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Design for Social impact Research princples.  1) Intersectional 2) Co-design 3) Pedagogies of care & solidarity 4) Interative and foster mutual learning 5) co-analysis 6) Structural change and action 7) Anti-racst and decolonial approaches  8) system thinking

Why is no one talking about debt?

community design research social impact Mar 06, 2024

Debt. Debt. Debt. These three words encapsulate a profound yet often overlooked aspect of our global socio-economic landscape. My recent experience at the War on Want festival opened my eyes to the glaring absence of discussions surrounding debt within the non-profit space, particularly among large international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). This oversight prevents us from fully understanding the intricate web of economic debt, climate debt, austerity measures, IMF policies, and the pervasive practice of tax evasion. By disregarding these systemic inequalities ingrained within our economic and social structures, we inadvertently contribute to a phenomenon known as #aidwashing, perpetuating the cycle of exploitation and injustice.

The War on Want festival was a powerful platform for amplifying voices often marginalized or silenced in mainstream discourse. Through thought-provoking sessions and engaging discussions, the festival brought together activists, thinkers, and trade unionists worldwide to share their experiences, struggles, and successes in building alternative ecosystems from the ground up. Each session delved into critical issues such as climate and migrant justice, food sovereignty, land reparations, solidarity with Palestine, and the impacts of austerity measures on vulnerable communities.

One of the most compelling aspects of the festival was its emphasis on solidarity and resistance over charity. Instead of perpetuating a narrative of dependence, the festival showcased the power of collective action and grassroots organizing in challenging oppressive systems and advocating for systemic change. It was inspiring to witness individuals, organizations, and movements unite to forge a path towards social justice and equality, demonstrating that true transformation begins with solidarity and a commitment to dismantling oppressive structures.

As we reflect on the lessons learned from the War on Want festival, it's clear that addressing systemic issues like debt requires more than just awareness—it demands action and innovation. We cannot afford to ignore the interconnectedness of economic debt, climate injustice, and exploitation. Instead, we must actively demand accountability from those who benefit from exploiting others and work towards building a more just and equitable world for all.

At Design for Social Impact, we are committed to approaching these challenges head-on through our circular economy approach to business. Our model prioritises sustainability and social impact and fosters inclusivity and empowerment within communities.

  • Through training, strategic guidance and critical friend services, we support organisations to centre anti-oppressive practices in their work- and this involves rethinking and reframing how, where and why.

  • Through partnerships with organisations and charities, we provide opportunities for individuals who may not have access to traditional professional development resources. By offering places and training to groups who wouldn't typically afford continuous professional development (CPD), we aim to create a pathway for people to become paid strategic advisors, consultants, and facilitators on projects related to Design for Social Impact (DFSI).

  • This approach enriches the projects we are commissioned to work on with diverse perspectives and insights. By centring the voices and experiences of those most affected by systemic injustices, we can develop more holistic and effective solutions to complex social and environmental challenges.

We acknowledge that we don't have all the answers. We're fairly new and building the plane as we fly. We aspire to be a sustainable social enterprise, and we are committed to walking the talk and actively striving to minimize circuits of oppression- which means creating and redistributing opportunities and resources to people who often get overlooked as providers of social impact solutions.

We'd love to hear from other organisations working on these issues or who would like to explore ways of working together. Please email us at [email protected] or connect on LinkedIn.


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