Liz Ogbu on Social Impact Design

In Liz Ogbu’s presentation, she talks about her experience being an architect. She explains that her job description does not neatly fall into a category. She instead explains that she would instead call herself an expert citizen, story-teller and a translator.

When Ogbu talks about how she is an expert citizen she explains that an expert citizen is pretty much like most people today. It is a person that is trained in a specialized activity or discipline to have themselves working in a specific community. To be the most specialized expert citizen, she explains, is also to not be stopped by subjectivity and to allow for more flexibility in work and life. This allows for better problem solving by being able to be adaptable in a situation.

When she talks about how she in an expert citizen, I like how she redefines her job. She is saying that her job is more of a community effort rather than an individual job. It takes more than herself to do her job and it makes her become more part of a community.

She also talks about her being a storyteller. In her projects she has to represent the people she is making the project for in order to help her idea get pushed forward. She has to relate to the people she is building for and try to put herself in their shoes for what would work for them. In a project she was tasked with, she was trying to represent the day laborers and get support from them to build a structure for them. First, she had to understand the laborers and find out what they wanted and needed. In the end, she found that for them they needed a set location to help the laborers identify themselves and a place to be grounded. She was trying to not just give people a place to work but also a sacred place.

The purpose of being a story-teller is also not just being a representative for a project but it is also to being attention to a problem that is happening. Her project with the day-laborers started a conversation about what needed to happen in other ways that just a place to feel sacred. The power of being a storyteller is to make people feel seen and heard and understood through design.

In being a translator, she is making the connection between a problem and what people need. So, Taking things that she hears and knowing what is to be made and making something tangible from it.

From hearing Liz Ogbu speak, it made me think about how being a designer is much more that just trying to design for one thing. Design is less about adding icing on a cake to make things pretty, but instead, it’s about solving problems and to help improve the lives of others. From watching this presentation, it has helped me see that design is more complex than I thought and what you design can have a great impact on a community. In order to make something good you must listen to people and put yourself in their environment to see for yourself what is needed.