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  • pbrandon

    Jonathan, I am glad to see you are doing this. As we all know, social impact can be the facilitation of long term vision or response to calamity. I have had the opportunity to contribute to an initiative that addresses both in NYC; the connectivity needs of families, the aged and the disadvantaged on an ongoing basis and the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

    Recently, I had the chance to create a brand ID for the Cooper Lumen Design Challenge. This is an innovative, cross-disciplinary design challenge for students at Cooper Union, aimed at creating a working prototype for a solar-powered public WiFi hotspot.

    Unlike other solar powered products, the “Cooper Lumen” will uniquely combine the functions of providing public wireless internet, emergency lighting, and a charging station for computers and mobile devices.

    The semester-long design initiative will commence in January 2014, and will include students from the Cooper Union schools of Art, Architecture, and Engineering.

    Learn more about this initiative and please direct like-minded urban improvers, inventors and facilitators to to learn and be inspired.

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    Fantastic! Thank you for using your talents and gifts to create designs that work in the Real World and help others. Thank you for using your documentary work to illuminate the ideas of those who are striving to design for social good! Big HUGS and Huge Appreciation! (I'm currently donating literacy programs in Ghana that I customized to their needs being sure to include as much Ghanaian culture as possible in the activities! :))

  • Anthony Schmiedeler

    Hey Jon,
    Since my departure from the Marine Corps 4 years ago, I've been studying Graphic Design at a university, only recently coming upon the field of Design for Social Good. Now I'm really hoping I can find a way to translate my Graphic Design experience into position where I can make a meaningful impact on the world. Fortunately, for my last semester in college, a course called Design for Social Change has opened at my school and I'm really looking forward to it. Can't wait to see how this documentary turns out and I hope you are able to cover the ways Graphic Design can play a role.

  • Marissa MG

    GREAT!!!i love social design i really think its a great way to help! There are so many things that can be done! Contratulations for this project really!!!

  • Jon Fein

    Thanks, everyone for your great responses! As the project develops, we'll follow up on your suggestions. For more information, you can read our current, evolving, proposal at

    • pamela.halouvas.7

      Dear Jon, I am so interested in your project. I work in the Highlands of Guatemala with a non-profit, Maya Traditions Foundation. We work in the area of education and empowerment of our weaving cooperatives that we founded as well as run a sustainable enterprise selling products made by our weavers. If you have a moment to look at our website you can see more of the capacity building projects that we run. If you think we could contribute to your project in any way please send me a message: Thank you, Pamela Halouvas

    • Ludwig Linnekogel

      Hey Jon,
      I couldnt find a better way to contact you, than this post, anyways. I would love to chat with you about your project. Shoot me an eMail if you like ludwig4004 -- Thanks and talk soon, Ludwig

  • David Schwartz

    Hey! I'd love to talk to you more about this. I'm a social/visual designer for IBM's new design initiative (aptly named IBM Design), and this is exactly the stuff we're interested in. Let me know the best way to contact you.

      • David Schwartz

        Awesome! What's your portfolio URL? Check out for some more information in the meantime :)

        • Swar Raisinghani

          There are other projects that I have worked on which are not included in here, so if you could pass me your email id or send me an email, I would love to share it with you!

  • JeremyLeFevre

    A great project! You might consider featuring new approaches to education through the lens of social impact design. We (along with a network of similar small organisations across Europe) are involved in a project to develop social entrepreneurship in the UK

  • Mary Garlock

    Hi, I would like to tell you about my nephew's company in Guatemala called Hiteca. They are working on micro-hydro ways to provide sustainable energy. Please check them out at Their campaign has just 10 days left.

  • David mitsak

    janell Kapoor, Kleiwerks has created training/networks that has empowered tens of thousands in Thailand to build very durable homes without burning fossil fuels and with hardly any financial cost. She is a part of a global movement to provide the world's best (toxin free) shelter to anyone that wants it. Once people have a debt free home their levels of freedom are unparalleled.

  • Ali Mag

    This is a wonderful idea Jon. It's is the way of the future. Just as an FYI: has embraced social impact design and is making a positive impact addressing energy poverty with its first product, the elegant, inflatable Luci solar lantern. Let us know how we can help.

  • Chintan Parekh

    hI JON...i am an independent filmmaker based in india. I was working on a similar concept like your's since 9 months and have researched and found out those unique people whose ideas are life changing and benefit the masses. These are the people whom one can look upto and they can be the inspiration for others.

    I have collected the data of many such people and all of them are from India. If you are interested then you can contact me on and we can share the things & ideas as the concept is very similar.

    Best Regards,

  • Sue Xiao

    I really like the idea of diverting talented designers and innovators towards Social Impact Design--I see myself, a college student, moving in that direction as a career as well. However, I would ask that with every step and every decision that the organization makes, for one of the first questions on the table to be, "How can this idea, this product, this system be sustainable and grass-roots? Be owned by the community?" I have seen too many amazing ideas from outsiders, foreigners become obsolete after implementation because of friction with the local environment, economy, culture. But I think that can change and has been. Just something to keep at the front of our minds when we launch new design.

    • Prof A

      Sue Xiao, I don't know what school you go to, but a relatively new student group called Design for America (DFA) is helping college students learn how to reach out to their local community to have social impact through design. I applaud groups which work on solutions for the developing world, but the ability to connect directly with people in the local community often improves both the design and the impact of the project. Although it started at Northwestern University, DFA is currently at 17 campuses. See for more info.

      • Sue Xiao

        Prof A, thank you so much for your response. DFA seems like an excellent organization and is definitely something I'm interested in learning more about. I can't agree more on that connection to the local community (as in, real connection and partnership) that "service" and "charity" organizations sometimes lack. Will share with my fellow students!

  • jvannostrand

    What a great idea. We have been working on Social Impact Assessments in Africa, Latin America and Canada simultaneously over the last 35 years - in order to inform our planning, architectural and social and economic development planning and design work in a wide variety of First + Third World settings. See and/or and/or We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you. John van Nostrand

  • Virginia Linman

    I think this is a great idea, and hope your documentary is successful at bringing this type of work to the attention of more people who can design more helpful items for low-income people all over the world. I hope you are also considering ideas that can help the rapidly growing sector in the US of the poor, especially the elderly.

    I am not a designer, nor am I wealthy, but I have some money set aside each year for donations. Where can I send a donation to help your project?
    Let me know at

  • virginiallorca

    In a movie called Sahara they featured the misuse of a device (building? machine? plant?) in the desert that consisted, to simplify, of a conveyor belt and mirrors. It produces such intense heat, it eliminates toxic (and I suppose other kinds of) waste so that there is little or no by product. Little piles of ash. LITTLE.

    That was a few years back. Someone mentioned it in a tweet recently and I commented that I was glad that someone else noticed it. I will search my tweets and see if I can find a reference for you.. Otherwise watch the movie. With a fast forwarding device in your hand.

    Someone in a novel I wrote does this kind of work, but he is pragmatic, not altruistic. It is only mentioned in passing, but it is GOOD this stuff gets the public's attention, eh?

    We need to learn to deal with the after effects of modern technology as quickly as it changes. We don't. And the people building better ways to send photos to the auntie in England don't think about stuff like that. People driving "electric" cars don't think about where the electricity comes from or what happens to the dead energy cells. (Batteries?)

    Band wagon back in garage now. . .

  • Linnea Morgan

    I am an Industrial Design student at Virginia Tech, in a sponsored studio called Design for the Bottom of the Pyramid. We are designing a product that brings a source of alternative power for people living off the grid to produce enough energy to charge 2 cell phones and a light. We are going to India this winter to bring our prototypes. The website for the studio, which has been going on in some form for the past few years, is My e-mail is if you are interested in talking more. We sure would be!

  • givelocity

    Thank you for showing us that this matters! I am one of those irrational optimists and believe we already have the resources to solve.. if we actively seek out our common threads. We're launching a platform for shared giving, Givelocity, on Giving Tuesday, Dec 3rd. We hope to create a new ecosystem for giving through human affinities. Tks, Jon!

  • seabreezn

    Wonderful idea to get out this information to all people possible . Meanwhile , everyday there's oppurtunity's to be a part of a conscious society . Small example : I happen to be tall , so people shorter than me usually ask me to reach for things on higher shelves in various stores , there's a league of us who find that medium height shelves are empty or close to and we reach up and relocate the items to be mid-level ..Everyday life affords you these oppurtunity's to help socially ( economically , leave coupons....bring your coats/clothes/blankets to the shelters instead of Goodwill etc ) All these small acts add up to a change in someone's day / or to their life . The winfall is also you get to know your community's personally and more smiles greet you as time goes by you know that's a bonus to everyone's day ! PS; Following intuition , I tend to find people needing physical help & incase you do too - Please always ask someone their permission before touching them & if cognicent before you call emergency help ...( it helps to have a med. background / or talk with them an help relieve their fear of vulnerability / embarassment ) . Oppurtunity awaits you everyday ..

  • Tom Marcantonio

    Permaculture is comprised of a set of design tools that conform to the ethics of People Care, Earth Care and Shared Surplus. Check it out.

  • Swar Raisinghani

    Hi Jon! I am a graphic designer and a student of 'Design for Social Innovation', a graduate program at The School of Visual Arts. Like you mentioned in your article, it is a new but fast developing field so it is great to know that you are documenting the progress of the industry and creating awareness about it :) I would love to help in any way that I can!

  • Nancy Schwartzman

    Hi Jon,

    Interesting concept for a film! Will there be calls to action attached, action steps and a transmedia/diverse set of outreach campaigns in tandem with the films? Change-making is a multi-platform and multi-teired effort! Would love to discuss. Also, my team built a mobile application, Circle of 6 was created to prevent violence for young people. Let me know if you're interested in discussing.
    All best, Nancy Schwartzman

  • Nina Horne

    Wonderful work. It follows very closely on the ideas developed by Cynthia Smith, the Curator of Socially Responsible Design at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in the exhibition "Design for the Other 90%." Looking forward to seeing what is presented.

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Hi Jon- Have you heard of Keys to the Street? They redesign urban spaces to be more walkable. Jess Lowry works with them and you can follow her here: Or Matt Gillespie- founder of the solar stove: Kent Frankovitch also designed a better bike light for safety purposes: These are just ideas and Jordan Phoenix made a tiny square foot home for $11,000: Let me know if you're interested in contacting any of them and I can connect you.

    • Andre Blackman

      Thank you Alessandra! My background is in public health, tech and communications and have become wildly interested in the built environment/urban design over the past year. Great resources here.