I am a designer and I think a lot about exploration - not just about going somewhere new and pitching a tent in places with unfamiliar names - but also about finding ways to get to know people and the kind of lives they lead. In a digital world that allows us easy and instant access to people from around the globe, cultural exploration and understanding is as important to us now as geographical exploration and understanding was to people like Roald Amundsen and Lewis and Clark.
I wonder how we can connect, discover and bridge our own experiences with experiences of people who live in different places around the world.
The purpose of my project is to provide access to relevant information about people and ways of life in parts of the world that are hard to reach. For designers, my hope is that the information gathered from this work can be used as a starting point to further inspire and influence projects that lie at the intersection of design, technology and social entrepreneurship. For everyone else, I hope that my efforts will get them excited about exploring and encourage them to investigate and ask questions about the world they live in.
In an effort to create these authentic connections between people living in different parts of the world, I will provide an insider's look into the lives of people living in Northern Pakistan. Their stories will be documented online so that others can connect with and learn from their perspectives..
THE STORY: Last summer I trekked to K2 base camp in Pakistan. While my experience with the geography was nothing short of amazing, I was equally inspired by the people I met, their stories and their unique solutions to problems in such a harsh landscape.
As a designer, I was motivated to uncover new perspectives, understand different experiences, and create new ways for people to interact with their world.
THE PLAN: Go back to the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan to reconnect with my mountain guides who have agreed, this time, to take me into their homes, local schools and village communities, tell me their stories and share their everyday lives with me.
The resulting project will be an online documentation of my journey and collection of stories and insights from people I meet along the way.
THE APPROACH: WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
Asking lots of questions.
Learning about ways of life.
Uncovering interesting tidbits and meaningful stories.
Documenting my experiences with words, photographs, video so that I can publish and share them with you.
WHY YOU SHOULD CONTRIBUTE:
Because it’s time for designers to become better explorers.
It is clear to me that design now, more than ever, must become more anthropologic. Designers need to have the space and time to gather information, to connect with people, industries, projects and places that they haven’t explored before. Our 21st century lives have given us so many ways to connect, and we can’t disengage from a world that is getting smaller by the minute.
Our explorations must find ways to create meaningful experiences for people from different geographies. In order to do so, we need to be able to move seamlessly among people, information and environments.
WHAT YOU'LL GET:
Homebody: $5+ Every explorer needs a place to call home. And I love that you’ll always be there for me. For $5 or more, I’ll give you props on my blog and be sure to keep you posted on my return so you know when to have the chocolate chip cookies ready.
Armchair Explorer: $25+ National Geographic Channel has nothing on the stories I will bring back, so for $25 and up I’ll make sure you get a cool set of postcards that will show you the sights of Pakistan from the comfort of your own home, and a link to all online documentation.
Expedition Scout $65+* Your expedition won’t get very far without having a bit of insight about what’s coming up next. In addition to everything already mentioned, I’ll send you a special preview package that gives you an inside scoop of some of the places I’ll be going and people I’ll be working with.
*Added bonus! If you donate $75 or more I’ll make sure that your preview includes a few key phrases in Urdu so you can effectively scout out the best samosa joint in your neighborhood.
Desert Nomad: $125+ It might take a while before you wander on over to my side of the mountain. I’ll send you a hand drawn (and specially annotated!) map of one of my daily journeys in Pakistan. It will undoubtedly give you all kinds of juicy data that I have tracked so you can find your way. Yes, you’ll get all the other stuff too.
Trusted Guide: $300+ Without a doubt, guides know where it’s at. Your mastery of local information and insights has come from a lifetime of asking great questions. So send me a question, and I’ll try to seek out a Pakistani who has answers. A personal response will be sent to you via Pakistani post. If you don’t have a specific question, I’ll surprise you with some insider’s tips I stumble across.
Marco Polo Rides Again $1000+ Signore Polo went all the way to China to hear a few good stories. Get yourself to New York and I’ll treat you to an afternoon in the wilderness of the Hudson river valley and share all manner of stories and insights with you live and in person.