Summer 2016

Weaving Nature

Team Weaving Nature envisioned a sustainable cycle of growing, using, composting, and regrowing natural dyes for local artisans, globally.

They speculated that their model could be replicated for textile artisans anywhere, and chose Guatativita, Colombia for this iteration.

"We had a very interdisciplinary team consisting of many different abilities and worked quite well together. We had builders, writers, and textile artists. Working together as a team was challenging at times when we all had different perspectives. We learned to come up to agreements in these situations and matured along the way."

The team developed dye recipes using easily accessible vegetables, spices, and food waste, compiling them into a bilingual Spanish/English book to distribute to the Guatativita artist community. They also designed and fabricated a compost bin for waste leftover from dye extraction. The compost would go on to fertilize the next generation of plant dyes.



Nirmoktra is a Sanskrit word which means “to empower through knowledge.” Team Nirmoktra brought creative problem solving skills and critical thinking strategies to primary educationg in rural India.

The current education system in the government schools of India is based on rote memorization, and questioning information is discouraged. Team Nirmoktra decided to bring creative problem solving skills and critical thinking strategies to rural India. Their community partner, the Aparajitha Foundation, connected them with their pilot school. At the Swami Vivekanand Model Government School in Kherwara, Rajasthan, the team worked with over 160 students and several teachers to develop the best ways of integrating these tools and frameworks into the curriculum. They also set up a learning resource center for teachers and for the student body, and collaborated with students on a school mural.

“In this case, the idea was design thinking (Critical thinking and problem-solving skills) and it was constantly altered to the version that would best suit the Indian context. I also learnt a great deal about how to make ideas universal, by reducing them to their fundamentals so that more people can access them.”

At the end of the project, the Aparajitha Foundation arranged for Team Nirmoktra to present their findings to the state government. The team presented the impact of their work to the head of the educational board and 72 other school principals. Many principals expressed interest in Nirmoktra running the same workshop at their own schools.


Navajo Mountain School Project

The Navajo Mountain School Project was conceived to empower the Navajo community through renovating a disused building of historical importance.


The team planned to collaboratively transform an old school building into a site for community arts and culture education.

"Within this specific community, there is no lack of ideas that are needed to fill the spaces we were renovating. I’ve discovered a different level of collaboration, learned the nature of my community at Navajo Mountain, and taught myself to listen when I’m so used to just charging ahead with projects of this nature."

The project included public engagement opportunities and a craft workshop during communal renovation efforts. It aimed to provide tools and resources for the community to leverage its own creativity in continuing to develop Navajo art and culture programs after reconstruction.


Miti Miti

Team Miti Miti believed that education was the key to transforming Colombia’s society, and sought to address educational inequity through a social business model.


Because access to school supplies can be a huge barrier for staying in school, the team created a buy one, give one company that designs, manufactures, and sells high quality notebooks. For every notebook sold, one is donated to a student in need in Colombia.

“As a social business, all of the proceeds go directly to support our mission. In Miti Miti, we believe in the power of sharing: by creating a competitive, high quality solution to a market-driven problem, we can make a sustainable impact on access to education.”

All proceeds go towards supporting their mission of sustainable impact on access to education. They are currently developing a tutoring program and a design-thinking workshop to empower students to achieve beyond their socioeconomic boundaries.



Marcus Books

Team Marcus Books partnered with Marcus Books and the African American Arts & Culture Complex to recreate the prominent Marcus Bookstore within the AAACC’s physical complex.


The Marcus Bookstore was a major hub for the San Francisco African American community in the Fillmore since the 60’s. It was a critical site for intellectual and communal activity, but was evicted in 2014 against major public outcry. Team Marcus Books partnered with the Marcus Books and the African American Arts & Culture Complex Initiative (AAACC) to recreate the space within the AAACC’s physical complex.

“We will always face contrasting goals within teams, talking through these goals and prioritizing helps to get everyone on the same page.”

The team acted as design facilitators, creating and testing prototypes, devising business strategies, and providing architectural renderings and visualizations. They also supported a dynamic relationship between the community and the organization, actively incorporating community voices into the design process. The tools and resources they developed will be used by the AAACC to carry the project forward.



Partnering with San Francisco Nonprofit Simply the Basics, Dahlia developed materials for a strategic marketing campaign

Project Dahlia was a reaction to the high levels of homelessness in San Francisco. The team was especially interested in addressing problems surrounding hygienic needs, and partnered with Simply the Basics to develop materials for a strategic marketing campaign. One of its main programs is managing and distributing hygiene donations to other organizations, and Simply the Basics is a valuable resource for other nonprofits as well as for homeless individuals. Team Dahlia supported them with spreading awareness to garner more community support and develop collaborative relationships with other organizations.