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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

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Citation Data

Author(s): Erica Dorn and Tara Dickman
Year: 2022
Title: Towards Relational Design Practices: De-centering design through lessons from community organising
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 182
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/towards-relational-design-practices
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 20 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404