Reimagining Activism

 

​Streamlining small-scale creative volunteer efforts

By Lisa Paravano

When I think of volunteering, I picture working at a soup kitchen. While these traditional models are needed, new ones are emerging. This past summer, social media acted as a tool for activism. Illustrators with large followings offered commissions in return for $15 donation receipts. A youtuber posted a compilation of art by black creators where all ad revenue was donated to BLM– it got over 10 million views. My project is a streamlined catalog of this creative activist energy, channeling it into fights for progress in an accessible way. 

 

Challenge

 

I began my thesis by exploring interaction barriers in cities, and what forms them-- community building has always fascinated me.

 

However, I couldn’t research the social fibers of urban places without discussing systemic inequalities. From New Yorkers ignoring the homeless, to students ending friendships due to uncomfortable differences in spending patterns, it was clear that these inequalities are not separate from our everyday interactions. Especially within the context of 2020, a shift to social impact was challenging but felt natural. 

 

Outcome

 

A newly educated population emerged that doesn’t know how to start supporting progress. Creative forms of activism exist everywhere online, but follower counts and algorithms limit who interacts with this. These factors combined to create an interesting opportunity space. 

 

By speaking with independent creators, and questioning how activism can be incentivized, I created a website prototype. This acts as one of many possible ways that my objective can be achieved: to reimagine what it means to volunteer skills we have already nurtured.

Key words

Prototyping, Social Impact, User Experience, Social Media, Localizing Spending

Parsons School of Design has offered students innovative approaches to education since its founding in 1896.  Today we’re the only American art and design school within a comprehensive university, The New School, which also houses a rigorous liberal arts college and a progressive performing arts school. Our undergraduate and graduate programs, offered through Parsons’ five schools, immerse students in focused training, interdisciplinary inquiry, and practice-based collaborative learning. Here creators and scholars master established art and design fields and advance emerging ones while studying a range of university disciplines.

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