Example #59 Design and Communities

What if design and technology were about serving communities?

Patrick wanted his design and technology class to think about design as something that could make a difference to a community.

"I started the lesson by showing images of Swaziland showing its climate and landscape. I sketched the following scenario:

"There are many creative and enthusiastic people in Swaziland but there is little work (40% unemployment) and many people cannot afford to buy medical care or schooling for their children and have little money to spend in the shops. Tourists do come to Swaziland to see the wonderful wildlife and often buy local goods. I asked students to imagine they were local investors willing to put money into some small businesses in the area. I divided the class into teams and they each came up with a simple design idea for a small business. I gave them the following to think about:

  • A simple product made from recycled materials that could be sold in a craft market on a stall that catered for children
  • Who they think will buy it
  • What difference the business might make to the local community if it flourished

The students’ ideas ranged from pencil cases to decorative ‘sleeves’ for drinks bottles to keep them cool. Together we looked at the difference these ideas might make if translated into small businesses. We wrote the results of our discussion on cereal boxes. These were set up as a domino rally showing the positive ‘knock on’ effects. Examples:

  • If the business were successful it would pay workers who would have more money for medical care and education
  • Workers would spend money in the shop
  • The shop might be able to employ more staff
  • The staff would have more money to spend on health and education, etc.

What’s going on here?

Patrick saw design as a way of making a difference to communities by bringing about change.

Patrick engaged students by pointing them to a community focus and having them rethink the wider consequences of design work for a community. He had them actively invest their own ideas in this process.

He reshaped his practice by changing the context for a creative design task, asking questions that pushed the focus out to others, and finding concrete ways of encouraging students that change is possible and helping them imagine the outcome (domino activity).

How do I do this myself? (Primary) How do I do this myself? (Secondary)

What does this have do with faith, hope and love?

Christian faith and love grow and are exercised in community, as part of the fellowship with other Christians. Christians can form serving communities that bring hope to the wider community. The Bible emphasises people in community. Often the word ‘you’ in the Bible is plural but we it read as singular because our culture tends to stress the individual. For example: ‘You are God’s temple’ (1 Corinthians 3:16) is plural but is often read as singular.

What difference does it make?

Changing the scenario made students think about the community aspect of change and the effects that our work can have on others, rather than just design for individuals. The unit also offered encouragement that change is possible, as the effects of actions can multiply.

Where could we go from here?

Pupils can explore different ways of using design and technology to make a difference to communities. They can look at low tech solutions to community problems (using, for instance, the Low-tech Magazine http://www.lowtechmagazine.com) and how small initiatives can make big differences.

Digging deeper

We each live within overlapping communities: family, church, district, nation, and world. As part of God’s human family we are bound to these wider communities, not just our local ones. People can use their gifts to help communities to flourish. In the Bible, people who had been taken away as captives to foreign cities were told to work for the peace and welfare of those cities (Jeremiah 29:7). The Christian hope for the future is a communal one, a city where peace and love define life.

A man of a right spirit is … concerned for the good of the community to which he belongs, and particularly of the city or village in which he resides, and for the true welfare of the society of which he is a member. Jonathan Edwards

We cooperate with the Holy Spirit to be agents of change. The Bible talks of the ‘fellowship’ of the Holy Spirit, this word can also be translated ‘partner’ in the appropriate context, it carries both meanings (2 Corinthians 13:14).

God is looking for you and me to be fellow workers with God. Desmond Tutu

Explore similar examples:

What if design and technology brought delight to others?
What if a topic on ‘People who help us’ became ‘Serving the community'?
What if history were about being agents of change?

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1My friends, you are acting like the people of this world. That's why I could not speak to you as spiritual people. You are like babies as far as your faith in Christ is concerned. 2So I had to treat you like babies and feed you milk. You could not take solid food, and you still cannot, 3because you are not yet spiritual. You are jealous and argue with each other. This proves that you are not spiritual and that you are acting like the people of this world. 4Some of you say that you follow me, and others claim to follow Apollos. Isn't that how ordinary people behave? 5Apollos and I are merely servants who helped you to have faith. It was the Lord who made it all happen. 6I planted the seeds, Apollos watered them, but God made them sprout and grow. 7What matters isn't those who planted or watered, but God who made the plants grow. 8The one who plants is just as important as the one who waters. And each one will be paid for what they do. 9Apollos and I work together for God, and you are God's garden and God's building. Only one foundation 10God was kind and let me become an expert builder. I laid a foundation on which others have built. But we must each be careful how we build, 11because Christ is the only foundation. 12Whatever we build on that foundation will be tested by fire on the day of judgment. Then everyone will find out if we have used gold, silver, and precious stones, or wood, hay, and straw. 14We will be rewarded if our building is left standing. 15But if it is destroyed by the fire, we will lose everything. Yet we ourselves will be saved, like someone escaping from flames. 16All of you know that you are God's temple and that his Spirit lives in you. 17Together you are God's holy temple, and God will destroy anyone who destroys his temple. 18Don't fool yourselves! If any of you think you are wise in the things of this world, you will have to become foolish before you can be truly wise. 19This is because God considers the wisdom of this world to be foolish. It is just as the Scriptures say, God catches the wise when they try to outsmart him. 20The Scriptures also say, The Lord knows that the plans made by wise people are useless. 21So stop boasting about what anyone has done. Paul and Apollos and Peter all belong to you. In fact, everything is yours, including the world, life, death, the present, and the future. Everything belongs to you, 23and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. The work of the apostles
1I had been left in Jerusalem when King Nebuchadnezzar took many of the people of Jerusalem and Judah to Babylonia as prisoners, including King Jehoiachin, his mother, his officials, and the metal workers and others in Jerusalem who were skilled in making things. So I wrote a letter to the prophets, the priests, the leaders, and the rest of our people in Babylonia. 3I gave the letter to Elasah and Gemariah, two men that King Zedekiah of Judah was sending to Babylon to talk with Nebuchadnezzar. In the letter, I wrote 4that the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, had said: I had you taken from Jerusalem to Babylonia. Now I tell you 5to settle there and build houses. Plant gardens and eat what you grow in them. 6Get married and have children, then help your sons find wives and help your daughters find husbands, so they can have children as well. I want your numbers to grow, not to get smaller. 7Pray for peace in Babylonia and work hard to make it prosperous. The more successful that nation is, the better off you will be. 8Some of your people there in Babylonia are fortune-tellers, and you have asked them to tell you what will happen in the future. But they will only lead you astray. And don't let the prophets fool you, either. They speak in my name, but they are liars. I have not spoken to them. 10After Babylonia has been the strongest nation for seventy years, I will be kind and bring you back to Jerusalem, just as I have promised. 11I will bless you with a future filled with hopea future of success, not of suffering. 12You will turn back to me and ask for help, and I will answer your prayers. 13You will worship me with all your heart, and I will be with you 14and accept your worship. Then I will gather you from all the nations where I scattered you, and you will return to Jerusalem. 15You feel secure, because you think I have sent prophets to speak for me in Babylonia. 16But I have been sending prophets to the people of Judah for a long time, and the king from David's family and the people who are left in Jerusalem and Judah still don't obey me. So I, the Lord All-Powerful, will keep attacking them with war and hunger and disease, until they are as useless as rotten figs. I will force them to leave the land, and all nations will be disgusted and shocked at what happens to them. The nations will sneer and make fun of them and use the names Judah and Jerusalem as curse words. And you have not obeyed me, even though 20I had you taken from Jerusalem to Babylonia. But you had better listen to me now. 21You think Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah are prophets because they claim to speak for me. But they are lying! I haven't told them anything. They are also committing other horrible sins in your community, such as sleeping with the wives of their friends. So I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar, who will put them to death while the rest of you watch. And in the future, when you want to put a curse on someone, you will say, I pray that the Lord will kill you in the same way the king of Babylonia burnt Zedekiah and Ahab to death! A message for Shemaiah 24The Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, told me what would happen to Shemaiah, who was one of our people in Babylonia. After my letter reached Babylonia, Shemaiah wrote letters to the people of Jerusalem, including the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, and the other priests. The letter to Zephaniah said: 26After the death of Jehoiada the priest, the Lord chose you to be the priest in charge of the temple security force. You know that anyone who acts mad and pretends to be a prophet should be arrested and put in chains and iron collars. 27Jeremiah from the town of Anathoth is pretending to be a prophet there in Jerusalem, so why haven't you punished him? 28He even wrote a letter to the people here in Babylonia, saying we would be here a long time. He told us to build homes and to plant gardens and grow our own food. 29When Zephaniah received Shemaiah's letter, he read it to me. 30Then the Lord told me what to write in a second letter 31to the people of Judah who had been taken to Babylonia. In this letter, I wrote that the Lord had said: I, the Lord , have not chosen Shemaiah to be one of my prophets, and he has misled you by telling lies in my name. 32He has even talked you into disobeying me. So I will punish Shemaiah. He and his descendants won't live to see the good things I will do for my people. I, the Lord , have spoken. The Lord will rescue Israel and Judah
1I am on my way to visit you for the third time. And as the Scriptures say, Any charges must be proved true by at least two or three witnesses. 2During my second visit I warned you that I would punish you and anyone else who doesn't stop sinning. I am far away from you now, but I give you the same warning. 3This should prove to you that I am speaking for Christ. When he corrects you, he won't be weak. He will be powerful! 4Although he was weak when he was nailed to the cross, he now lives by the power of God. We are weak, just as Christ was. But you will see that we will live by the power of God, just as Christ does. 5Test yourselves and find out if you really are true to your faith. If you pass the test, you will discover that Christ is living in you. But if Christ isn't living in you, you have failed. 6I hope you will discover that we have not failed. 7We pray that you will stop doing evil things. We don't pray like this to make ourselves look good, but to get you to do right, even if we are failures. 8All we can do is to follow the truth and not fight against it. 9Even though we are weak, we are glad that you are strong, and we pray that you will do even better. 10I am writing these things to you before I arrive. This way I won't have to be hard on you when I use the authority that the Lord has given me. I was given this authority, so that I could help you and not destroy you. 11Goodbye, my friends. Do better and pay attention to what I have said. Try to get along and live peacefully with each other. Now I pray that God, who gives love and peace, will be with you. 12Give each other a warm greeting. All God's people send their greetings. 13I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will bless you and be kind to you! May God bless you with his love, and may the Holy Spirit join all your hearts together.