We Teach Me

RMIT communication design lecturer and one of my mentors of the past 6 months Yoko Akama introduced me to Marty Kemka, co-founder of We Teach Me. Seeing greater potential in the area of mature age education, the team believes that if you want to continue learning in your adult years, you shouldn’t have to go back to uni. Instead, We Teach Me creates a learning community where passionate people share their interests in lessons. You can teach and/or learn, and you can also request classes that you would be like to attend and if there is enough interest We Teach Me will try to help you out.

From astrology to fitness and paper craft, We Teach Me is a platform where you can take control of your learning and your day-to-day life is enhanced instead of disrupted.

It was exciting to meet Marty a few weeks ago as he really believes design can be a powerful tool in businesses. Many of the older, well established social enterprises I have spoken to in the past did not see how design was relevant to them. From chatting to various enterprises, I believe this is to do with the age of the business and it’s employees, as well as their flexibility. We Teach Me is a start up with a young team and an open mind, ready to try radical, yet well founded ideas.

I will be joining the We Teach Me team to see if I can input a bit of service and system design, focussing on making the lessons exciting and memorable and the online/offline transition silky smooth. May the service design gods smile upon this enterprise!


Post-presentation, the gang

A glimpse at some of the other fantastic projects in our ‘Social and Sustainable’ Studio, and my attempt to describe them in one sentence. We’ve got some pretty cool things going on, go team!

Starting above with Siobhan Cribbin: redesigning primary school education.

Zachary Beal: investigating sustainable food production in cities.

Ee Teck: human powered fun at festivals.

Ee Teck with his collection of prototypes: this one is a machine you crank which can then record and replay sounds.

Charles Skender: water conservation in the shower.

Siobhan reading one of the many books that were produced for the presentation.

Phillipe: 3D printers for sustainable consumption.

Michell McDonell: sustainable fabric waste.

Kate Osca Vella: eco sustainability in Geelong SME’s, my counterpart in the eco space.

Chris Herman: dog waste to biogas fuel for park lights, working with Yarra council.

Ash Smith: sustainable clothes washing of the future.

Bryce Tayleur: making hearing more accessible in Australia.

Rebekah Crawford: mapping and improving sustainability in Malvern East.

Unfortunately lacking images, we also have-

Bolaji Teniola: sustainable, artisan footwear in Australia.

Charlotte Hannah: a clothing share system and app.

Credit for all images goes to Charlotte Hannah.

Justin Hutchinson


Justin Hutchinson came to chat to our Professional Practice class as a friend of the lecturer, Tim Collins, and a professional industrial designer. It was quite interesting in a traditional product design sort of way and I asked him a few questions about convincing clients that aren’t already excited about design to hire you, and about sustainability. We were out of time, so he told me to email him for more info. He later agreed to a catch up the following week.

So on May 3rd I went round to his studio at the Abbotsford Convent to chat further on these topics. It turned out that Hutchinson is a goldmine of knowledge and experience in the area of sustainability through design! He has done a Diploma of Sustainability at Swinburne and worked on quite a few community projects and is keen to inject his design skills and sustainable goals into the Abbotsford Convent and wider community in the form of Urban Commons (a few concept images here). He shares his studio with Dhiren Bhagwadas who is also invested in the idea with a few others.

Justin talked about writing a roadmap- identifying people that can help, stakeholders involved, value you are adding, policies that exist… Writing yourself a guide to the fruition your idea. He mentioned that this is a year of change, where our economic model is changing, causing designers and other disciplinarians to redefine what is valuable. Finally, Justin spoke of clarity. Consumers are increasingly making decisions based on the story behind a product, system or service. It’s sustainability included. This shouldn’t be the basis of a social enterprise, it should primarily be a good business, but it is interesting that the people want to know the back story and that this emotional investment in the product is encouraging sustainable business.

I look forward to seeing what Justin undertakes with Urban Commons, and he may just be looking for interns in a few months to help out…

Origami instillation for the (inside) Design Awards 2006.

‘More thought, less material’

Chairs above designed by Daniel Barbera, Brad Nicholls and Ross Gardam from the Before and After project, a collaboration between the Brotherhood of St Lawrence, Justin Hutchinson and Dhiren Bhagwandas. The participating designers took objects from the Brotherhood bins and made them into objects of high design and desire. This was a temporary project. Do you think it would work as a permanent store?

Design Studies Open Forum

After the mid semester reviews, Ella and Emma hosted an open forum discussing social sustainability. Sitting in a big circle, we shared our experiences and ideas on the topic. There was a great turn out, and the discussion really got somewhere.

One idea that kept coming back was starting up ID Commons, a design group that Tim started up a few years ago, just to get the students talking and create a design community in building 88. One of the students from Activating Change wants to start it up again. It would be great to get it going, I can see the benefits of the small activities already going on in 88, upscaling this and making it official with a fortnightly event would be super beneficial.

It was great to see people of all ages and stages of life discussing what could be done with this group of people with various talents and ambitions. Skill sharing was also touched on, a mentorship or sharing system. Each student across the Architecture and Design School has their own strengths and weaknesses, but put together, we’re sitting on a goldmine of talent. Lets tap into it!

Activating Change Mid-Sem Review

Where to start?? Mick invited fellow Social Studio member Zac and I to attend the mid-semester review for his class and provide some feedback and guidance. Zac and I were described as ‘sustainability guru’ and ‘founder of YESS’ respectively, what titles! We had big expectations to meet! We were joined by recent grad Tim, lecturer and food activist Juliette and later by Alissa of FYA.

The students have been working alone or in groups to create change in areas they are passionate about. These include the Victorian fishing industry, food waste, social sustainability, art, education and community gardens. Some of the groups have already been very active, hosting events as shown in the posters above and below. All in all these have been a great success, showing that in order to achieve something, you should just get things happening straight away, don’t worry about months of preparation to make it perfect, just get your hands dirty and things will get moving!

It was great to see what they have done and it will be even better to see where they go with the rest of semester. Providing feedback was also a good experience, it was nice to be on the other side after 4 years of my own presentations!

Ella and Emma


Ella and Emma are two students in Mick Douglas’ Activating Change elective at RMIT. They both have big plans for world change and together they are making it happen. They each have their own mission, but their agendas compliment each other nicely, resulting in a very powerful relationship. Keep an eye on what they’re up to at their website, because they keep a fascinating blog and the result of a semester’s hard work is shaping up to be quite epic.

My interests line up well with Ella and Emma’s. We’ve had some great discussions over good food and I can see we will be working together a fair bit in the future. Thanks to you girls for the shared ideas, events, resources and brainstorms.