Parsons SDS, Parsons DESIS Lab and the Centre for Social Innovation are partnering together to offer our graduates a post-graduate incubator program aimed to build a bridge between academic and professional worlds.
Designing the WE is one of the School of Design Strategies alumni postgraduate groups to join the Centre for Innovation Incubator Program. The team of transdisciplinary designers, researchers and planners whose work spans diverse settings from Pennsylvania to Nigeria has 40 years of combined professional experience ranging from work in small rural towns to cities on five continents.
What does Designing the WE do?
Designing the WE focuses on how we collaborate to break out of siloed and top-down solutions while building innovative projects for social impact. They offer tailored workshops, incubator program and consulting services for unpacking a particular problem, developing a project, or building larger collaborative processes with multiple stakeholders.
“We co-create comprehensive projects that consider all aspects of a problem, breaking the silos that often constrict the perspective of competitors to cookie-cutter solutions.”
DTW utilizes a holistic, purpose-driven approach: Participatory Research, Planning and Design; Project Incubation and Management; Collaborative Methods; Impact Evaluation and Evolution. They are a hybrid benefit corporation that functions as a Social Lab, R&D consultancy and long-term project incubator, partner, networker and friend. DTW theory of change is: The more we co-operate, co-create and co-produce, the more meaningful, sustainable and just our impact will become.
Braden Crooks ’14 is a gardener and landscape architect who entered into the fray of community organizing and advocacy. He founded Groundswell PA, an organization that passed the first popular vote to ban fracking using an Environmental Bill of Rights.
April De Simone ’14 has 15 years of experience in strategically designing, developing and launching for-profit, non-profit and government projects. She is Dean Merit Scholar, and was nominated as a candidate for New York State’s Economic Council Initiative.
Ron Morrison ’14 is a curious amalgam: both designer and social practitioner, June Jordan devotee and lover of lab coats. He has been working to create popular education pedagogies using art and design to demystify processes of attaining and preserving housing, and has had work featured at AIA New York, UN World Urban Forum, and in The Atlantic.
Dagny A. Tucker ’14 brings a breadth and depth of experience as an ideator and actionist. Her various professional capacities range from strategist and advisor, conflict specialist and mediator to academic and speaker. Dagny’s focus, is on navigating the complexity of systems thinking in order to forge new (and encourage re-emerging) concepts of sustainability in both physical and social constructs.
Propeller is part of the postgraduate incubator program at the Centre for Social Innovation formed by 3 MFA Transdisciplinary Design Graduates who have a great passion for service design. Michael Varona ’14 brings business degree and over a decade’s worth of professional marketing, branding, and business development experience. Sean Baker ’14 (more…)
Designing the We team gave the Centre for Social Innovation a taste of Parsons when they appropriated multiple white boards to diagram and design potential workshop curriculums. Along with suggestions from Centre for Social Innovation members passing by, the team brought forward their past experience in collaborative methods, design, pedagogy, incubation and skill-building to (more…)
Rhea Alexander (left) and Patty Beirne (right), faculty of the School of Design Strategies co-founded the Entrepreneurial Lab along with Dean Alison Mears and Eduardo Staszowski of DESIS lab to bridge academic and professional practices for a select group of recent alumni from the Parsons School of Design Strategies graduate programs. The ELab’s distributed network model leverages the new collaborative economy to provide recent graduates with key opportunities to realize their entrepreneurial ventures.
What do you look for in a candidate alumni for the ELab grant?
First ideally we look for well thought out plans that have a proof of concept and a good handle on numbers. We look for ideas that are innovative, that deliver a service in a unique way (the differentiation), that have clearly articulated value proposition and competitive advantage, and most importantly that present a plan on how the idea will be making money.
In the grantees themselves we look for characteristics like self motivation, drive, tenacity, integrity, humility, energy, vision, reliability, commitment, excellent communication skills, respect, comprehension of what it takes, that they can stick to their word, and that not only can they articulate their passion, but also display their ambitions through actions.
We also look for innovative, motivated, conscientious alumni who have a track record of learning from “failure” in order to drive their projects to more successful outcomes. This program is most appropriate for alumni who seek to build a long term practice of entrepreneurship.
What does the ELab bring to Parsons and the SDS program specifically?
The Elab is an opportunity for a select few post-graduates to fast-track into entrepreneurs. We offer a little extra support, facilitation and connection that the alumni can then develop on their own. In order to serve a community that has emerged from a suite of programs forging new territory for design practitioners, the ELab has created an agile model of extended mentorship that focuses on the professional implementation of the ideas and methodologies that our alumni have nurtured and applied both during and immediately following their graduate studies at Parsons.
What does a mentor do in the Elab?
As mentors in the Elab, we focus on identifying the needs of our grantees and match those needs with opportunities afforded by our strategic partners. In order to best identify those needs, we work closely with our them on crafting a message that best communicates the value that their work offers and the contexts in which their work can be applied. We have regular check-ins each semester with them throughout the length of the time they are in the program. We hold midway assessments, develop workshops and organize talks. We’re on call should they have questions. We advise and facilitate introductions to potential stakeholders, partners or advisors. We supply them with needed material and content, and help them stay on track by setting benchmarks. We review assets and materials, and give critical feedback.
We act very similar to how a board member or advisor would outside of the program but the difference here is that the cost is covered by the program. And most importantly, we are there for moral support, to believe in them, push them and cheer them on, because everyone needs a cheerleader!
Stay tuned to the ELab news and future preparatory workshops and application processes.
Summer Design and Facilitation Intern
Please email a resume and brief cover letter by May 15th to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Designing the We is looking for a talented and driven person to be our intern. This person should be inspired by design for social justice, social media and video experience is preferred. You will also learn from our team assisting with workshops and other professional activities. You’ll experience a startup atmosphere and have the chance to work with designers, artists and clients who are part of the DTW network. The position is unpaid for the time being, but comes with perks like free coffee at the amazing Centre for Social Innovation! We want to consider you a part of our team and family, co-creating a valuable experience.
Assist with community workshops
Website and social media
Photography and video
Work at the Centre for Social Innovation: New York’s premier co-working space for change-makers. Part of the Parsons Elab.
We are a start-up, so there are many opportunities for expansion of the role as we take on more projects.
Please email a resume and brief cover letter by May 15th to email@example.com