in Boston and brings together thousands of women from around the world. CompassPoint Mentorship is an organization dedicated to fostering lifelong learning inside and outside the classroom through mentorship by connecting alumni with students from their former high schools. Both initiatives are related to inspiring individuals to seek personal development, learn from mentors, and pursue their passions.

Favorite Designed Good Product: All of the Apple & Bee products, like the Bee the Change Eco Tote — I’m a sucker for good puns!

 

Catharine Bellinger

Catharine Bellinger: Students for Education Reform

Bio: College student organizer and future teacher fighting to ensure all kids have access to a great education.

Project: Students for Education Reform (SFER) is a student-led movement that champions educational equity for all children. SFER organizes undergraduate students who attended their local public schools to be a powerful force for K-12 education policy and political change in their own communities, through campus chapters that build and train a diverse base of members to tell their personal stories of the inequities in the school system and pro-student changes that need to occur. Our work has been highlighted in TIME Magazine, Forbes, and Education Week.

SFER currently has over 4,000 members on 134 college campuses in 36 states. SFER members organize their peers and communities to take grassroots action through public demonstration, media actions, direct lobbying, and electoral action. SFER creates the grassroots power necessary to win pro-student policy victories while empowering local students as leaders in their own communities. And in the long term, we are creating a large, diverse leadership pipeline into the education field. We concentrate our organizing efforts in target states, and currently have full-time staff organizing on the ground in California, Minnesota, Illinois, and Louisiana.

Favorite Designed Good Product: Babson Social Innovation Duffel — it lets you cram everything you need for donor pitches and board meetings all in one carry-on, while inspiring others to work in the social impact sector!

 

Henry Bergman

Henry Bergman: Men for Consent

Bio: Henry is a junior at Williams College where he is studying for a degree in English. He plays for the Williams College Rugby team and uses activism to add balance to his life. Born and raised in Chicago he cares deeply about his city and intends to work there after college.

Project: I am the co-president of a group called Men for Consent at Williams College. Our goal is to raise awareness about and prevent rape and sexual assault on campus and off. We do this through facilitating conversations, attending and hosting regional conferences, organizing creative activism projects, and creating safer social spaces. Men for Consent also engages in critical discourse, as a group, on issues of masculinity, feminism, dating, and sexuality. As our name suggests, we seek to be a venue through which men in particular can become educated and involved in addressing the issue of rape and sexual assault, but we welcome anyone and everyone who wants to get involved!

Favorite Designed Good Product: My favorite Designed Good product is the bottled Brooklyn #CalmlySeekingSomeoneAwesome Tote because it lets me carry around all of my books and materials without ever having to return to my room. Great conversation piece as well.

 

Designed Good

That’s all for our November set of inspiring Changemakers. If you like what you read, stay in touch with Designed Good by signing up here for a weekly email filled with our latest content and products!

Also if you know someone who should be featured as a Changemaker in next month’s issue, please send an email to community@designedgood.com with that person’s name, their contact info, and a brief description of their project. We’ll be in touch!

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Happy Halloween!: Horror Movies with an Eco-Twist

Happy Halloween! Once the trick-or-treaters have left or the party has ended, I like to end Halloween with a movie. Today we’ve put together a list of a few fantastical horror films that involve an all too real threat to the environment. What are your favorite scary movies to watch around Halloween?

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The Last Winter (2006) – In this thriller ghosts of nature take revenge! The movie starts by showing preparation getting under way for the construction of an environmentally devastating oil well in a remote Alaskan base just outside the Arctic Circle. As tensions between a team of adventurers and scientists come to a breaking point, strange behavior takes over the crew members. This leads to series of unexplainable occurrences that suggest something supernatural may be afoot.

Long Weekend (1978) – This is the story of Peter and Marcia, a couple who, along with their dog, go for a weekend camping trip. The pair show incredible disrespect for nature, such as polluting, throwing lit cigarette butts in dry bush, and spraying insecticide, among other transgressions. As tensions between the couple escalate, nature is not pleased with their environmental wrongdoing and starts to strike back, first by an eagle and possum attacking Peter, and then through more insidious means…

The Happening (2008) – Admittedly, this M. Night Shyamalan movie got really bad reviews. The story follows Mark Wahlburg’s character and his character’s wife (played by a pre-adorkable Zooey Deschanel) as they try to escape and solve the mystery behind a toxin that causes anyone exposed to it to commit suicide. Dark, depressing and apparently a total dud, but it is a scary movie with an environmental message.

Ghostbusters (1984) – OK, so this movie does not show the EPA in the most favorable light and it is not exactly a horror movie…but it’s just so great! For anyone who has never seen it (shame on you), the move is about parapsychologists who set up a unique ghost catching business in New York. This is one of my favorite movies and great way to wrap up Halloween.

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In Defense of TOMS

Recently, TOMS Shoes has received quite a bit of negative attention. Toms is known for its success with its one-for-one business model, where for every pair of shoes bought, one pair is donated to children in need. Their canvas shoes are so ubiquitous that even if you don’t own a pair of Toms, you probably know someone who does. Toms even has a relatable origin story: the idea came to founder Blake Mycoskie after a trip to Argentina during which he was moved by barefooted impoverished children. Over the last few years Toms has provided footwear for millions of children and continues to be a popular choice among the fashion conscious.

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So, sounds like a great idea, right? Yet in the past few months criticism of the Toms’ model has been scathing; after reading headlines one might think that the company just tossed a basket of kittens off a cliff. Toms has been called a vanity project for Westerners and accused of hindering developing economies. Cheryl Davenport’s article from Fast Company was especially devastating, picking apart the ‘existential flaws’ of Toms while predicting the company’s impending doom. Designed Good is asking, does Toms really deserve all this negative attention? Our answer would be no. We believe that Toms is indeed making a positive impact in the world, but not in the way you might think (more on that later).

Before we explain our defense of Toms, it’s important to understand why people are so angry about its shoes in the first place. This is especially prudent since Davenport and others do raise some valid points. Toms’ model of giving children shoes provides a short-term solution of protecting small feet, but what happens when those kids grow out of the shoes? Moreover, this short-term solution does nothing to help the greater issue of poverty affecting a community and does not help grow social enterprise; in fact, aid from an outside source actually hurts the growth of a local economy. In other words, providing a large number of free shoes is putting local shoemakers out of business.

Toms is hardly a lone target of this critique as foreign aid has been coming under fire for many years. This 2010 Time Magazine article shares the story of Jason Sadler, a young Florida businessman who collected one million t-shirts to donate to Africa. He had never visited Africa nor had he ever worked with foreign aid. Most importantly, he followed an idea that he came up with on his own, never stopping to ask anyone if this particular form of aid was necessary or what people really needed. Sadler did not do his homework since, as it turns out, it is not difficult to find a t-shirt in Africa and his gift would have undermined local vendors selling t-shirts in their own shops. NYU Economics professor, William Easterly has been critical of foreign aid to Africa and in the regards to the Sadler incident, Easterly is quoted saying “I’m sorry to be so unkind to someone who has good intentions, but you don’t get a get-home-free card just for having good intentions. You have to do things that make sense.” These days good intentions are simply not good enough and ignorance of consequences is inexcusable.

Right, so these criticisms are valid problems. And going back to Toms, one wonders if all this disparagement of the company name is a bit unfair. After all, Toms has been listening to its critics and taking steps to amend its process – more on that below. I would say that Toms is indeed making a long-term impact for good, just not specifically through shoes. The company’s popularity is going strong and continues to be the most recognizable brands of the one-for-one model. It has inspired new businesses to adopt similar models and embrace philanthropy into their mission statements. “It is also responsible for getting lots of Gen X and Gen Y entrepreneurs to think about business in a different way and for globalizing the buy-one, give-one model that is now so popular.” While many of these companies present the same issues as Toms, others are building on the one-for-one idea and adding a new component: nurturing social enterprise so that impoverished communities are set on a path out of poverty. Helping businesses in such communities maintain steady growth and employment will sustain a healthy economy and that is the long-term solution that is going to work.

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Yet, what is still remarkable and important about Toms is how it demonstrated that philanthropy and capitalism can work together. Warby Parker, is another successful one-for-one company whose eye glasses are stylish, affordable and Gwyneth Paltrow-approved. For every pair purchased, a pair of glasses are donated to the needy. However, Warby Parker recognized that it may not have the resources to best assess a particular community’s needs, so it partnered with Vision Spring, a non-profit with more experience on the ground. Warby Parker and Vision Spring not only provide aid materials, they also work with local entrepreneurs to help them sustain their businesses and create more jobs. Similarly, Two Degrees Food (former Designed Good Changemaker!) is a one-for-one endeavor built around granola bars. For each granola bar sold, Two Degrees contributes a meal to a hungry child. Better still, the meals are bought from local farmers and made with local ingredients, thus stimulating the economy.

Toms is to taking the cue and working to keep up with this new generation of philanthropic brands. Like Warby Parker, Toms has designed a line of eyewear and (with the help of the Seva Foundation) trains local doctors and nurses in sight-giving support and surgeries so that they are employable and create a more self-sufficient system. Also, Toms is starting to manufacture its signature canvas shoes in the locations (like Ethiopia or India) it hopes to help – again, creating jobs and boosting economy.

Many one-for-one companies owe their success in marketing this concept to Toms’ model and in turn, Toms is evolving the way they give. Mycoskie and his team are learning how to improve their approach to aid and proving that they really are interested in doing some good in the world.

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