In a throwback to the 1990s (and not in a good way), the word on the street is that PBS, the National Endowment for the Arts and National Public Radio are in danger of becoming extinct due to proposed federal funding cuts. In short, creativity and the arts are quickly losing ground in the battle of the budget. And yet there is hope for creativity from an unlikely source: Big business – and specifically the tech industry – continues to reward creative thinkers with foundations, contests and campaigns geared to generate more inspired solutions to the world’s most difficult problems.
Design Ignites Change is the brainchild of software giant Adobe and marketing firm Worldstudio Projects. The idea is simple: Students and creative professionals are challenged to use their left brains to solve tough social issues. Architects, design students, illustrators and other creatively-inclined types set forth initiatives which address tough problems by employing their unique talents. Adobe and partners then award cash to the clever designers with the best execution and best ideas. The projects use social media, online videos and grassroots marketing to spark interest in their causes. Now in its second year, the current crop of winners tackled everything from the lack of sidewalk for a park to safety for gay refugees.
One winner born in Los Angeles, NeighborBridgeGap, connected the City of Angeles with earthquake-torn Haiti. By employing the resources of local businesses and the talents of Otis Design School students and elementary school students, the project set out with a mission to make the distance between the two very different places seem a whole lot less. With items donated by a nearby hotel and books given to NeighborBridgeGap by the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation, the students set out in creating knapsacks for Haitian children to carry. The Otis students taught the elementary kids how to weave and thus created the bags which were filled with sketch pads, art supplies and books. Haitian students who undoubtedly have been forced to come up creative solutions to their own real life problems are given tools from their across the globe artistic counterparts.
NeighborBridgeGap and Design Ignites Change are doing what artists have been doing with one another for centuries – using creativity and collaboration to make life just a little better.