Design as Democracy

I’ve been to my fair share of community meetings. To be fair, I’ve organized too many to count. And honestly, I’m tired. Tired of knowing what to expect of almost any meeting whether it’s called a charrette, a workshop, or a community dialogue. As creative people, designers can do better. As people who embrace community engagement, we know that we can reach a much broader spectrum of people than when we solely rely upon public meetings for outreach.

With lots of excitement, I’d like to showcase a book that I’ve been working on for the past three years with a team of like-minded colleagues from across the country (including me, Diane Jones Allen, Randy Hester, Jeffrey Hou, Laura Lawson, and Marcia McNally). The book is called Design as Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity, and its goal is to reinvigorate democratic design. What we realized quickly was that we didn’t need to come up with any new techniques on our own. There are hundreds of innovative designers who have already been playing around with new techniques to encourage better collective design, but whose stories and methods are not widely known.

The book curates 60 of the most promising, intriguing, and successful techniques submitted by some of the most experienced practitioners as well as emerging leaders in the field. It includes techniques like “Cellphone Diaries,” “Cross-Cultural Prototyping,” and “Mapping Environmental Injustice.” In a way, the book reads like a cookbook, with recipes that invite people to improvise, adapt, and invent depending on their needs and inclinations. As editors, we organized the techniques into a holistic framework for taking on any community design project from start to finish (and start again).

I’m excited to share this with anyone who is interested (scholars, practicing designers, city officials, and community people). Here are the details:

Design as Democracy
Island Press Paperback Original
Publication Date: December 7, 2017
344 pages | 8×10 | Price: $40.00 (P) $39.99 (E) ISBN: 9781610918473 (P) 9781610918480 (E)
Book page: