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Ready, Fire, Aim!

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Thumbnail image for verajitsingh.jpgBY BEN LAUER

A "ready, fire, aim!" approach, Virajita Singh explained during her Frontiers in the Environment presentation last Wednesday, is integral to sustainable design. By seeking improvements throughout the design process, aiming after firing produces a more precise result. Instead of leaving the loose ends of a project to serve as a lesson for the future, projects are treated as flexible, ongoing processes where design fixes previous missteps.


Singh refers to this innovative approach as "design thinking," and she uses it on a daily basis in the design thinking research, teaching and outreach initiative she leads for the College of Design and as a senior research fellow at University of Minnesota's Center for Sustainable Building Research working to help communities in the Upper Midwest region envision and implement sustainable goals. The Design for Community Resilience program, led by Singh, confronts civic challenges in order to benefit communities economically, environmentally and socially. In one example of many from the presentation, the DCR examined lowering energy consumption of the state's northernmost botanical greenhouse in Virginia, Minn. With the leadership of Singh and colleagues in the DCR, the community used a grant opportunity to open up the potential for utilizing geothermal energy.

From initial collaboration to final implementation, creativity and design are essential in turning communities toward sustainable alternatives. Noting the 200 documented uses of the paper clip noted at the end of her talk, Singh revealed that when it comes to making the right decisions, "creativity can solve almost any problem."

Watch Singh's talk on design thinking here - and make sure to check out upcoming Frontiers events.

Ben Lauer is a student at Macalester College in St. Paul and a communications intern with IonE. Photo by Molly Eagen.

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