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Catapult Design

Catapult Design

Aid, Environment, Poverty

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  • Catapult Launch Party

    Poverty, Industrial Design


    It's official. Like any good catapult, this design consultancy is launching! Please help Catapult Design celebrate on Thursday, July 23, 2009, at the urban-chic Element Lounge, 1028 Geary Street, San Francisco. Doors will be open from 6pm to 10pm. Enjoy good drinks, good music, and good company. At 8pm, Catapult co-founders Heather Fleming and Tyler Valiquette will give a brief presentation about the organization. Tickets will be sold at the door for $10 or online at

    Catapult Design is a non-profit design consultancy that provides vital engineering and implementation support to organizations in need of technologies or products capable of igniting social change. For more information, visit


  • Pop!Tech 2008 Social Innovation Fellows: Part Two

    Arts & Culture, Industrial Design


    At the end of day 3 at Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellows Program and it's been a non-stop two days. Our programs run 13 hours per day -- our brains are constantly absorbing new information and being stretched and pulled to the limits. On top of that, most of us are deep in the midst of funding and communications. After a long day at the Point Lookout Conference Center, we had back to our cabins to put in a few hours of work. Four hours later we wake up and repeat the cycle.

    With that said, Pop!Tech treats its guests like royalty. They do their very best to reward their Fellows with comfort, mentorship, tools, and contacts. Did I mention that there's heaps of food on demand?

    Day two featured two intense sessions: "Funding Social Innovation" and "Taking Projects to Scale." Jon Balen of Canaan Ventures headed off "Funding" and Jim Koch and Kevin Starr led "Taking Projects to Scale." In the latter, each Fellow's organizations was individually evaluated by best evaluation metrics for economies of scale.

    Day three tapped into our creative sides with a morning session on "Digital Storytelling" led by David Sasaki. We finished out afternoon with "Media Training" by Fenton Communication and topped the evening with a personal conversation with Paul Polak, founder of International Development Enterprise and Bunker Roy, founder of Barefoot College in India. Both Polak and Roy shared their stories of what drives their enormou...

  • Catapult Design at Pop!Tech 2008: Part One

    Arts & Culture, Industrial Design


    Welcome to the Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellows Program.

    What is Pop!Tech? It's a non-profit focused on facilitating the conversation on the social impact of technology and innovation on people. Every year they host an annual conference in Camden, Maine and although this will be my first year in attendance, my impressions are: forward-thinking, connecting, and embracing opportunity. The type of people that attend PopTech are the type of people who make great things happen.

    What is the Social Innovation Fellows Program? A group of sixteen high-potential transformational change agents working on technology development for poor people throughout the world. Our 4-day training program includes workshops from industry leaders on: Branding, Design for Social Change, Digital Storytelling, Funding Social Change, Media Training, and Taking Projects to Scale. Each workshop is designed to make each of us more effective as leaders and social entrepreneurs.

    Before I left for Maine I had a few stressful, sleepless nights getting ready for the Fellows program. I boarded a red-eye to Portland, Maine and then napped through the two-hour drive to Camden, a small Norman Rockwell-esque community. We're housed at Point Lookout, a gorgeous resort center overlooking the ocean bay, Oh, and did I mention that the leaves are turning this month? It's a beautiful, serene setting.

    "Brand Camp" with Cheryl Heller, Heller Communication Design It's day one of the program and our first worksho...

  • Continuing Gary Zeiff's story of his travels in Tanzania. Gary is on Catapult Design's technology advisory committee:

    "5AM call for prayer wake me up. I'm dreaming that I'm back in Arusha, backtracking to when I landed in Kilimanjaro, but actually I'm in Bukoba. The dream is full of anxiety, but most of that has really washed away, now that I'm so close. Perhaps too it is about the new set of challenges to face. Bigger and more complicated, these are about starting the project, helping people, and putting tools and technology where it might not have been in the past.

    Wandering around Bukoba with Joel and Cynthia I see a small town much like those in India or even Haiti. Chaotic, noisy, and even dirty, people go about their lives much like they do anythwere else in the world. It's exciting to try out the few words of Swahili and see people's faces light up. This is the small connection that makes me happy that I'm here. We meet William from Kiroyerea Tours who has helped me with my inter Tanzania travels. Joel met him earlier and we will get some equipment sent to his office for pick up later. He's a warm affable man with a quick smile and generous spirit. He knows Leonard, our main contact for this project and explains that he is very well known in the area. William explains that he has done a lot of good for the people living here. Its' exciting to know that we have lucked onto a good contact.

    We investigate batteries and stores selling solar equipment....

  • Mg_9024_132_

    Gary Zeiff, founder of dissigno in San Francisco and Catapult Design Advisor, recently reached his destination in Africa after a long, arduous journey. Gary is working on a project that won his a grant from the World Bank's Development Marketplace competition. Gary's first email below:

    "Figurative tears run down my cheeks. After 5 days, 3 planes, 3 continents, many taxis, buses and cars myself and my precious cargo is a mere two hours jeep ride from the final destination. In this modern age, it really hasn't been difficult, but rather time consuming to get the pedal generator, a bunch of supplies, and all the cargo to keep my mortal coil spinning here on African soil. Cynthia (Joel's girlfriend) and I step down from the 19 seater turbo prop plane onto the red dirt runway of Bukoba and are greeted by Joel and William. The flight was exciting over Lake Victoria. The more so as we neared Karagwe dragging the large metal container carrying the pedal generator. It is nearing the end of this leg of the journey, but also the start of something new and exciting.

    Although I don't see much of Bukoba after landing, it smells and feels like the Africa I have been dreaming about since starting this project. It is lush and green. The roads are mostly red dirt packed hard after numerous carts, people and cars have driven it. It has a humid feel that I will get used to. Siting in the front seat of the van I watch the shore of Lake Victoria roll past.

    It is nice to be m...

  • Sustainable Transportation

    Environment, Environmental Design


    During my stay in New York last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with Walter Hook of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (or ITDP). A 23-year old organization, ITDP consults on mass transit systems and urban development for cities and governments. They focus on providing sustainable transportation systems -- advocating and strengthening bicycle systems, developing low-cost rickshaws, implementing bus rapid transit systems (a significant decrease in cost over subway and other rapid transit systems) and stressing the importance of low-emission, safe development that accounts for population growth.

    ITDP is active worldwide working on several high-profile projects both in the US as well as developing world countries. During my stay in India back in February, I spent a day in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal, which is a hotspot for viewing the evolution of the cycle rickshaw ITDP developed for India. Their prior prototypes are in use throughout the city, addressing the cities need to preserve the Taj Mahal by reducing the amount of air pollution around the city. Their final design cost only $100 -- 300,000 are operating in nine of India's major cities. From their website:

    "In collaboration with local experts, ITDP developed design innovations that made India's traditional cycle rickshaw lighter, more comfortable, and easier to handle. The improved design increased the earning power of cycle rickshaw operators and drew passengers away from highly polluting,...

The majority of our world's population lacks acces to life's basic needs. We develop and implment human-centered products to help them thrive.

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Catapult Design

972 Mission St. Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94103
United States

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Moderator: Heather Fleming