John Bielenberg Gives Designers 48 Hours to Change the World (Video)

John Bielenberg has a mission: Change The World. And there is one method that keeps that lofty goal from being mission impossible. Bielenberg formed Project M - a design program that challenges participants to quickly and with little or no resources effectively tackle one small goal and implement change through design. It's a test of pure energy and creativity, and it's incredibly successful. Check out videos of the actions Project M has inspired. Project M's purpose is to inspire designers, film makers and artists to use their talent and creativity for the greater good of the world.

Bielenberg notices that there has been a shift over 7-8 years in design industry where young peole are starting to get more interested in working on design that matters. Project M aims to help them do just that. We have hit some serious issues that seem insurmountable - climate change, species loss, the water crisis, sustainable energy. He feels that by grabbing a small, accomplishable goal, an "M'er" can enact change for global good while avoiding burn-out and disappointment.

One aspect of Project M is Project M blitzes - or extrodinarily short workshops where those involved have just 48 hours to think up, create and implement a project that makes a positive change. Bielenberg just returned from Iceland where a blitz took place. Here are a few of the projects completed at the amazing workshop.


In January the number of unemployed people in Iceland was 12.793, about 8% of the population, and it is rising fast. To demonstrate the huge number of unemployed people in Iceland and bring attention to the problem, the group put 12.793 kronas on the pavement in front of The Central Bank of Iceland, with each krona representing an unemployed person.


Playing with the double meaning of the word "ÓRÓI which means disturbance and wind chime/mobile in Icelandic. The meaning characterizes the political and economic situation in Iceland. Often people feel calmness in caos.


A prototype for an unsupervised exchange market built on trust. Anyone can take a bag, which can contain any sort of product, as long as they promise to replace it with a product that they´ve stopped using.

John Bielenberg will be at Compostmodern 2009, happening this Saturday in San Francisco, where he will inspire sustainably-minded designers to "Think Wrong." In other words, forget what they know and create a whole new sustainable world for us to live in.

More on Sustainable Design
Compostmodern Setting the Sustainable Tone for Design Industry
Video: Janine Benyus with 12 Sustainable Design Concepts Using Biomimicry
Herman Miller's Approach to Sustainable Design
10 Commandments of (Sustainable) Design

Tags: Activism | Designers | One Planet Living