I’ve been talking about centerpieces for the past two days.  Earlier this week, I had the great honor to attend a fund/awareness-raising breakfast for the “Design for the Other 90%” exhibit.  The event took place at Denver’s extraordinary Red Line Gallery, a self-proclaimed diverse urban laboratory where art, education, and community converge.  This manifesto was evident in every corner of the inspiring space, right down to the centerpieces on the breakfast tables.  One centerpiece was a circular ceramic planter filled with scrumptious greens grown by Circle Fresh Farms, a young company that serves to empower small farmers and celebrate community-grown food with the use of water conservation innovations such as drip irrigation.

The second centerpiece was a “junk mail” brick made by Denver-based artist Viviane Le Courtois.  She has collected and shredded her junk mail for the past 3 years, and, using glue and water fuses it to create bricks that she will use to build a basic structure that will be featured at the exhibit.

These centerpieces served to be physical representations of the spirit of the exhibit.  Design for the Other 90%, a Smithsonian exhibit, showcases a growing movement among engineers, social entrepreneurs, and designers to create low-cost, sustainable solutions to global issues such as housing, water, transportation, food, healthcare, and education.  During the summer of 2011, bamboo treadle pumps, irrigation drip systems, solar light bulbs, Q-drums, Global Village Shelters, Life Straws and more will transform Red Line’s space in order to provide insight upon how each of us might in turn transform the world.   This exhibit will serve to demonstrate how design can be a dynamic force in changing lives around the globe and in our own backyards.

International Development Enterprises (iDE), based in Lakewood, CO, is the co-presenter of the event.  For nearly 30 years, iDE has been a leader in social enterprise, focusing on combining the forces of innovation with market based approaches to transform the lives of over 19 millions farmers in the Global South who are no longer living in poverty.   iDE’s approach is closely aligned with Red Line’s vision “to foster forms of social practice in the arts that inspire inquiry and catalyze change.” Inspire inquiry and catalyze change.Surely the Design for the Other 90% exhibit coming to Denver on July 8, 2011 will do just that for us here on the Front Range!

Katie Doyle Myers has been Philanthropiece’s Director of Programs since 2008. She supports in the design, implementation, evaluation, and improvement of the Foundation’s initiatives in Latin America and here at home in Boulder.  Katie is inspired by the innovators, dreamers, and doers that she has had the honor and privilege of meeting at home and across the globe.  Other sombreros that Katie wears are: mother of Finn, partner of Bryan, aunt of a bevy of dazzling nieces,  founder of 100 Book Day, enthusiast of Global Works, and Board member of Global Grassroots.