architecture · behavior · brain · community · design · disease · environment · health

A Better Way to Fight Obesity: New, Smarter Supermarkets | The Atlantic

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I heard an interview on the radio today with Rupal Sanghvi, the founder of HealthxDesign (“Healthy By Design”), an initiative she launched in 2010 after a decade of work with the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

During her years in the field, Sanghvi observed numerous instances in which people developing public health solutions overlooked contextual factors that were contributing to the problem. In clinics, for example, she saw how redesigning ventilation systems, retrofitting inefficient lighting, or choosing different building materials could improve
treatment conditions and accessibility, but these things were rarely addressed. Likewise, in supermarkets, features like store layout and air temperature can influence purchasing decisions, but food access initiatives often stop short of such nuances of structural design.

“Standard supermarkets are designed to promote consumption of foods that are high in sugar and preservatives,” explains Sanghvi, “because those are the high-margin items that maximize profit.” According to current guidelines, in an average 10,000-square-foot supermarket, only 500 square feet must be utilized for fresh produce. If the U.S. spends millions to build supermarkets according to the conventional mold, she argues, we may see some improvement in public health simply as a result of increased access to food, but we stand to achieve far better outcomes if we first reconsider supermarket design itself.

more via A Better Way to Fight Obesity: New, Smarter Supermarkets – Sarah Rich – Life – The Atlantic.

This is a great point being made about how our environment has a huge impact on our behavior, as well as corporate responsibility for health and wellness, and not just profits. This seems especially important for food stores, and I’m glad to see somebody taking up the cause.

Related:

Supermarket “Video Game” Designed to Help Shoppers Buy Healthier Food

community · Social

Building communities through online tools

It used to be considered sketchy to combine our online and offline worlds. With programs like Meetup and Foursquare, however, those days are long gone.

Lisa Gansky an author, instigator & entrepreneur, wrote a book about it, The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing. She also wrote an article for Boing Boing about 100k Garages “a Mesh-web-enabled sharing-platform that pairs people who want to make things (Makers) with digital fabrication tools (Fabbers).

“Many projects are small businesses that sell unique items. But 100k Garages, a team-up of ShopBot Tools and Ponoko, uses grass roots enterprise and ingenuity to help get us back in action — to modernize our public infrastructure, develop energy-saving alternatives, or simply produce great new products for our homes and businesses. There are already thousands of ShopBot CNC tools in garages and small shops across the country, ready to locally fabricate the components needed to address our energy and environmental challenges and to locally produce items needed to enhance daily living, work, and business.”

There are other non-business examples too; the sport Parkour spread internationally thanks to YouTube and online forums. People donated to the Haiti Earthquake relief fund in record numbers because they could do it via text message. People have Meetups and Tweet ups all the time. Foursquare is based entirely on allowing people know virtually where you are physically. However, security and safety are still a major concern, and some people still feel odd sharing these kinds of details online where anyone can access them, not just the community members they intended.

How do online communities translate into interactions in the real world and vice versa? What has your experience been with the navigation of having specific communities that exist both online and in-person? Does one seem more real than the other? Comment below.

play · Social

Innovation, Education, and Making stuff

I am so excited to share! My friends Janine and Willow were quoted as part of a workshop this past week about the Maker culture that has been growing dramatically over the past ten years and is really starting to bloom. My friends are part of the Jigsaw Renaissance, based in Seattle. The article appeared on the O’Reilly Radar article (excerpt below, with my friend’s quote in bold):

From a social perspective, vibrant communities are organizing around projects, technologies, and physical places. For example, one community called DIYDrones has developed a $500 unmanned aerial vehicle using open source chip sets and gyroscopes. Hacker Spaces and Maker Spaces are springing up around the country — like Jigsaw Renaissance in Seattle, which seeks to encourage:

Ideas. Unfiltered, unencumbered, and unapologetically enthusiastic ideas. Ideas that lead to grease-smeared hands, lavender sorbet, things that go bang, clouds of steam, those goggle-marks you see on crazy chemistry geeks, and some guy (or girl) in the background juggling and swinging from a trapeze … Walk through our door with an open mind, and you are liable to be whisked off your feet and into a project you’d never have thought up. We encourage communal learning, asking questions, and pushing that red button. Go on. Do it. If you stick around long enough, you’ll end up being the one creating projects and doing the 3-2-1 countdown for some new toy. Which is exactly what we hope will happen.

Technologically — we are moving towards what MIT‘s Neil Gershenfeld has called personal fabrication. Consider how Moore’s Law has enabled the transition from the expensive and remote mainframe to the personal computer to the smartphone that fits in your pocket to the Internet of things. We are seeing the same phenomena with the dramatic reduction in the cost of the tools needed to design, make and test just about anything — including $1,200 3D printers, CAD tools, machine tools, sensors, and actuators. Remember the replicator from Star Trek? It’s rapidly moving from science fiction to science fact. What will happen as we continue to democratize the tools needed to make physical objects that are smart, aware, networked, customized, functional, and beautiful? I have absolutely no clue — but I am confident that it will be awesome. As one maker put it, “The renaissance is here, and it brought ice cream.”

Economically — we are seeing the early beginnings of a powerful Maker innovation ecosystem. New products and services will allow individuals to not only Design it Yourself, but Make it Yourself and Sell it Yourself. For example, Tech Shops are providing access to 21st century machine tools, in the same way that Kinkos gave millions of small and home-based business access to copying, printing, and shipping, and the combination of cloud computing and Software as a Service is enabling “lean startups” that can explore a new idea for the cost of ramen noodles.

Makers are also becoming successful entrepreneurs. Dale just wrote a compelling story about Andrew Archer — the 22-year-old founder of Detroit-based Robotics Redefined. As a teenager, Andrew started off entering robotics competitions and making printed circuit boards on the kitchen table. He is now building customized robots that transport inventory on the factory floors of auto companies. With more entrepreneurs like Andrew — we could see a bottom-up renaissance of American manufacturing.

The article even goes on to talk about why the Obama Administration is behind DIY-ers and Makers. Exciting stuff! Read the whole article on O’Reilly Radar.

Mental · psychology

Design*Sponge best of: Offices

Grace Bonney at Design*Sponge is creating a design book, but as a business owner also appreciates the need for your own creative/productive space. Hence, two blog posts (and hopefully book sections) dedicated to creating spaces that are good for productivity and innovation:

…there are over 20 amazing offices in this final group, ranging from simple, minimalist desks to colorful offices that will wake you up with bright paint and hot pink piping. Visit here for Part One.

[image above: i love the matisse print above d*s editors (and horne owners) ryan and alissa’s beautiful home office in philadelphia]

[image above: i love all the green (and the cute paris print!) in julie murphy’s home (founder of jack and lulu)]

more at DesignSponge » Blog Archive » sneak peek best of: offices part two.