Lydia Stewart (She/Her)
Innovation is about what’s next but not necessarily new – innovation born from tradition seeks the genesis of issues, asking the questions “why does this exist?” and “how can it bring value for a more equitable future?”
I am a generalist, eco-feminist, optimist and designer carving out a space for my intersectional practice. I strive to be thoughtful, curious, and immersive in my work, building holistic systems and meaningful relationships with people, places and ecologies. My practice is a balance of strategy and intuition cultivated over the last decade of experience in community development, service design, creative strategies, graphic design, art direction, product management, and team leadership.
Currently, my projects both professional and academic revolve around food security, community development, land management, and social equity. I believe design can play a role in a more regenerative, sustainable, and socially empowered future.
ReRooting Together is a master’s thesis project exploring regenerative land practices and material potential for collective futures, situated in the Scottish region of Moray.
Throughout this year I continued to wonder why some people engage in climate positive practices while others are afforded the privilege of ambivalence or disassociation? What can be done to foster greater social engagement within our individualist society? By leveraging the individual for collective strength, a bottom up approach to community development poses an interesting speculation: what does a future look like where collective action and mutual benefit bring people into cooperative co-existence?
This project looks to alternative economic models for community co-creation and equity investment. This project answers the question of “how?” by establishing a network for community action that creates a slow, citizen led and self actualizing community system that re-frames positive behavioural change in regards to land, material surplus, and resource allocation. By empowering people’s autonomous participation as interdependent contributions, framed through mutual benefit, we find infinite potential for human innovation.
Outcome: Service Model
The key facets of my research insights.
1. Providing a network of resources and opportunity
2. Facilitate funding for community led projects
3. Enhance the local system with new people and practices
The Green Pages is a digital network empowering people to connect in their local economic and creative area and directly invest in their communities for a sustainable, citizen and community led future.
The app prototype shown here is merely one facet of what the green pages can be. The essence of this network is that it acts as the conduit, facilitating collective action and regenerative practices with ease, while enhancing feelings of individual autonomy– thus finding a balance between the need for the collective and the individual. You help yourself while helping those around you!
It is a self sustaining and autonomous service, striking the right balance of nurturing the individual to easily participate, but with the strength of the collective to stabilize the system through mutual benefit.
Fostering Material Recirculation
Regenerative material potential was an important part of my inquiry and yet I could not reconcile it as a primary function in the service. I wanted to work with people’s practices and not enforce my own. However one facet of the Green Pages is it gives a formal space for people to take their waste and re-frame it as surplus and gain a financial kickback on it. The directory/database allows people to list their resources in a marketable way for purchase, which in turn retrains the psychological relationship we have to material waste. The new surplus is seen as a value asset that can be leveraged for purchase or utilization, making what you have work harder for you and yield greater results. This brings greater opportunity for material innovation as resources move more fluidly through the community and ideas can be generated by opportunity/accessibility and not by force.
The service is a catalyst for investing profits back into practice and fostering a more innovative producer driven market.
A great strength of this solution is its ability to scale per individual at an exponential rate. A classic yellow pages is a static printed book which takes years and time to update, relying on a single entity to be responsible. The Green Pages places the power into the hands of everyday people who can select their own parameters for their ’community’. With every individual setting their own economic radius, the potential for overlap and inter-area investment and development is enormous; all while remaining at a human scale that cares for the long term implications of change.
Self Actualized Empowerment
Change is hard when it is new and sudden, but once it passes we forget that the world was ever different. The slow build of self actualizing reform enabled through autonomous and citizen led systems is about building new habits for longterm-ism and regenerative futures.
Circular Fashion Box
The desire to accumulate wealth is instinctive to all animals regardless of species. We do this to signify dominance, desirability, and even self fulfillment. As humans we are not above this primal instinct and in fact have cultivated it into our very own cultural fabric. To distinguish ourselves from our consumption is now nearly impossible… but the evidence is undeniable that our consumer behaviours are having a truly detrimental effect on our climate and futures. With this project we look to leverage a reimagined service model that invokes long term behaviour change and new relationships with our consumer nature. People will continue to “shop” but can we make how they shop and what they buy more ethical and socially sustainable.
This project introduces a circular economics service model that makes encourages consumers to “wear the original” and trade in for “new pieces”. This keeps societies consumptive nature in consideration while moving to a more sustainable mindset and diminishing the idea of independent ownership and waste while retaining the desired usability, convenience and price of faster fashion models.
This was a collaborative project and was submitted for this year’s RSA Student Design Awards.
Empowering Patient-led Rehabilitation
A live project with a Scottish partner organization to re-evaluate the services provided for Neurological Rehabilitation at a local treatment facility. It became clear by speaking with patients, family members, and practitioners that patient recovery must be patient lead for long term success. But the question of how to empower patients while they undergo critical and vulnerable treatment was a delicate balance of empathy and aspiration. We identified user persona types based on our research and were able to roleplay the various barriers and motivations felt by our stakeholders. The final outcome was centered around empowering practitioners with better tools for earnestly engaging with patients and understanding the unique needs, wants, and desires of each individual; resulting in a bespoke and co-created treatment plan in which the patient feels in control of their progress and has full transparency of their experience within the healthcare system.