Shovels are great, and there is a lot of money being thrown around lately to support useful, but traditional, infrastructure projects. What about helping to nurture and support a sustainable design infrastructure.
Aren’t there projects that we as a design community could lobby the Federal Government to support that would help the struggling design economy, create a national design infrastructure, and support the increased emphasis on sustainability? The answer obviously is yes.
One place to start could be to help the AIGA with their initiative to rebuild the horrendous condition of our voting system infrastructure. They have a great program called Design for Democracy, that among other things has made specific suggestions on ballot design and helps implement the election reforms mandated by the Help America Vote Act. Wouldn’t it be great to have federal support of this through AIGA’s Election Design Fellows program. Jenny Greeve was recently hired by the state of Washington as an Election Design Fellow. Shouldn’t every state have at least one individual overseeing the design process for what is arguably our most important responsibility as a citizen.
A second project could be federal support for the work of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. This is an industry group that is working hard to develop an infrastructure in the package community that supports sustainable design. Shown above are some of the winners featured in their sustainable package design library.
Their stated mission, “is to advocate and communicate a positive, robust environmental vision for packaging and to support innovative, functional packaging materials and systems that promote economic and environmental health through supply chain collaboration.” Sounds like a national packaging infrastructure project to me!
How about putting money behind their Sustainable Metrics Project or support the industry wide implementation of their Compass project, an online software application that allows packaging professionals to compare the environmental impacts of their package designs using a life cycle approach. The SPC has recently released the public version of this tool.
We have CAFE standards that regulate auto emissions, how about implementing a similar industry-wide standard for consumer product package design?
Or lastly, how about support for the U.S. National Design Policy Initiative, which has a series of proposals including the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of Design and Innovation within the Department of Commerce, or the establishment of national grants for basic design research.
All of these initiatives could benefit the design infrastructure of our country, improve our economy’s competitiveness, and put design to work creating sustainable solutions for our clients.