Wow! I’m pretty blown away by the response so far to us going semi-public with Renters United. So far we have around 130 people saying they’ll come along to the launch event which is amazing, especially when for most all they know about us is one sentence we put together for the holding page:
We want: To organise renters and campaign to make renting better for everyone in Wellington.
Launch day is 8 April and between now and then there is a lot to organise. At the moment I am busy making the holding page into an actually website. Initially it’ll do two things:
- Tell people more about us.
- Let people join.
Also on the design front we are planning to produce a bunch of recruitment posters so those who are keen can start spreading the word in their flats, workplaces and property managers offices.
Keep an eye here for more work-in-progress on the website and the posters.
After a couple of months on the back burner this renters thing is now getting ready to launch.
In November I posted about what we should call our new organisation and after much deliberation we decided on Renters United.
It was a close run thing, I personally preferred United Renters but the veto was enacted on the grounds that it sounded a little like the name of a political party that no-one wants to sound like.
Once we had a name we could get busy working out a logo, and with a friendly graphic designers help this is what we ended up with (click to enbiggen):
I’m pretty happy with this. It has a building/construction/housing feel without putting a roof on it and a activist and grassroots dimension to it as well.
I’ll be putting together a website for Renters United over the next few weeks (hopefully in time for the launch) but in the mean time we made a little holding page that goes a bit further one fleshing out the visual style we might end up with for the organisation. This is what rentersunited.org.nz looks like at the moment:
Feedback very welcome.
To most people “design” is analogous to “making things pretty” but good design is really about finding elegant solutions to complex problems. It then follows that if design solves problems then it can do good and – equally – when practiced badly it can do harm.
This is the central argument in Mike Monteiro’s talk from Webstock last year. If you’re a designer, work on things that involve design, or are interested in how professional ethics get bashed out in a new field find the 48 minutes to watch:
We are mired in a design culture that eight doesn’t understand its responsibility to the world we live in. Or worse, it doesn’t care.
— Mike Monteiro in How Designers Destroyed the World.
He makes a very strong case that designers need to take far greater responsibility for “what they put into the world”. In particular it’s just not good enough to say “fuck it” when the going gets tough.
Towards the end of the talk Monteiro makes explicit the political issues that inform his personal and professional ethics. They are far from radical in and of themselves but they did make me wonder: can digital design have any political imperative in the 21st century? Does it have a conscience?
The 19th and 20th centuries are marked by art, design and architectural movements that sought to harness and direct their practice for the good of humanity.
Is digital design in the 21st century similarly capable of acting for real change or has “changing the world” now just be relegated to another meaningless platitude wedged into Silicon Valley mission statements?