“Creative Action for Collective Good”

If you’re an architect or a designer interested in sustainability and social responsibility—and, by now, we hope that includes everyone in the design professions—you may want to check out a new Web site called The Living Principles. Conceived by the AIGA in partnership with several other professional organizations, the site attempts to clarify the multiple dimensions of sustainable, socially-responsible design, and to create an online community where designers can share information and perspectives.

Its core philosophy is something called the Living Principles Framework, which claims to be a synthesis of “the collective wisdom found in decades of sustainability theories.” What the framework does is to create an organizational structure—the four “streams” of Environment, People, Economy, and Culture—that informs the content on the rest of the site.

That content includes insightful writing—some of it drawn from media partners like Places Journal—as well as event listings, book recommendations, and videos of talks on sustainable design. More importantly, visitors can contribute their own content to any of the site’s sections through an easy-to-use interface. This makes The Living Principles particularly compelling; within just a month of its launch, it already carries case studies, student work, and opinion pieces, contributed by members from all over the world. But perhaps my favorite resource on the site is Words to Know—a glossary of socially-responsible-design jargon. Today’s Word of the Day, for instance, is “Closed-loop supply chain.” If you don’t know what that is, rush to livingprinciples.org to find out.

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