About Me

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Currently the Director of Operations for Design for America (DFA) and a lecturer at the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University, I am a San Francisco native and passionate about the intersection of design education and local/social impact. My studio, students' projects, and DFA have been discussed in publications and blogs such as Fast Company, Chicago Tribune, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Core77 and more. I have been fortunate enough to have spoken and given workshops at TEDx, the NE IDSA Conference, Better Word by Design Conferences, Fulbright Seminar, and given workshops at college campuses across the country. I earned my BFA in industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design where I received RISD’s Community Service Award and the Rachel Carson Award upon graduation. I am currently working on a masters in learning and organizational change at Northwestern University. At the start, I founded and taught the advanced studio, Design for Social Entrepreneurship at RISD, Design Futures at Pratt and worked with nonprofits such as Design that Matters and GreenBlue.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Why Obama?


A friend recently asked me in an email, "Why Obama over Hillary, I can't really tell the difference." This was my response:

95% of their policies are the same. Honestly this election really is not about policy, which is why there is so much back and forth. Regardless of what their policies are, they still have to get it through the congress, which is a feat unto itself. So you have to ask yourself, who are people going to respect more? Who's going to bring this country together more?

Hillary, is extremely intelligent and capable, but with all her "experience", this experience is politics as usual, doing the same thing. Not real "change."

I saw Obama live, 20 ft away from him, the way he talks, the way he carries himself, what he chooses to place emphasis on is extremely powerful. Watch the closing statements from the last debate in Cleveland. It's very clear that Hillary is weighed down with all the problems of the day, and has ideas on pragmatic approaches. But Obama takes a step back from all this, looks at the larger picture, and sees the importance to first and foremost to bring this country together, as this will enable us to be so much more prepared to tackle these problems together, not by any individual.

My sentiments are that if Hillary is president, people will again be disinterested in politics, Hillary will just go off and do her thing. Obama on the other hand will engage the entire public, bring them together in a dialogue and encourage action from everyone. You see this already with the enthusiasm and numbers coming out for Obama. The energy at these rallies are very different. Obama has already begun this with helping to create , "Google for Government" which creates an open window into the inside of politics to the everyday people. He knows how to reach people and build community. He's grassroots. He puts the power in the hands of the people, and for OUR generation. His finger is on the pulse. I recommend watching the "Obama's Web magic" video on CNN.

To me, Obama is the web 2.0 candidate, where as Clinton is more like an internet explorer beta version.

-imassami

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Things to Do to Stay Stimulated Post-College

  1. Read books for pleasure
  2. Listen to books on tape (or cd or ipod) for pleasure
  3. Get into politics
  4. Watch educational videos on CNN, YouTube, and TED talks
  5. Start a collaborative business with like minded friends
  6. Think about going to grad-school
  7. Pick up old hobbies
  8. Join a non hardcore sports team
  9. Start a new romantic relationship
  10. Appreciate more an existing romantic relationship
  11. Decorate your apartment
  12. Go for walks and call family and friends while doing so
  13. Throw a dance party
  14. Start a blog
  15. ...

Friday, March 7, 2008

"Educated" Voters

In response to the controversial theory about more "educated" voters, supporting Obama, I realized that was unjust of me not to provide statistical support for this claim. My statement therefore came off as hubris, and unfounded. I apologize for this.

Below is evidence supporting my claim.

Looking at the regions voting on March 4th:

TEXAS
OHIO
RHODE ISLAND
VERMONT

In watching the CNN exit poll analysis throughout this race, I did gain insight into this matter with previous contests, which was the foundation for my statement. However, further research does indeed support the claim. The two determining states of Ohio and Texas do correspond with my hypothesis that more educated voters vote for Obama. However, in our state of Rhode Island this does not seem to be true, where the educated voters continue to vote for Clinton. So, were these three states just an exception? Let's look at the numbers:
Click image to see larger view.
Click image to see larger view.
I gathered all the exit poll information from every state that has voted, with available data in regards to education, and created a table for comparison. As we can see, on average, among College graduates that voted, 14.3% more voted for Obama than Hillary. Among those with a post graduate education, 14.1% more voted for Obama than Hillary, and within this neck and neck candidate race, this is a note worthy difference.

Now, to be fair, this difference may not be due to intelligence, but rather the fact that Obama may not relate to the lower to middle class as well as Hillary. (Level of education is often equated with class, so I draw this link here for comparison and discussion). Why do we think this is the case?

I am open to suggestions, even audacious ones.

Here are some of mine:

1. People remember the good 'ol days with Bill Clinton, where the economy was relatively good, so they go with Clinton. Name recognition is found to be an important factor in voter decision.

2. People are intimidated by a black man more educated than them. (there I said it)



Thursday, March 6, 2008

DIY Home Improvements

In moving to Boston, I found a great crappy shared apartment, right near Coolidge Corner. When I came to visit the place, the paint was literally falling off the wall, and needless to say it needed a lot of help, but for the low low rent, it was worth the challenge. In the past few months I have been working to make small improvements, while spending as little as possible. The goal was to just to make the space livable, not extraordinary. Below are some of the results, while it is of course still a work in progress.


Fabric for Curtains: $20
Fabric for Table Cover: $7
Paint: $25

Paint: $0 (used remaining from Kitchen)
Shower Curtain: $0 (Jeannette, my house-mate, already had one)

Paint: $30
Wall Hanging: $90 (which my house-mate K, graciously picked out and bought)

Sofa: $150 (this was a huge purchase from me. I got it off of craigslist and talked the owner down from $200)
Coffee Table: $0 (It was an old desk my house-mates were going to throw out. I took out the slats and cut down the legs to make a coffee table.)
Center Piece: $0 (The green center piece was hand-made by a family friend that was passed down to me, and the fabric below it was made by my best friend)
Lamp: $0 (The office down the hall from me was moving out and getting rid of a bunch of stuff including that lamp and plant!)
Plant: $0 (Ibid)
Rug: $0 (Left over from old house-mate)

Ikea Table: $80 (for such a small space, this rolling table is a great way of getting more surface space to put your stuff down, and is also the table I use to host my laptop while sitting in bed)
Built in Shelf: $7
Lamp: $0 Home made (freshman year in college, made out of wood and paper pulp)

Shelves: $50 (the wall was already painted. I feel so-so about the color. The only thing I added were shelves for more organization, and I also got rid of my printer which was taking up a lot of space.)

Grand Total: $359

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Obama vs. Hillary: March 4 Primaries

Okay, so the race is not over yet, but it sure is neck and neck. I was greatly saddened this morning when I checked CNN for the most up to date results, and came to find out that Clinton and made several victories last night. However, the race is not over! The only trouble is that it may stunt Obama's momentum. Everyone said that Hillary HAD to win Texas and Ohio to still be in the race, and she has done this, but Obama still leads with 100 delegates. So can we regain momentum...? YES WE CAN!

The results from last night are:

Ohio-- Clinton: 54% Obama 44%
RI---- Clinton: 58% Obama 40%
Texas Primaries-- Clinton: 51% Obama 48%
Texas Caucus----- Clinton: 44% Obama 58% (and still counting)

Current Delegate Count:

Clinton: 1,424
Obama: 1,520

Theories on why Clinton gained some momentum:

1. America loves the underdog regardless, so they voted for Hillary.

2. People love drama and didn't want the race to be over.

3. People felt sorry for Hillary (the press has really amped its coverage on how Hillary is so stoic and not giving up, though her campaign is really reflecting to see where they made faults, yada yada)

4. Last minute appearances on SNL and John Stewart upped Clinton's game.

5. People are questioning their "hope" (there have also been many articles lately questioning Obama's ability, such as Time Magazine's article on "Obama the Phenomenon vs. Obama the President) As the dust settles from the wave of momentum from Obama, people ask themselves, as if woken from a dream, "Is this really happening?"

6. Educated Democrats vote for Obama, and there are less educated Democrats in the regions voting last night. (I know that's harsh, but let's look at the facts people) The picture below depicts how regions voted. And notice that mostly all the large cities, where "educated" people tend to congregate, all voted for Obama, where as everyone else voted for Clinton. I'm not making this stuff up. You can see this and other statistics on CNN.


7. Conspiracy Theory: Republicans voted for Hillary to divide the race, and make a stronger case for McCain. (seriously they do that. Read here)

8. People thought Bill was running again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

B of A Expense Tracking

Just wanted to share this with fellow budgeting nerds. I just discovered that Bank of America tracks how you spend your money when using their cards. They have multiple tracking categories including: dining, groceries, rent, shopping, etc, which automatically get categorized with every purchase, and can be customized when it doesn't know what type of purchase has been made.

This is great for me, because I have been keeping track of my expenses on an excel spreadsheet, and had recently fallen behind, and this discovery came just in time before spending hours updating my budget. Thank you B of A (I'm quite sure other banks do it too)!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

What I want to be When I Grow Up

In getting ready for bed tonight, I came up with the job title that I would like to have some day. And it is...

Sustainable Systems Strategist

There is a big shift going on right now among IDers from designing products to systems and services, which is good. But I see designers and students still designing useless products that they happen to put in a system. Designers must think systemically, as well as sustainably to have a true positive impact in our world today. More of my thoughts on the factors included in sustainable systems can be read here.