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Citizen Commerce: Taking it to the classroom

Jesse Buckley

It feels busier than usual around here these days, but maybe that's because I've been getting out more. This past Tuesday I accompanied Jules to MIT where she presented Daily Grommet to a room full of undergraduates participating in an orientation week for the MIT Ideation Lab and their program, Discover Product Design. These are students entering college for the first time, and their enthusiasm was infectious. It made me want to go back to school myself.

We met at 8 in the morning, and Jules kicked it off by having the students bring an object with them that was important to them. I tried to keep track of the objects, which fell into four categories: items of curiosity (1), items with sentimental value (5), personal fabrications (2), and what you might expect from MIT, items which were particularly functional (10). These are students interested in designing better objects, so to see what they valued and why was fascinating. When I looked up, Jules had drawn pictures of them on the blackboard:

Jules then ran through her PowerPoint deck, telling the story behind Daily Grommet -- the ideas which have crystallized around Citizen Commerce, and the stories of the Finders & Founders which surround us. Seeing Jules present was fascinating -- she's a natural! But what was even more inspiring was the reaction from the students. They said things like:

"Hearing about thoughtful creation and consumption was a good way to remind us as designers to think about both sides of the equation."

"Daily Grommet is different, because although you're buying really interesting things, you actually feel good about doing so."

and

"You're the kind of company we want to like."

For some reason I was surprised that purchasing is such a conscious process even for people at that point in their lives. Of course it's not a fair sample -- this was the MIT Ideation Lab after all, and Jules certainly set the stage. But it made me realize that there are simple pleasures, an intuitive appeal to the "boutique on a mission" that is Daily Grommet. There were two points that I've continued to think about through the week. One was "don't get too big." There's an inherent mistrust in larger companies and the buy it and leave facility they promote. Of course we want to grow, but I wonder if there is a glass ceiling to the personal relevance we strive for. The other was Tweeted out by @MITIdeationLab :

" It's been hard to keep up with our thoughts… but we're at least taking notes. Hopefully we can start to reflect and synthesize."

I feel the same way, taking notes (ecosystem 'artist' book) and trying to make the time to reflect and synthesize. Is there an App for that?

I encourage you to visit this article from Boston.com to learn more about MIT's Discover Product Design program, they are doing really inspiring things.

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