The Lemonade Project, "The Year of Yes"

The Lemonade Project, “The Year of Yes”

"The Year of Yes” began as a simple phrase association exercise between Tina and I. Building from a previous Lemonade conversation, we wanted this particular session to highlight the times that we have designed ourselves for others. When the user (the one who you are designing for) ceases to be you, and instead, becomes your job, co-workers, family, or friends, you can lose sight of yourself. In promoting yes, we are promoting self actualization."  -Blair Banks

Below, The Lemonade Project participant, Rivka Genesen, describes her experience at "The Year of Yes" session:

For years the first thing I did every morning was fail. I was desperate to become an early morning person who went to the gym before the sun came up so I set an alarm for 5:30 a.m. with the intention of getting to a spin class before the day began. Every day for years I aspired to be a different, fantastical version of myself and every day the first thing I did was reset my alarm clock when it rang out, resigned and defeated. Resolutions became premeditated self-loathing, so I adopted a policy of “no expectations.”

In the fourth session of The Lemonade Project, “The Year of Yes,” we set the foundation for the conversation with introductions (our names, which sometimes meant what the people who really know us call us, and an interesting fact). The intention was set at the start of the evening and truly adhered to- The Lemonade Project is meant to be a space for honest dialogue about race, gender, and class. Before we could talk about our resolutions after all, we needed an accurate appraisal of who we actually are and who we pretend to be. Do we trade in energy the time we spend at trying to remove our otherness and make ourselves “acceptable”?

We checked our bags, literally, for evidence, for relics of the past or for how we want to be seen by other. What do we carry with us, who do we carry with us? I’ve carried physical totems- a gym bag, phone numbers not dialed in years (or ever), and endless CVS receipts lining the bottom of my overlarge purse. What would it mean to cast off the weight of the books hauled from place to place but never read, to delete the numbers we choose not to call, let go of the friendships that grow increasingly toxic?

If I am ok with an evolving me, then I don’t need a new year as an excuse to morph into someone better and I can let go of that old January  “new year, new me” mentality. Instead I can make like Shonda Rhimes and set an intention to have a “year of yes.” Is “yes” an agreement to letting go of what no longer works? Maybe “yes” sounds like a no to other people. Maybe “yes” comes with judgment.

What is your “yes”? 

The Lemonade Project, “The Right to Feel”

My daily inner monologue often starts with questions. 

What should I wear to work? Did I remember to lock the front door? Where are my notes? What’s for dinner? 

These questions are familiar. We ask them, and will continue to ask them throughout our lifetime as a natural part of our human experience. Yet, in their comfort lie deeper and more philosophical questions – the hidden gems that appear in brief glimpses of genius. I happened upon one this weekend, as I reflected upon the latest session of The Lemonade Project.

‘Can we use design to simplify or break down the complex emotions we as humans feel?’

On the surface, the act of feeling should be easy. It’s a pretty straightforward process – you feel, and then react accordingly. Yet, the act of feeling, and the outward expression of how you feel can be a strenuous task. For women, and especially women of color, emoting is subject to being policed. Have an opinion about a social matter? Well, you’re just “angry” or “sensitive” about the topic on hand. Have to make an important decision? Well, your skills may be questioned due your “irrationality” as a woman. Instances like these taint the beauty of expression, and complicate the simplicity of feeling.

In naming the third session of The Lemonade Project “You Got A Right to Be Mad” we put our own personal stake on the ‘emotional battleground’. Rather than disassociate from our emotions, we broke them down. As a community, we put into words what made us angry and placed them on the wall in an array of blue, purple, pink, orange, and yellow sticky notes. Rapidly firing off our thoughts, a variety of concerns materialized on the wall opposite the MODA logo in the lobby of the museum. We made connections between various phobias, systemic inequalities, and personal traumas, offering up personal experiences to complement the scripted concerns.

As we encompassed that moment, we exercised an unalienable right. Harkening back to 18th century US History, the first amendment of the United States Constitution grants freedom of speech and expression. As human beings, we have an innate right to experience the totality of our emotions without the policing of others. What would occur if we did? Would the reward of doing so outweigh the risk?

‘Can we use design to simplify or break down the complex emotions we as humans feel?’

It can certainly create a space to start the process, and offer up new solutions.

-Blair Banks, MODA Education Coordinator & Design Club Manager

The Lemonade Project, "Birthing as Resistance"

“Birthing as Resistance”

“Type ‘girls’ into the search engine and describe what you see.”

Set in the darkened auditorium of our Midtown neighbors, the Alliance Française d’Atlanta, a group of men and women attending The Lemonade Project Session Two faced a projection screen. With cell phone in hand, they searched for images of men, boys, girls, and women, as similar screenshots from a Google search appeared before them.

“I see mostly women.”

“There’s only one girl, and she looks out of place.”

Observations rang out into the air, often met with nods of agreement and collective musing, as we journeyed through a meaningful collaborative exercise showcasing the media’s role in our own socialization and the conceptualization of ourselves.

Yet, before socialization lays claim to us, we are born. Merriam-Webster defines birth as the emergence of a new individual from the body of its parent. But, what does birthing truly mean? Can it only be used in reference to the relationship between a living thing, and its parent? Can it inhabit more?

At MODA, we present design in all of it forms, including redesign. What if we could radically transform birthing as a process that we can do for ourselves? What if, in the process of birthing, we could design our own self-concept that encourages the blossoming of our true selves? What if birthing became an act of resistance against prejudice?

As we exchanged stories that November night, we slowly chipped away at the lessons society taught us in our youths. We took steps together towards our own rebirths, and began the long journey towards designing social justice for both ourselves and our communities.

-Blair Banks, MODA Education Coordinator and Design Club Manager

The Lemonade Project, Kick-Off

Get In Formation.

MODA is no stranger to radical ideas and out-of-the-box conversations about design’s capacity to solve problems, transform lives, and make the world a better place. So, naturally, no one was surprised to find a printed copy of Beyonce’s Lemonade Syllabus laying on a round marble table in the office of Laura Flusche, MODA's Executive Director, one morning.

Fast forward through expansive conversations about Beyonce’s visual album and all of the design decisions that went into producing something so spectacular, juxtaposed with conversation about our need to design for social justice — that's how the Lemonade Project was born at MODA. Before we knew it we had a timeline, one rallying around fearless leaders Blair Banks and Ariana Hamilton, and a launch plan for 12 months of Lemonade activation. This program marks a year-long effort to design an open and accepting space for conversation and action intended to advance social justice in Atlanta.

With the announcement of the Lemonade Project, the MODA team opened registration for three sessions to be held in October, November, and December 2016. In just a few days, all the sessions sold out. Moving quickly from a 200 seat lecture hall to a 400 seat theatre, MODA opened up the wait list for Session One in order to accommodate as many people as possible, and kicked off the project with a screening of the visual album followed by breakout conversations dedicated to the themes that inform the chapters of Lemonade. Being in that room, watching Lemonade on the big screen, and being a part of the conversation that followed was nothing short of amazing. And just like that, the beyhive was In Formation.

MODA Design Club

The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) believes that design solves problems, transforms lives, and makes the world a better place – and it also believes that kids are great problem-solvers because they see the world with fresh eyes and vivid imagination. MODA’s classes, camps, and family activities are designed to help kids fall in love with the problem-solving power of design and to empower youth to use design thinking to face the real world challenges they encounter in everyday life.

In order to teach these skills to as many metro-Atlanta children as possible, MODA offers a free membership to any child, 0 – 17 of age, who walks through their front door. Memberships are valid until a child turns 18, and provide a wide variety of benefits that keep kids learning about design:

  1. A free personalized membership card

  2. Unlimited free exhibition admission (and free admission for an adult of their choice)

  3. Inspiring newsletters featuring design challenges kids can do at home

  4. Invitations to invite-only Design Club activities all year round

In support of this revolutionary program, MODA joined forces with HOW Design Live in Atlanta. At MODA’s How Design Live booth – marked by colorful towers that are part of the playful Design Club brand, created by Atlanta firms Primal Screen and Son & Sons – HOW Design Live attendees made donations in support of Design Club and were invited to participate in the “LEGO Selfie Challenge” where they were asked to build representations of themselves using only the iconic, colorful blocks as their medium.

Participants included some of the design world’s superstars, like Steff Geissbuhler, Ken Carbone, Brian Singer, and Chip Kidd (who returned to the booth several times to make gentle adjustments to his LEGO hair). The Atlanta design community rallied around the effort, using MODA’s rally cry, “We Want More Design, Atlanta,” to encourage peers from across the world to support this important initiative.

HOW Design Live LEGO Selfies: