Planting seeds of empowerment and self-knowledge in individuals foster renewed interpersonal relations, collaborations and exchanges in their local contexts and beyond.

These projects aim to empower participants by supporting the recognition of their own personal, cultural and community values, base on which they can establish renewed relations with their localities, their communities and beyond. Buber holds the view of the primacy of the relationship versus the independence of the I.

However, the self-knowledge, the self-awareness of the I as an independent entity, and the recognition of one´s value favour deeper interpersonal relations and community building processes.  These projects open new communication processes between those involved.

Proposed projects

  1. Project Crafting Confidence (India – National Institute of Design – DESIS Lab) (bring back the confidence among the young Katwalia generation to own their craft profession)
  2. Project Margin to Margin: Women living on the edges of the world (Finland – University of Lapland- Arctic Design Lab – DESIS Lab) (how art empowers women living in marginal conditions through storytelling. The project was realised through a series of art and story-sharing workshops)
  3. Project Soap-ing. Working in Wellbeing. (China – Jiangnan University – DESIS Lab) (support the process by which mildly intellectually disabled- IDP – works in producing hand-made soaps: it includes the creation of unique production stories to help increase sales revenue and workshops   to support community and to help the social adaptability of IDPs)
  4. The Uncool Project “Where’s Daryl?” Educational Program (USA – DESIGNMATTERS – DESIS Lab) (educational toolkit features a fictional youth whose life is halted because he got involved with guns. 8 lesson plans use humour and stories to spark critical thinking and discussion)

Type of project

Projects that use mainly stories – story-telling and story-sharing – to foster self-knowledge and empowerment. Stories are also used to foster empathy between different groups and communities. This process helps to raise awareness of the values of a specific community, locality or process and to make them communicable to internal members and other actors. It may foster new interpersonal relations, collaborations or exchanges.

Open questions

  1. How can design processes foster empowerment and self-knowledge in the design team?
  2. How can we promote an educational process or training that prepare students or design teams to deal with personal and interpersonal issues respectfully and sensitively?