Creating a Service Design District

On August 17, eight designers traveled to the SE quadrant of Washington, D.C. for the first SDN Chapter meeting and planning session. Many of us there had yet to meet one another face to face. This post provides an update to our first community planning meeting.

"DC is a service capital. All of the policy makers are here, there is a ton of opportunity for change."

We started off with introductions (and gratitude - to our co-founders Aza and Lisa for initiating this meeting!) – making new connections and associations. We were there to get to know one another and talk about the journey of building a service design community in DC. As the sun set we finished sharing our personal stories and Lisa passed out agendas, shifting the conversation to focus on our mission.

“DC is a service capital,” one designer said. “All of the policy makers are here, there is a ton of opportunity for change.” Heads nodded around the table, while taking into consideration the local industries and the challenges and opportunities at play. “In DC, we have a link to people all over the world,” another chimed in. “That’s important.” By the time our pickled veggies, summer squash, and sour beers were at the bottoms of their glasses and bowls we had distinguished two needs: 

1.     Programmatic needs

a.   Thought leadership – to plug into the global network of knowledge

b.   Partnerships – to keep us well fed and exploring different parts of the city

c.   Promoting service design locally - specifically to government agencies and organizations that need it

d.   Storytelling – a platform to share stories

2.     Social and creative needs

a. Designer friends – other people who live and breathe the design process

b. Designer hangouts – a community of design problem solvers

c. Making cool things – people who are ready and willing to collaborate

d. Cross-discipline dinners – curated and facilitated dinner + discussion

In order to collaborate and plan more effectively, we created a digital space to document our meetings and ideas. Not everyone was able to be there in person that night, however, we received several thoughtful emails from remote members and incorporated those into our working document and correspondences.

We eagerly await our Celebration event at the Booz Allen Innovation Center where we talk about the many ‘flavors’ of service design in DC . In typical design thinking fashion, we intend to build an understanding of what we are trying to do simply by immersing ourselves in our community event. So join us on September 27, listen, observe, and share your ideas. We are thrilled to create a distinct space for service design in DC!

Candid of Service Design DC planning meeting
Candid of Service Design DC planning meeting - Alissa Millenson

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