So I saw this video lying around in my Facebook newsfeed, and decided to watch it.
“When we choose between options that are on a par, we can do something really rather remarkable. We can put our very selves behind an option. Here’s where I stand. Here’s who I am. I am for banking. I am for chocolate donuts. This response in hard choices is a rational response, but it’s not dictated by reasons given to us. Rather, it’s supported by reasons created by us. When we create reasons for ourselves to become this kind of person rather than that, we wholeheartedly become the people that we are. You might say that we become the authors of our own lives.”
– Ruth Chang,“How to Make Hard Choices”, TED, May 2014, New York
This makes me remember Theology class and the fundamental option theory. Only I don’t want fundamental option in the Catholic definition of it about sin, but in a more philosophical view: that one action (sin) does not equate me being a good person or a bad person, but the sum total of all my actions. And these actions are all guided by the fundamental direction I have chosen, to become good or bad.
This also makes me think of statistics and graphs: where all dots in a graph would probably be going in more or less the same chosen trend, and the few outliers out there, are just that, outliers that do not change the trend of the graph.
And this makes me reflect on what I’m doing right now, introducing myself as a UX designer, and fundamentally choosing to be one. This makes me start doing a lot of different things — like attending events, talks, conferences, or meeting people interested in it, or doing small projects to deepen my knowledge of it — that leads me into actually becoming a UX designer. (Or I can be philosophical and say, am I not already one right now?)
This past month made me realise that having a vision of what I want to be is very powerful.
For one, I was able to get rid of my almost quarter-life crisis of not being good enough to become anything.
Second, I have now put myself in a box that limits the choices I can make. And that’s good because knowing I can be anything I want severely paralysed me from finding out the one thing I want to become. If that makes sense. (This again makes me think of Theo131, freedom and commitment.)
Third, this box has made me become creative. I have become more attuned to the opportunities I can take to become what I want to be and think up strategies to get there.
Fourth, I’m optimistic. I feel that everything is now setup for success and I just have to take the steps to get there.
Fifth, I’m happy.
I’m so happy I’m teary right now.
This makes me go back to this post I wrote after the last day of school: A Closure, A Commencement: Reflecting On Four Years of Life. At that time I was a drifter, not knowing what I want to be, but just promising myself to become a being-towards-perfection. I think my 2012 self would be proud of what I am now, actualising.
It’s almost the end of 2014, so today I promise myself something: to never get lost again, to always have a goal I can aim small wins at, and to look back to this post whenever I feel burned.
In the Philippines, as in many developing countries, slums are a big part of major urban areas. More often than not they receive less love from local governments and lesser love from residents. The quality of life is bad, crime rates are high and security is a major issue. But as they make up a large part of the voting public, they’re here to stay. So the question now is, how might we elevate the quality of life in these communities?
One solution is using art to improve living conditions. Here are examples from other countries:
In Taichung, Taiwan, an area slated for redevelopment has avoided demolition. Dubbed as the Rainbow Village, the childlike art enveloping rows of houses is the work of 90 year old Rainbow Grandpa who started painting to protest. Once word got out that there was a quirky village somewhere, people started pouring in. Soon, popular opposition caused the government to halts its plans and the village completes its transformation to a favourite tourist spot.
Went to La Luz Beach at San Juan, Batangas yesterday.
Here are some thoughts:
There are some plastic sachets and packaging material floating around the beach. It’s either Filipinos still lack environmental awareness or any human activity near the coastline should be considered hazardous to nature.
Its annoying to see trash in the beach. Matthew and I spent a few minutes picking up plastic what-nots floating around. Despite La Luz having a no-plastic policy, stuff still find their way into the great blue ocean.
Majority of the beaches are privately owned. Good money is needed to access well-maintained beaches.
Its sad to see the original inhabitants of the land get displaced by landowners. Its also saddening that they can’t enjoy the sea. I would sort of understand this if it meant environmental protection (thinking of the Pasig River and the slew of riverside settlements).
Some beaches should be turned into national parks, maintained by the government, and enjoyed by the public.
People living in the settlements are more in touch with the city than the people living in enclosed walls. What does it mean to be a citizen of San Juan? How do you embrace being a citizen of San Juan?
San Juan day is one of those days that the urban poor celebrate fiercely and with much enthusiasm. Running around the streets, dousing people with water and getting showered yourself in return is a mark of of celebrating your city. This activity, among others like the Sta Elena Fiesta, forges a stronger sense of belonging.
When I pass by neighbourhoods I’ve always remarked at how there are no government-built infrastructures that elevates quality of life for its citizens: public sports centres, public markets, community centre and city sponsored events.
But these things do exist, in a hodgepodge incarnation of what the community has built for itself. The busiest street intersections evolve into a market area, spacious roads with little traffic become defacto basketball courts, abandoned trailers become barangay halls that double as day cares and sometime funeral parlours, and what little open space remain in the cities become entertainment grounds when city hall decides to hold events. This is the barangay community and it has structured itself to become liveable in their own terms, and in them I see the city as a living thing, constantly growing, evolving.
Examine the city on a macro scale though, and the community have less and less of a role in the city’s growth.
City Hall has washed its hand of being its own quality of life director and handed over these rights to the mall system.The mall mandate is to develop properties into mix-use facilities that elevate art and culture, sports and entertainment, essentially anything that makes city life vibrant. This would have been okay in theory, but it has become not just a one-stop solution, but the one and only solution.
This post is about my insights on Class One of the Human Centred Design for Social Innovation class I’m currently taking by IDEO and +Acumen.
The mini design thinking challenge for this class is about “Designing a Better Commute.”
To summarise, here are my key takeaways for Class 1:
Dropping All Assumptions To Truly Ideate
The four of us in the group, Sam, Felix, JB and me, are all motorists from Metro Manila. Recently traffic in the Metro has turned from bad to worse due to road projects happening simultaneously all over the city. This, coupled with a poor public transportation system, inefficient road planning, and accidents happening due to regulators’ negligence, have inspired a slew of articles from thought leaders on what needs to be changed. This is the perspective by which we as individuals are approaching the challenge.
It was hard to separate from this mind set. Majority of the questions asked by the group looked at the problem from a big picture standpoint. The focus was to move the situation from its current version to an ideal version. This was bad because the solutions we came up with were not within our capability to execute. In retrospect, we could have worked with the real situation, and identified pain points the interviewee’s/motorists encountered daily aside from the traffic and address them.
One way we can mitigate having only one viewpoint in this situation is to interview again, and interview more people, and iterate on the interview questions, especially if there were only two people in the group. Of course, this could be offset by having group members with differing backgrounds asking different questions. But since this was a practice session within our group, this limitation is expected to occur.
Listening and Remaining Silent
On my part, because this is a topic where everyone can be considered experts in the field (everyone drove a car, the group also unanimously agreed that the solution we are aiming for cater to people who drive), I found it challenging not to add personal insights and experiences while interviewing Sam.
I was able to hold back in colouring the interview with my opinions, but when we were sharing prototypes and Sam was explaining how she came up with her prototype, I was not able to hold back in cutting through her explanation and adding on top of what she said.
There are two ways to look at it: it was bad because I pushed my agenda ahead the person speaking, but it was also good in that context because that’s how I arrived at my Aha moment.
Balancing Interview and Casual Conversations Leads to Insights
Having to follow the guide did not necessitate free-flowing dialogue. Working within the guidelines, the group’s atmosphere was professional. Although everyone tried to be helpful and offer a lot of ideas, it was hard not to feel a bit awkward talking about something as trivial as a daily commute in a very detailed manner. When we moved to having fun and joking around, and having a dialogue, a lot of the things that were omitted because it was too trivial came out. That also led to many insights.
One point to ponder is do we have to strictly follow the process? Or maybe we can follow it but always leave some time for deviation and just relaxed off-the-record sharing. After going through the second reading, the awkwardness probably also stemmed out from the interviewers not warming the interviewees enough.
If you’re wondering, my Aha moment insight is: for people who are in a hurry, and eat food in the car, they need a way to keep food in place when two hands are needed on the wheel. Below is a rough drawing of the idea I came up with: a food holder clamped to the steering wheel.
For anyone who wishes to take the class too, here are the links: