Social Enterprise in Fast Company

Just a few great articles over at FastCo. Social Enterprise is a thing and it’s not going away! Win.

 Games For Civic Participation, Social Causes, And Fun

Extremely Efficient Breast Exams From Blind German Women

 The Rise of Social Entrepreneurship, From Innovation To Industry


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!

Now you can intern at TACSI!

Just a quick update, after our stunning appearance at TACSI (check out Ella and my blog post here), the Radical Redesign team have decided they love interns and want a more permanent one. It is a great opportunity, click here to check it out! The position in a very small nutshell:

  • 8-10 weeks at the TACSI office, Adelaide
  • Design background required, including visual communications skills
  • You must be a team player and a people person
  • You will be working on the ‘Weavers‘ project, in the aged care field
  • TACSI can assist with relocation within Australia, accommodation and provide a stipend
  • Starting ASAP!

Apply using this form. Hop to it!

Two days at TACSI

The daily standup meeting, answering the questions 1. What did you do yesterday? 2. What will you do today? 3. What obstacles can you anticipate?

A few weeks ago fellow ID student Ella Sayers and I headed off to Adelaide to get a peek behind the doors of TACSI’s new residence. For two days from 9am-7pm we discovered the ins and outs of the Weavers project, a Radical Redesign initiative in the aged care field that looks to activate the family and friends of carers as support networks. The role of the ‘Weaver’ is to provide support in times of crisis and give carers techniques and tools to manage the caring role in the long term and help the aged to live their lives to the full. There was a whole new language to learn, including ‘Weavers’ and ‘Knowers’ and ‘Networks’. We sat in on meetings and eavesdropped on phone calls; the staff in the Radical Redesign very generously answered all our questions and getting us up to speed. After a day at TACSI we had a bit of a grasp on the concept and began pitching in.

Testing out the logos, fonts and countless images at our disposal.

Ella and I were working on a booklet to assist the staff when recruiting Weavers and explaining the Weaver concept. The Radical Redesign team leant us plenty of material to get us on our way, including a laptop (thank you DP!). We came up with a small brochure with picture stories to help describe the kind of things Weavers can get up to.

The ‘Community Corner’ with our additions of streamers and bunting.

TACSI understands the importance of play to innovation. There are jars of rainbow coloured pens, crepe paper and white boards a plenty. A sense of humour is welcome and wacky ideas are encouraged. This results in a workplace where all staff feel comfortable around each other, happy to say what they really think and throw ideas out there. One aspect of this sense of fun and family is the ‘Community Corner’ as commissioned by Jenna. With each staff member given a letter of the title to create, Ella and I were given the task of adding to the corner. We decided that hot pink streamers and bunting always make things better.

From left to right, Chris, Ella, myself and Sarah having a very serious discussion about the previous two days. Melbourne designer black was the go-to professional clothing option, the plan backfiring and standing out the studio’s colourful space.

At the end of our two day immersion, Ella and I sat down with the team to share our impressions of the studio and theirs of us. Our comments included the following:

  • TACSI has a friendly, open environment. The staff respect and take care of each other, at the same time understanding that failure is important on the path to a project that is a successful, long term solution.
  • It is a multi-disciplinary team, and it works. Social science, industrial design, business, visual communications and technology specialists all work together and teach each other new things everyday. The mix allows the team to cover more ground and have a
  • Organisation is key; the stand up meetings and shared digital and hard copy documents help everyone to work toward the same goals.

The staff were pretty interested to hear our impressions as newcomers to the project. And I think they got something out of it too. They are interested in having more interaction with universities and wanted to know if more students were getting into the area of social innovation. Good news all round!

The two day visit was an intense, illuminating and valuable experience. Both Ella and I took a whole day to come down from the ‘TACSI high’ as we described it. We can’t wait to see what they get up to next, and hopefully we’ll be back there in person soon!

Update: Check out our official blog report over at the TACSI blog! We made the front page of the website too, not bad. And apply for a longer internship, here.


These are some snap shots from my presentation on Social Innovation, Design and Enterprise (S.I.D.E. if you have a better name please let me know). I was explaining my first semester of research and the conclusions that I had come to:

  1. What the area of SIDE looks like now
  2. What I want it to look like in the future
  3. How to get there.
Please click here for a closer look at my poster, or here for a closer look at the book that I produced.

The presentation materials were supplied by social enterprises in order to prove the point that consumers can turn to these businesses for high quality products and services that are in their local area and have a the bonus of being a feel-good purchase. Blouse by Dear Gladys, African donuts and fruit balls by The Social Studio, paper by Green Collect and book inspiration thanks to Beehive.

The panel for my presentation consisted of lecturers Soumitri and Liam, Centre of Design’s Simon Lockrey,  VEIL’s (Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab) Jessica Bird, industrial designer Justin Hutchinson, fashion designer Georgia McCorkill of the Red Carpet Project and Service Design and DESIS’ Yoko Akama.

I was given some great advice and ideas in the feedback time, with the one of the best comments being from Georgia, something along the lines of ‘I’m usually afraid of the whole topic of social enterprise, but now it makes sense to me’. That was pretty exciting because one of the biggest challenges of the semester has been clearly explaining my area of interest.

All in all a successful presentation, I think my poster design skills are slowly getting better, thanks mostly to the highly talented graphic designerly types in the class, and Soumitri’s Japanese aesthetic lectures. And the snacks went down a treat!

Credit for all the images goes to Charlotte Hannah.

Shopping social enterprise

I have decided to try to only buy from social enterprises to produce my end of semester presentation. So yesterday I shopped around at three stores in my local area to see what I could find. A Green Collect outlet in Brunswick was my first stop. As they recycle office wares, I was hoping to find some paper to print my project book onto.

They have a great range of very well designed products. The basics were a bit more expensive than my usual purchases, but I could see that my money was going toward something good, both environmentally and socially.

Quite an extensive stationary section, with some beautiful diaries and notebooks made from old books and floppy disk cases. Most of the paper is office offcuts and there is some printing paper that Green Collect makes themselves. I had a great chat to the shop assistant Nikki, who told me the back story of all the stationary products and suggested I get in touch with co-founder Ben Quinn who runs the paper projects.

I left with a ream of A5 printing paper, a set of notebooks made from old folders and a hand printed sheet of wrapping paper. I was hoping for some A3 so that I could more easily bind my book, but having A5 has given me a few ideas, as has the wrapping paper.

Dear Gladys in Northcote was the next stop. It was a very adorable shop with a range of very classy and on-trend vintage wear. They didn’t have any paper stationary besides cards and diaries, but I fell in love with a blouse. My presentation outfit will be both professional and social enterprise approved!

Finally, I headed to Ishka in Fitzroy on Soumitri’s recommendation. I have walked past this shop for years but I never investigated properly before yesterday. They have some wonderful products from all over the world, especially India.

While browsing I spotted a pillow case (above) that was manufactured at the Barefoot College in Tilonia that I had visited on my exchange to India! It’s great to see social enterprises overseas importing their wares all the way down south to Australia.

I came away with a bunch of handmade and painted paper. Each sheet was half price from the original $4.80. I was torn between being excited that I could afford them and wondering if the price was a reflection on the wages and working conditions overseas.

I was uplifted in my discovery of so many social enterprises standing on their own two feet as successful businesses in my local area. The stores are do not rely on their ‘social enterprise’ status, instead the products are beautifully presented and lovingly made. Both aspects make me one happy customer. I challenge you to make your next shopping trip a social enterprise spree. Social Trader’s Social Enterprise Finder has been launched so you can easily look up places to go in your local area. You won’t be disappointed.