One Earth Designs aims to ignite innovation across the socio-environmental spectrum among Himalayan agricultural and nomadic communities, working directly with local stakeholders to ensure each invention is of real practical value to the community. From portable solar stoves that keep indoor air clean to high-tech textiles that distribute heat evenly and seal it in for long cold hauls, the products OED churns out embody the organization’s four core principles: Addressing immediate needs, building capacity for innovation through education, providing an incubator for technical and financial support, and co-designing hand-in-hand with the local community.
One of the OED’s inventions, SolSource — a lightweight umbrella-like solar energy device that offers a low-cost, portable means of cooking, heating and electricity generation — was the grand winner of the annual Dutch Postcode Lottery Green Challenge competition, taking home €500,000 to make the device widely available to 2.5 billion of the world’s poorest people.
SolSource was co-designed by rural Himalayan communities and embodies the future of community-centric, locally-grounded collaborative design – a true pinnacle of community empowerment through creative ownership of both process and product.
Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine, Design Observer and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.