Design and Disaster After Sandy

November 4, 2012

Charging Station, Union Square, NYC (photo by Brennan Cavanaugh).

The Worldstudio Foundation office is located in lower Manhattan and today is our first day back here after the devastating hurricane last week. We were a bit inconvenienced to be without power for many days and access to convenient public transportation, but we were incredibly lucky because none of us were injured or had any property damage. Our gratitude abounds this week and our deepest sympathies go to the countless number of people that faired much worse in this intensely destructive natural disaster. In the aftermath, more and more heartbreaking stories of loss and grief are emerging.

By now, most of the electricity in New York City has been restored and the metropolis is quickly resuming its fast pace of daily life. However, in the upcoming days, weeks, months and years we can’t forget that a disproportionate number of people in our community will be facing a new reality of powerlessness as a direct result from the hurricane. And that the people most in need today were already struggling to survive before Sandy: the poor, elderly, unemployed and youth in underserved communities.

At Design Ignites Change we are hopeful about the opportunity for designers to make a difference not only for the victims of this disaster but also for inevitable future natural disasters. After all, much of what was destroyed were material objects—things and structured conceived by designers. And most of the relief work is facilitated through products and designed systems—from flashlights, modified subway maps and cell phone charging stations to FEMA vehicles, National Guard helicopters and emergency response systems.

As an immediate response, you can donate to places such as the American Red Cross, Occupy Sandy and the Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Recovery Fund. If you are located in or near New York City, you can volunteer you time; check with WNYC, Time Out New York, New York Cares or Brokelyn for opportunities.

We strongly believe that creatives have great potential to bring innovative positive change to disaster relief, prevention and preparedness; we look forward to creating visibility around the design community’s response to Sandy. Please be in touch with us about your efforts towards this important task.