Training recap

Design thinking with Portland Fire & Rescue

Over the past 136+ years, Portland Fire & Rescue’s primary mission has shifted from fighting fires to responding to public health and safety emergencies. This lower demand for fire response is due to advances in fire-resistant building materials, and an increased need for emergency responders. With their stations distributed evenly across the city, firefighters are well-positioned to rapidly respond to emergency calls, which are mainly comprised of medical emergencies.

In 2019 they partnered with The Social Impact Lab, which runs workshops with community members and organizations to solve problems using design thinking methods. I’m a volunteer facilitator for the Social Impact Lab, but this season I decided to participate in the workshop to help with the project and get a better sense of the participant experience.

In this article, I’ll talk about how we used an approach based on design thinking methods to help Portland Fire & Rescue explore ways they might respond to their changing mission. 


Empathy workshops for non-designers

In 2018 I collaborated with Verne Lindner on a workshop and subsequent article about how to use design thinking and universal design concepts to build empathy. Here’s an excerpt:

Empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of another, is an indispensable tool for user experience designers. We design better solutions when we understand the human environment of the user while they are using our product: are they relaxed, under stress, working with physical or cognitive impairments?

We’re not only better problem solvers when we’re empathetic, but, since empathy strengthens our active listening skills, using it makes us better researchers and collaborators.

Of course, empathy isn’t just a skill for designers: being able to quickly empathize with someone lets us start every conversation, whether problem-solving or negotiation, from a place of understanding, rather than judgement.

Read the rest on Medium


Find your design community

I’m a user experience designer, and I love it. I get to listen to people’s stories, then develop solutions that meet their goals. But my path could have been smoother — UX is a broad topic, and even though I was very excited about it, it was hard to know which aspect to focus on in the beginning. None of the books or articles I read was more helpful to my education than getting engaged with Portland’s design community. Going to meetups, asking for informational interviews, and spending time with peers and mentors in the industry helped me learn why user experience design was important to me, and how I should shape my future career.

Read the full article at AIGA Portland

Event recap

Turning passion projects into profit with Duane King

Duane King is a Portland-based consultant and creative director with a broad and varied career. He launched Herman Miller’s first websites, created packaging for Neiman Marcus and id Software, and designed innovative interactive websites at Nike. In 2011, Fast Company selected him as one of the 50 most influential designers in America (in collaboration with Ian Coyle) in part for his work on the Nike Better World campaign. This September, Duane spoke at AIGA’s Career Tools about how design helped him become a better entrepreneur, and how embarking on a personal project opened up new career opportunities.

Read the full article on AIGA Portland’s blog.

Event recap

Designing for happiness

I recap Pamela Pavliscak’s talk about the metrics that matter when measuring happiness at CHIFOO in 2016:

While it’s never easy to spend a summer evening in a windowless, air-conditioned room, the lecture series that the Computer Human Interaction Forum of Oregon (CHIFOO) organizes is well worth it. One recent speaker was Pamela Pavliscak, researcher and founder of Change Sciences. Pavliscak is developing a process for understanding what makes users of technology happy.

Read my full article on the Portland AIGA blog