31 December 2012

My 2012 Review

Sprinkles Rwanda
10 things that were awesome in my life and design career this year:

1) Finalizing the package design for a micronutrient in Rwanda
This outcome started with a process that began in 2010 with some field research in nearly 500 rural Rwandan homes. To see the product get named for a Rwandan market, finalized with all relevant copy and translations and find its way into the hands of women has definitely made my list design career highlights.

2) Seeing Amaluna (Cirque de Soleil) and being reminded of the importance of including backup in the system
“A businessman is a hybrid between a dancer and a calculator.” — Paul Valery

I love dancing; it is the thing I do to release tension and get myself sorted (contrary to many in Vancouver who seek yoga as a means of centering themselves). Beyond my own dance, I love to watch the professionals perform. More often than not, their performance brings tears to my eyes. I am amazed by their focus and commitment while also moved by the way strength and beauty work in tandem.

What was notable about this performance was how the choreography, that included gymnastic-esque moves and routines, actually incorporated pauses that required some dancers to be "on watch" while the others "flew through the air with the greatest of ease."

This visual metaphor has reminded me of the importance of support in my work - when you don't have back up you can run the risk of breakage, unnecessary failure and a glitch in the program. In short, Team is key to making something beautiful. And something that works.

3) Attending the Design and Social Change Lab hosted by Catapult Design
In simplest terms, when you hang out with like-minded folk, you get encouraged. And this is precisely what this day offered me - encouragement and a reminder that when it comes to using design to impact the world, you're not alone and not crazy. If you get a chance to participate in a lab, you won't be disappointed. It's a measure of craft, community and creative problem-solving.

4) Participating in the Social Capital Markets Conference
If the lab encouraged me through the meeting of minds within a smaller collective of creatives, SoCap brought it up a few notches to include a diverse range of sectors. From business to non-profit, and creative to financial, Fort Mason saw a global audience gather to learn and exchange ways to discuss and act effectively within the realm of the social sector. I was privileged to be included as a design co-leader in a "Design Series" that saw facilitators from frog, Hot Studio and CCA's dMBA program gather to collaborate around creative ways to engage attendees in the various workshops offered. By using design tools to facilitate discussion, we were able to witness some powerful conversations as opposed to one-way soliloquies that can often plague conferences of this nature.

5) Returning to Hip Hop Dance Classes
As per #2 above, you may understand why this made my list. I'm not the top of the class but I walk out smiling every time I go.

6) Developing and hosting Parking Lot Patio
You can read more about this concept here but suffice it to say, I love it when food and sunshine work in tandem. Add in conversation about ways that design can impact the world and you have me gushing.

7) Getting to share at World IA Day
Hanging out with a diverse crew of people who care about the planning and details in design is a very happy place for me. I'm grateful to have had the chance to speak about my passion for the details in Rwanda but more so I love how this community wants to work in some unexpected design spaces (like government and transportation) to make life more manageable for humans.

8) Hiking and Kayaking = Connecting with the Nature
I am a city dweller. Full stop. I make no apology for loving my city digs and actually gain much insight about my life by being present to its chaotic rhythms. But I am also aware that there is much beauty in this region of the world and for that I am GRATEFUL. So this year found me taking it in. In ways I hadn't before. Weekly hikes and a first-time sea kayak excursion have definitely brought inspiration and sanctuary to my soul.

9) Returning to NYC with a 1969 Pratt Alumnus
My pops and I have been planning this trip for the whole year and decided to make the pilgrimage back in the fall. Watching him visit with old classmates, eat at the local haunts and visit the print department was a definite highlight. And it helped me understand myself a little bit more too (The (big) apple doesn't fall so far from the tree, and all that jazz). 

10) People, people, people 
And all of the above is made possible by the amazing people I get to work with, meet, hang out with, talk to, hold, high-five and then some. I am who I am because of the people I've encountered. This is truly a gift and one that I don't hold lightly. This year I got to meet Twitter handles in real life! And all the distances that got covered by air miles, Skype calls or social-media-spaces...each moment was part of shaping my 2012. Thank you for being part of it. It has changed and transformed parts of me. And this is very, very good.

Happy New Year!

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Photo credit: UBC Public Affairs

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