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My grandma was a Maker

My grandmother, Grace, passed away nearly a year ago. She was a maker and hacker, although she wouldn't have used those terms, her whole life. Everything was a prototype. If something didn't quite work right, she'd go to her tractor shed or basement and find some parts and improve it. Her meat grinder had a suction cup stand she robbed from another appliance. She was always gluing, duct-taping or screwing one object to another. When her dexterity became limited, she started modifying household items.

She wrapped these salt shakers with rubber bands to improve their grip. They are still on the farm's kitchen table. I think of them as a monument to her ingenuity - how she saw the world and objects.


Design for yourself

I did't train as an engineer or anthropologist —two of the more common pathways into design thinking. In fact, I found the language and tools of design after I was well into my career in healthcare.

I'm aware I'm not a seasoned designer, but not always sure I know what I don't know...I am, as Noel Burch would say, consciously incompetent.

Lately, I've been working on my relocation to DC. I've had to sort through finding a place in a city I don't know as well as I thought I did. And then there are all the moving pieces (pun marginally intended) of orchestrating a move.

Then it occurred to me: be your own design subject. I re-approached the entire process by first interviewing myself. I asked myself questions like:  selfwhat kind of place do you want? What should it be near? What do you dislike about your current place?  I made post-its with my must haves, wants and dislikes. Those post-its turn into trial runs of hotel nights in various neighborhoods to practice commutes and check out restaurants; in other words, prototypes.

This weekend, I applied the same process to coordinating everything about the move.

The lesson for me, and perhaps other designers: take time to design for yourself.