We live in a data-rich world. But to drive lasting social change, data must be transformed and communicated to influencers and decision-makers in compelling, new ways. In a daylong conference, Ford Foundation brings together leaders in design, social innovation, art and journalism to think creatively about digital storytelling and cutting-edge tools to visualize, map and create narratives that inspire action.


Darren Walker, vice president of Education, Creativity and Free Expression, welcomes participants to Change By Design.  Scroll down for more videos from the day.


About the Event

Session One - New Voices of Change: How Data Visualizations Are Transforming Memory, History, Identity and Community

How do we make meaning of loss, history and globally shared experiences? How can the voices of all citizens be lifted to create new narratives that truly reflect the needs and aspirations of our communities? With both courage and eloquence, Jake Barton has tackled these and other questions in his award-winning work for the 9/11 Museum and Change By Us. Barton talks about how new channels of shared story-making can help shape both our collective memories and our hopes for the future.

Jake Barton is founder and principal of Local Projects, an award-winning media design firm for museums and public spaces. He is recognized as a leader in the field of interaction design for physical spaces, and in the creation of collaborative storytelling projects where participants generate content. Local Projects was a finalist in the Interaction Design category of the 2011 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards.


Session Two - All the News That’s Fit to Click: Covering Complex Issues Through Data

Members of the media have long served as societies’ filters—separating out what the public needs to know from the vast stores of information available. In today’s data-rich world, how are media outlets leveraging new design technologies to tell complex and balanced stories? How are they working with interactive tools to engage audiences in what is now a participatory news cycle? And how are they adapting their editing skills to work as well with ones and zeros as they work with words? Two New York Times data practitioners tell all.

Amanda Cox is a graphics editor at The New York Times, where she creates charts and maps for the print and Web versions of the paper. Before joining the Times in 2005, she received a master’s degree in statistics. With a focus on data visualization and a fondness for slightly conceptual pieces, her work with colleagues has won several awards, including top honors at Malofiej, the largest international infographics contest.

Jer Thorp is a generative software artist and educator from Vancouver, Canada, currently living in New York. A former geneticist, his work uses custom-written computer programs to explore the boundaries between science, mathematics and art. Thorp is data artist-in-residence at The New York Times and the first artist-in-residence at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. His award-winning, software-based work has been exhibited internationally.


Session Three - Collaborative Mapping: The Art of Inclusion

How can data visualizations help us rethink our criminal justice system, reassess what we mean by affordable housing and re-imagine our urban spaces as just cities—built upon fairness, opportunity and shared prosperity? How can inclusive design jumpstart critical conversation, inspire local action and lead to wider, more lasting results? Three transformative thinkers show us what happens when data moves from our desktops into the communities we serve.

Laura Kurgan is co-director of the Spatial Information Design Lab in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Her work ranges from investigations of the ethics and politics of geography and mapping, to the visualization of urban and global data using digital technologies. Recent projects include a collaborative exhibition on global migration and climate change, and “Million Dollar Blocks,” which explores the cost of American incarceration.

Leah Meisterlin is an architecture and urbanism researcher and designer, geographic information systems specialist and cartographer. In 2008, she cofounded the interdisciplinary architecture research and design firm PRE-Office. She has studied questions surrounding American housing as an associate research scholar at Columbia University's Temple Hoyne Buell Center, and is currently a cartographer and GIS specialist at Urbanscale and a sociospatial researcher at New York University's Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health. Her work is primarily focused on concurrent issues of spatial justice, informational ethics and the effects of infrastructural networks on the construction of social and political space.

Rosten Woo makes work that helps people understand complex systems and participate in group decision-making. His work has been exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial, the New Museum, the Venice Architecture Biennale, Netherlands Architectural Institute, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, on the Internet and in various public housing developments, tugboats, shopping malls and parks in New York City and Los Angeles. His first book, “Street Value,” was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2010. Woo is co-founder and former executive director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP).


Session Four - New Tools for Transformation: The Power of Open Platforms

Today, thanks to an increase in freely available open tools, people with little technical ability can create highly effective, beautiful visualizations. Open tools allow innovations created by one person to be adapted into completely separate projects, enabling communities and individuals from across the globe to benefit. How are these open systems transforming the future of data visualization? Where is creativity being unleashed, and what can social justice advocates learn from these strategies?

Zach Lieberman is one of the co-founders of openFrameworks, a C++ library for creative coding. His work uses technology in a playful way, to break down the fragile boundary between the visible and the invisible. Most recently he’s been immersed in the EyeWriter project, a low-cost, open source hardware and software toolkit that helps people draw with their eyes. EyeWriter has won numerous international awards and was named one of the 50 best inventions of 2010 by Time Magazine.


Lunchtime Session - Data Dating: Matching up Data Science and Social Change

What happens when you set up a social changemaker with a data scientist? How does having a data component shape social change objectives and outcomes? When it is built into a social change strategy from the start, how can data visualization help communicate results? And how do changemakers know when they’ve found their true data connection? Jake Porway, data scientist and nonprofit matchmaker, tells us what makes for a successful marriage.

Jake Porway is the founder of DataKind, which seeks to match nonprofits in need of data analysis with freelance and pro bono data scientists who can work to help them with data collection, analysis, visualization or decision support. Previously, Porway worked as a data scientist in research and development at The New York Times, exploring the relationships between social media and the process of creating and sharing news, as well as developing interfaces for interaction with new devices. He was also a research scientist at UtopiaCompression, where he handled high-dimensional data visualization and abstraction.


Afternoon Sessions

The afternoon will consist of breakout sessions where attendees will have the opportunity to interact in a more intimate setting with the speaker of their choosing.

More from this Event