I love design and so, with its bright cover and interesting back cover write-up, I picked up “Design and Solidarity” by Rafi Segal and Marisa Moran Jahn. I don’t know what exactly I expected but it is so much better than that! It isn’t a quick read, made up of several interviews and topic-specific essays, this is one to savour and spend time thinking through the broader implications and how design weaves through all our lives.

“Art and storytelling help to reach into our heart space, shift these deeply seeded narratives, and create new possibilities and new protagonists.”

Gleaning insights from visionaries and leaders around the world, the book shares new and interesting ways design can engage with us and improve communities. I particularly appreciated the stories and voices which weren’t focused on first-world, wealthy spaces. Architecture and art are covered as well.

“If one person is unhealthy and at risk, then the rest of us are also all the more vulnerable. When we provide adequate care, our well-being and safety as a whole are ensured. Access to child care was essential for working women. When the pandemic took that away, it forced millions of women, especially women of color, to leave the workforce, and now we’re at 1988 levels of women’s workforce participation. This is a perfect example of how care is commons. Care is essential to the public good.”

The thread running through is solidarity, how we can collaborate, address inequality and improve the collective well-being. It is inspiring and challenging and I will be returning to this one many times in the future. It is a five out of five on the enJOYment scale and highly recommended.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Columbia University Press through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review is completely my own.

From the back cover:

In times of crisis, mutual aid becomes paramount. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, new forms of sharing had gained momentum to redress precarity and stark economic inequality. Today, a diverse array of mutualistic organizations seek to fundamentally restructure housing, care, labor, food, and more. Yet design, art, and architecture play a key role in shaping these initiatives, fulfilling their promise of solidarity, and ensuring that these values endure.

In this book, artist Marisa Morán Jahn and architect Rafi Segal converse about the transformative potential of mutualism and design with leading thinkers and practitioners: Mercedes Bidart, Arturo Escobar, Michael Hardt, Greg Lindsay, Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Ai-jen Poo, and Trebor Scholz. Together, they consider how design inspires, invigorates, and sustains contemporary forms of mutualism—including platform cooperatives, digital-first communities, emerging currencies, mutual aid, care networks, social-change movements, and more. From these dialogues emerge powerful visions of futures guided by communal self-determination and collective well-being.

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