Creative Compassion: Impact Designers
The “Impact Designers” are a dynamic duo of Earthkeeper heroes using their design skills to battle social and environmental problems. Sami Nerenberg and Nate Bastien first met at the Rhode Island School of Design where Nate was Sami’s star student, and now both are committed to sharing their professional passion and expertise to create positive impact.
While Sami has been managing a 6-week eco-design boot camp, Nate has been busy with his own project — designing environmentally-responsible products for marginalized communities and the organizations that serve them. First up, a low-cost, durable backpack designed for people experiencing homelessness. The need behind the design, in Nate’s own words:
“Because the shelters are only open at night, you are forced out on the streets between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm every day. And don’t expect the shelter to provide any storage for your belongings, the conditions can be so poor and degrading that some individuals actually prefer to sleep on the streets or in a tent. In both cases, homeless individuals, and all of their belongings, are exposed to the weather every day. Through these conversations I recognized a design opportunity – displaced individuals need a means to carry their belongings that is affordable, durable, and waterproof. And why tap into virgin materials when there are heaps of quality materials heading to the landfill right now.”
The result is a waterproof, durable, adjustable Street Pack, made from discarded materials and featuring a multi-functional emergency shelter / solar blanket. Nate field-tested the pack himself during his 3-day Boston street retreat, and now he’s looking for other volunteers. If you (or a friend) are currently living on the streets and are interested in testing one of the first production Street Packs, please let Nate know. Testers will receive a free prototype of the Street Pack, along with a disposable camera … in return, they’ll be asked to use it and provide feedback (via photos and testimonials) on the pack’s functionality and durability.
Stay tuned as Nate and Sami share their observations and experiences in designing for positive impact both here on Earthkeepers and on their pages at Changents.com.