Erica Dorn and Tara Dickman
Transition Design, Carnegie Mellon University | Le Next Level
Increasingly, designers seek to design in ways that more deeply involve those who are impacted by the very systems that design aims to repair, improve, or transform. Yet, despite its good intentions, the legacies of design practice often uphold entrenched systems of oppression. Fundamental components of systems change tend to be absent from most design training and practice: including the elements of power, relationships, and ownership in motivating and sustaining equitable change. Community organisers know what designers may not—that change happens through networks of relationships in a process of collective power building. This paper discusses systemic design’s current positionality and establishes an understanding of community organising principles, and finally translates several key principles for designers of systems-level change. It calls for designers to learn from principles and practices of community organising to adopt relational approaches that can sustain the promise that systemic design envisions and enables.
KEYWORDS: community organising, relational design, power, design justice, transition design