Best Reads: My Curated Picks

I wanted to share the three best articles I’ve read in the first quarter of this year. As I read each of these, I just thought “Yes!!! Amen!!!.” These writers are putting great ideas into clear and simple (and sometimes hilarious) language. Enjoy.

Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System
Donella Meadows

Amazing piece recommended to me by Sha Hwang that breaks down the concept of a system, and the most powerful ways to change a system, from bathtubs (simple) to economies and ecosystems (complex.) Sha, who pointed me in the direction of this piece when I interviewed him in February said that when he read it he felt Meadows had put to words instincts he’d long been drawing on in his work.

Dump the Prizes
Kevin Starr

Great article that came to me via Katie Crepeau of the Impact Design Hub. Starr says that awards waste the time of social entrepreneurs and changemakers, value ideas over implementation, and further the social sector’s inability to be a real market for impact. I’ve never been a huge fan of competitions. John Peterson, a former boss and strong influence on me founded Public Architecture on this basis–to flip the tables on the fruitless waste of labor of design competitions and to use those resources on community issues.

The Rise of Feminist Hackerspaces and How to Make Your Own
Liz Henry

Thanks to Beth Altringer of Harvard for this one–this is an incredibly thoughtful and incredibly funny take on a feminist hackerspace in the Bay Area. It redefines (sexist) notions of what a hacker is, takes on classist assumptions in the movement, and is chock full of strategies that women in other fields might draw on to take matters in their own hands–I’m thinking about how I can use its insight in my empowerment workshop for women in design. My favorite quote from it is actually not by the author, but a line from a sexist post, and no, it does not seem like it was meant ironically.

“If a hackerspace has one female and she wants more females in the hackerspace, then she should start a campaign to find more females. It could be that she host a class about e-textiles or whatever it is females like to talk about.”

Yup. E-textiles. Alright.

So what have you been reading that remade your thinking? Hook me up.


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