By Jennifer Leonard
Growing up in Canada in the '80s – between episodes of Mork & Mindy and Welcome Back, Kotter – I was exposed to an entertaining mix of public service announcements as a result of a government initiative called ParticipACTION. It was about creatively battling exorbitant health care costs through mobilizing citizens to “keep fit and have fun!” and not “just think about it, do it!”
I’d often get great pleasure out of seeing a well-clad (actor) couple in matching track suits and terry headbands who would demonstrate cool moves to get the heart pumping and the muscles limber. Other times, they would appear in a kitchen (still as sporty as ever) instructing viewers on how to whip up low-cal, low-fat recipes for a family of four. The TV campaign was completely cheesy but, upon reflection, I now see seeds of greatness somewhere amid their jumping jacks and Chicken à la King.
“Participaction” is a fabulous concept! For me, today, it invokes active community-wide engagement in an effort to serve the greater good. I’d love to resurrect participactionary thinking in the realm of social design. How can we pull together, across disciplines, from near and far, to collaboratively take positive action? How can we put design memes out into the world that spur community-building around something larger than self?
Although likely not called “participactionary” till now, I can think of at least two shining examples from South America – from two of ...