58-12 Design Lab
58-12 Design Lab is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization formed and registered in the State of California. In 2009, three friends at UCLA who were going into architecture, law, and business sought to use the power of good design in order create positive social change. They embarked on a journey that led them somewhere between anthropology, journalism, and design and this unique approach has continued as the organization now focuses on place-based, social research and media production that reveals the overlooked, the misunderstood, and the opaque.
Our organizations achievements are intimate, personal, and real: we engage directly with disenfranchised communities to make their stories heard. We are strong believers in the power of storytelling, and the achievements we are most proud of include a multi-media journalistic exploration of migrant workers around the 2008 World Expo in Shanghai, another exploration of an amazing community of people that live in buses in Venice, and a public awareness campaign for Los Angeles that encourages people to meet their neighbors.
We have also partnered with a number of individuals and institutions in order to achieve our goals, including designers, storytellers, researchers, and cool folks like the people at metaLAB at Harvard. They developed a web application called Zeega that we are currently working with to tell the story of Hmong communities in California, among other things.
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1 Submitted Idea
- 2013 Grants Challenge
LA Stories — Writing on the Job
Los Angeles suffers from some of the highest rates of unemployment in the nation, and is also home to the nation’s largest population of storytellers. Coincidence? We hope not! 58-12 Design Lab proposes to unpack these facts in the context of LA through the production of a book titled “Writing on the Job,” launching the “LA Stories” series of books with topical, engaging stories on Los Angeles. This initial volume will revolved around the theme of jobs. What is the landscape of employment in Los Angeles? How is the everyperson faring in today’s world? What might a future world look like for jobs in LA? What are the unknown, overlooked, and strange stories that haven’t been told? By engaging with poets, fiction and non-fiction authors, screenwriters and playwrights, journalists, and writers of all stripes, we hope to achieve several goals.
First, we will provide an alternative medium to the talking heads that the mainstream media provides through storytelling in new scopes, from an intimate story of a family going through economic hardship, to the big picture vision that a sci-fi novella can provide but that non-fiction accounts often overlook. We believe that this approach offers new insight into the well-worn ground of economic hardship that we have all experienced over the past several years. The book will be directly distributed free of charge to local libraries, schools, and similar public institutions so it can be disseminated throughout the city, and can provide a cause for community-building book launch events throughout LA.
Second, we believe that storytelling is, in fact, a radical means to create real change. So often, our reality is dictated by the stories we hear and tell, and to change those stories with intention offers an escape from this self-fulfilling cycle. Storytelling offers a way for people from different cultural or socio-economic backgrounds to relate to one another, to understand one another, and to create positive social change. So we believe that beyond mere media, our collection of stories will spark real change for employment and income in Los Angeles.
Third, we believe that by partnering with storytellers, one of the largest and most underemployed groups in Los Angeles, we will be able to offer real and direct support through a grant given to each writer contained in the volume, as well as through editorial support and name recognition. We hope that LA Stories will continue from the success of this initial volume, becoming an LA institution that supports, fosters, and promotes writers in this city. LA has amazing human capital in this area but it will take a project like LA Stories: Writing on the Job to galvanize this group, and to create a community that can project the individual storytellers beyond competition to shared success.