Shift: A Workshop that Challenges Design Thinking to Solve Social Justice Issues

Antionette Carroll
Antionette Carroll, founder and executive director of Creative Reaction Lab (CRXLAB) and president of American Institute Graphic Arts (AIGA) in St. Louis.

by Bri Kilroy

Our brains conjure a common image when we think about diversity success: a gradient of skin colors working, playing and living together, but how often does that image include a person in a wheelchair, stark contrasting income or even a white person? Do you ever assign the group a back-story in which they work together to solve major social issues?

Antionette Carroll, founder and executive director of Creative Reaction Lab (CRXLAB) and president of AIGA St. Louis, is visiting Grand Rapids. She is extending a workshop to citizenry that lets them delve into community engagement by designing a prototype campaign that addresses a social issue.

“When people hear diversity, they only think of color,” Carroll said. “This is highly inaccurate.”

Carroll hates the word “tolerate,” for she knows progressing beyond a history of injustice includes more than simply “dealing with” others. “It’s understanding and appreciating our differences,” Carroll said. “Not just tolerating.”

Carroll created CRXLAB shortly after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. As Head of Communications at Diversity Awareness Partnership (DAP), a non-profit that increases awareness about diversity and inclusion through education and programs, her team brainstormed how to bring the community together and transform debate into dialogue.

Shift focuses on a specific social justice issue and creates community-led solutions using creative problem solving and a design thinking process. The result causes designers and community members from all backgrounds to become active community engagers and develop creative solutions to the social issue at hand.

Some of West Michigan’s issues involve the water crisis in Flint, gentrification (neighborhoods increasing their property value and making it impossible for low-income community members to afford housing) and the high number of minorities in relation to the low number of job placements. Workshop participants address these types of issues and come up with innovative ways to solve the problem.

Shift brings an unconventional experience to Grand Rapids that needs to be absorbed into the mainstream. Anyone can sign up for the workshop at wwwWestMichigan.AIGA.org. A continental breakfast is included so participants have maximum energy to start tackling social issues with their utmost creativity. There are volunteer and hosting opportunities at www.CreativeReactionLab.com.

  • What: CRXLAB Shift workshop
  • Where: Grid 70 LLC, 70 Ionia Avenue SW #400, Grand Rapids
  • When: March 4, 7:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Registration: $30/students, $60/members, $75/non-members

“When people hear diversity, they only think of color,” Carroll said. “This is highly inaccurate.”


BriKilroyOnlineBio

Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumna who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio.

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