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Jennifer Leonard

San Francisco, CA, United States

Designer (Journalism)

Member since May 19, 2007

  • Participaction



    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 ...

  • Img_8029_177_

    We're pleased to have design researcher and writer Jennifer Leonard as DESIGN 21's resident blogger.

    I’m thrilled to get a slice of cyberspace every week to riff on the blooming notion of “design for social innovation.” It was a synergistic moment in Japan, several months ago when my keynote at the IdcN (International Design Center Nagoya) on this very topic sparked an “A-ha” moment in the minds (in attendance) behind DESIGN 21. They approached me, I accepted, and the music began. Tra la la.

    That fortuitous day, I spoke about my learning curve while researching and writing Massive Change, a book about the future of global design, and how my conversations with thought leaders across disciplines helped shape my unique point of view on design. By way of live-to-air dialogue for over one year with individuals who do not refer to themselves as “designers” (even though they apply their expertise to global problems, such as water shortage, mass transit, shelter, and disease), I came to see design as a global endeavor, born of intentions, grown by actions, and shared by one and all.

    Somehow, some way, I began to seek out problems that were being attacked at the root, whose goals were not surface detail or shape or physical structure but something more along the lines of systemic change. Design – a glorious process and practice that often yields equally glorious products – began to take on the mixed consistency of fluid water, blue sky and rich soil. I soon realized I...

"Design is people." - Jane Jacobs

Contact Jennifer Leonard
Renegade Media

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design