During our 2011 event, one team was assigned to work with StreetWise, a publication produced and sold by the homeless in Chicago. The team wanted more copies of the magazine to put together their presentation. The organization’s executive director, Jim LoBianco, said he knew where he could get some — within ten minutes he found a vendor, L. Not the type of people to neglect an opportunity, the team gathered in the lobby of the Adler School to meet him.
L. told the group about the significant difference StreetWise had made in his life. “If it weren’t for StreetWise,” he said, “I might not be here to talk to you today.”
Several group members asked L. about the experience of a typical day — how many papers does he sell, what determines how many he can move? They also asked what kind of tools would help him move more product. “Location helps, advertising helps,” L. said. “Anything that will bering attention to the vendor will help. Because some of them are afraid to say good morning.”
L. also drew attention to factors of the StreetWise experience the team couldn’t access otherwise. For example, when the team asked if he would be comfortable selling other types of products, he brought up this point: “I need something no one’s going to steal!”
Meeting L. reminded the group of the real human lives that could be changed by their work as they headed into the final phase of the design challenge. Here’s hoping L. will eventually see the outcome of their work.