TH Eco-Action: Bridging Cultures Through Design - RISD Design Students Go To Guatamala.

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The Rhode Island School of Design
has devised a particularly inspiring module for it's Wintersession this year. A six week course called Bridging Cultures Through Design aims to educate design students about skilled crafts in other cultures, in this case Guatamala, within the context of sustainability. The best thing about it is that the students are not just going to sit in Rhode Island and Google Guatamalan crafts in their studios, they are actually getting off their butts and going there! And luckily for us one of the students, Chelsea Green, is going to be posting 'live' from Guatamala over the next two weeks reporting on their progress. The brief is for 6 industrial designers and 3 textile designers from RISD to work in collaboration with Guatamalan artisans developing new products using traditional techniques. The idea is that these products can then be marketed abroad, bringing a sustainable income back into the community. Mimi Robinson, the project director, says "the goal is to support communities around Lake Atitlan, including: San Antonia Palopo and Santiago Atitlan with production designs that are economically sustainable, environmentally appropriate and socially responsible."The project should be beneficial for both students and artisans alike. While the RISD students are immersed in a new culture, learning about new skills, techniques and materials, the artisan's will be exposed to different methods of design, ones that might open up horizons and provide a profitable and sustainable future. We are particularly excited that both groups are focusing on sustainable design and it's environmental impact, as well as ethical business and marketing. The project has been sponsored by Aid To Artisans and Agexpront and in association with La Casa and La Casa de los Gigantes, two large exporters who are providing the artisan's costs and materials. We the RISD student team the best of luck and look forward to their first 'live' post from Lake Atitlan.