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11 Change-Making Designs That Inspire Action

Every year—for the past 14 years—Sappi has given the Ideas that Matter grant to designs that inspire action to change the world. Here are the 2013 winners.


Citizen Forester

Gwen O'Brien, Plenty - Grand Rapids, Michigan

Gwen O'Brien, creative director at Plenty—a Grand Rapids-based design firm—built a website allowing residents to identify, tag, and map local trees. Working for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, the project adds user-friendly legs in tracking and sustaining the city's tree canopy.



EducationSuperHighway White Paper

Naomi Usher, Studio Usher - New York City

100 Mbps. That's the minimal goal of EducationSuperHighway, a project aimed at upgrading and extending internet infrastructure running through America's K-12 public school system. The whitepaper will be a high-impact piece of visual collateral the group plans to take to the FCC, senators, members of Congress, and school boards to gather support.

Renter's Rights

Marc Moscato, Know Your City - Portland, Oregon

To make permissions and protections for tenants in Portland more understandable, Marc Moscato of Know Your City created 3,500 bilingual comic strips illustrating what is often lost in renter's right's handbooks and their walls of text. Winning the grant means the comics can be printed for wide-release.



Makeshift Institute: Education from the Fringe

Steven Daniels, Makeshift - Merrick, N.Y.

The publishers of Makeshift magazine are reinventing the textbook as an "instructional magazine" that's story-driven, visual, and engaging, while still academically rigorous. Each magazine will be curated, with an instructor's help, from Makeshift's own stories about uncovering creative solutions from the fringe.

Crowdfund Health

Tina Chang Walderman and Anne Jaconette, Nyaya Health - New York City

To get more health services into rural Nepal, Nyaya Health built a crowd-funded system to join public agencies in closing "the delivery gap in last mile communities."

The Green River Magazine

Sarah Baugh and Nicole Lavelle, Sincerely Interested - Green River, Utah

Believing "print can bring a town together," The Green River Magazine is a collaboration between ordinary townspeople looking for a place to entrust their stories. Led by Sarah Baugh and Nicole Lavelle, the magazine is seen as an evolved form of the Green River Newspaper, continuing the trend of "community-powered" publications.

Fresh Artists Storytelling Tools

Maribeth Kradel-Weitzel, Kradel Design and Philadelphia University - Philadelphia

Noticing the constant cutbacks in arts education, and the failure of top-down fundraising to offset those cuts, Fresh Artists proposed something else: a partnership between private donors, schools, and the K-12 artists themselves. The project takes money raised from student-created art to further supply art programs. The grant will help support the fundraising campaign.

Design for the Neighborhood Design Center

Mike Weikert, Ryan Clifford, and Mira Azarm, Center for Design Practice at MICA - Baltimore

With a pool of volunteer architects and design students, the Neighborhood Design Center, in partnership with the Center for Design Practice at Maryland Institute College of Art, is purposed with creating community master plans, retooling abandoned buildings, and building upon hundreds of community initiatives in Baltimore to improve neighborhoods.

Zoning Toolkit Guidebook and Game Board

Jeff Lai and Andrew Sloate, The Center for Urban Pedagogy - Brooklyn

New York City is a maze of zoning restrictions. To get around them, Jeff Lai and Andrew Sloat designed a guidebook and game board for residents to familiarize themselves with complex civic policy.

Draw it Out Classroom Kit & Grief Outreach

Steffanie Lorign and Jana Nishi Yuen, Art with Heart - Seattle

Refined with input from 27 experts from a wide-range of child-related grief and therapy fields, Draw it Out is an experimental book that aids children in working through traumas–such as divorce, violence, or death–by engaging them, asking questions they may be to afraid to ask and helping them identify their support systems.

City of Refuge - 180º Kitchen Catering

Vicky Jones, Brand Fever - Atlanta

A cafeteria, caterer, and culinary school, 180º Kitchen Catering focuses on nutrition and vocation for the residents of Atlanta. "Here we teach vital jobs and social skills that help transform those once in despair and crisis into citizens who can lead lives of sustainable independence."

Images courtesy of Sappi

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