Seminar “Designing for social sustainability, a polydisciplinary approach”

Thursday morning started with a seminar organized in TEC de Monterrey, by welcoming speeches of the Finnish Ambassador Anne Lammila praising the cooperation of the two universities for such an ambitious and important project. We were told to have fun, which we surely will 🙂

Susu Nousala continued with a great insights into the things we need to keep in mind when working on our project. We were reminded of the the fact that the process is often overlooked, since it pushes one out of their comfort zone. This is one of the greatest lessons we can learn from the process – to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Susu also undelined that where there are constraints and problems, that’s where the solutions are. Our human attractor Claudia has brought us all together, and by being open, calm and humble, we have every chance to make a relevant project for the community that will make its mark of making the world a better place.

Architect Jorge Calvillo Unna had a wonderful presentation about the designer’s responsibility. He reminded us of the need to change the way we think, if we want to make a change. At the same time we need to be careful of our interventions, and have to remember to always listen to the people we are doing projects for. We don’t have time to sit around, we need to act because time has already run out. Continuous growth is not the right direction. He also talked about networks all around us, how everything is connected, about the relations between us and the universe and all the borders around us that are actually meeting points and connectors. He too boosted his listeners to have confidence and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Dr. Roeb García Arrazola shared his work of reaching community participation at Xochimilco UNESCO Heritage Site. His bottom line was that water is essential – we can’t make it without water, and forming leaders with entrepraneural spirit, human sense and global responsibilites can make the difference, of which he was the perfect, positive example himself.

Biologist U. Delfín Montañana gave us a fantastic insight into the inspiration and innovation nature holds. His talk made a point of reminding us of the connections of the universe once again – tug on anything at all and you’ll find it’s connected to the rest of the universe. To make a difference, we need to act, think and be different. Also to understand the potential of a community, we need to learn about the roots of the community. To sum it up; silence your intelligence, be humble, go to the nature, be curious! The principles of life should be the principles of design.

Architect Oscar Hagerman walked us through his life work with indigenous communities. His presentation showed beautiful examples of projects that have been made in collaboration with different communities, and gave us examples of the process of working in the field. His last words were so touching that many of us were almost moved to tears. His dedication and commitment as a designer is one that has clearly made the world a better place, and his message to us ended in the soothing notion that little by little we’ll all find our way as designers and professionals -not necessarily meaning we’ll ever be “ready”. We have to strive to live in peace with our brothers, and we have to use our right to design the world around us for it to become a better place.

Day two started with the energtic talk by MA Irma Laura Uribe Santibañez, who took us through “Community development’s role in making the world a better place”. She stated that not being a designer can be very beneficial to a project. She presented the definitions of wellbeing, community and development, and reminded us that Aalto LAB is a facilitator, never a provider of community development. Sc. Omar Rojas gave us the perspective of the challenge of sustainability: Engineering in Sustainable Development. With the contiunous growth of world population and explotation of natural resources, we don’t have enough planets to sustain our current lifestyle. We have until 2050 to change the way we are living, if we want to avoid total collapse. There is a serious need for social responsability and awareness to make the change happen, and his own projects are attacking these issues with excellent results.

Engineer Rodolfo Alvarado gave us a great lecture titled “Democratization by solar energy”. With the natural systems collapsing, the key to future energy production is in solar energy, which is a free resource for all. HIs comparison of the amount of jobs the fossil fuel industry creates in comparison to the renewable energy sources was a true eye-opener. Since we’ve managed to change the balance of the world, we need to change the our ways to balance it out so that our planet can survive.

Last but not least, our beloved Gregory Perez and Hei Cheng from IDEO shared the IDEO-filosophy and gave some examples of the work that had been done by their international team around the world. We’ll go deeper into their methodology as Aalto LAB Mexico gets their hands dirty in the field. Can’t wait!!!!

Thank you to the univeristies of TEC, UNAM and Aalto, for making this event happen. The word is out there and now it’s time to get to work, think globally, act locally! We’ll report back in a week, with all the amazing experiences we’ll have to share. Hasta la vista!


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