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Heather Fleming (2008) Pop!Tech Pop!Cast

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POP!TECH [♪ POP!TECH Theme Music ♪] Brings Together The World's Leading Thinkers To Share Inspiration and Ideas Igniting Change And Unlocking Human Potential This Is Part Of Their Ongoing Conversation POP!TECH POP!CAST What an honor to be speaking with the Pop!Tech community and to be sharing the stage with the likes of Paul Polak. And I'm actually really grateful that Paul Polak spoke yesterday because he's laid the foundation for the type of stuff that I'm going to be talking about today. So with that said, I decided that maybe I'd share a little bit more of myself to start. And so, the next slide is a photo of me at 5 years old at my Grandpa's house, with my lamb in tow. And where I came from has kind of set the stage for where I am today. It's a very important part of the story. At Grandpa's house, we didn't have electricity, we used kerosene lighting. If we wanted water, we had to drive several miles down a bumpy road to a local well. And it was my sister's and my job to fill up the 50-gallon steel drums and try to hold the lids down as we made our way back down the bumpy road, and proceed to lose half the water in the process. There was no indoor bathroom so we used an outhouse that was about 25 yards from the house and gave horracious splinters -- that's mostly what I remember about it. And as a 5-year-old, I thought that this was a common way for people to live in the United States. So when I got to college, I heard Martin Fisher talk about the objectives of KickStart, and that was the moment that I knew exactly what I wanted to do. So I got a degree in product design engineering and I took a job at a design firm called D2M, Inc. And I waited for Martin Fisher to call me to tell me I needed to be part of his company. But that never happened. So, instead, I found Engineers Without Borders. And the great thing about that was I met a lot of other people who were just like me. People who wanted to use design to close that gap in social inequality instead of continuously increasing it. And I learned that there are tens of thousands of designers and engineers who want to be involved in humanitarian work, but their opportunity is limited to volunteering or low-paying jobs. And that's failure. It's failure on all of our parts. Because there's billions of people in the world in need and there's thousands of engineers and designers who want to do something about it, but there's no way for them to converge. So what Catapult is doing is trying to bridge that gap. Bringing designers and engineers to the nonprofits around the world who are trying to get life-altering technologies to users like Ajala. In a sense, we are the design and engineering resource for these organizations that maybe have limited capacity or just don't have the expertise to tackle some of their most challenging engineering problems. And Lalit is really -- and organizations like his -- are kind of the glue to our model, Because it's through them that we're able to gain the trust and access to the communities that we're trying to work in. And we also have a holistic approach to the design process. We're constantly considering the needs of our end users, the needs of the community at large, as well as the needs of the organizations that we're working with, trying to help build self-sustaining organizations as well as transferring our knowledge and our thinking so that they can, the next time around, address those problems differently. To date, we have run the gamut in terms of design projects. We're working in 7 countries. And I really wanted to bring a prop, because we're all about tangibles. But, you know, you can't check in a rock crusher and get it through security. So what I did bring was this fun little guy. This is called the Hippo Roller. Some of you may know it. It's a nonprofit in South Africa. They've been operating for about 13 years. And this is a 90-liter water transportation product. Now, clearly, it's not to scale, so I am going to offend women around the world by bringing out a naked Barbie. I am very sorry, but she's my scale model. And she's also here to represent -- Theresa here is representing the women in South Africa who travel 4 miles on a daily basis to get 5 gallons of water for their families. And using the Hippo Roller, she can collect 4 days' worth of water in a single trip. And she can push or pull, depending on the type of terrain that she's in. Now, Engineers Without Borders and Project H Design in San Francisco are working on a separate effort with Hippo Roller, but I thought it was a great illustration of the type of organizations that we're working with, as well as the type of projects that we're working on. And that was pretty much all I had, so I just wanted to thank everybody. And I did, as I was walking up here, I did think of one thing, because we had the design cocktail last night. And I'll slowly walk off-stage because I know my time is up. But I just met a lot of discouraged people, designers and engineers, and for years, I waited around for an organization like Catapult to exist. And it never crossed my mind that I could or that I should be the one to just start it. But Gandhi had it right when he said, "You have to be the change that you want to see in the world." But the part of it that was missing for me was getting the courage to be the change that you want to see in the world. So I'm hoping that we can all engage in that concept. Thank you very much. This work is licensable under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License For details please visit POP!TECH For more Pop!Casts, information on Pop!Tech or to learn how to participate, visit

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 22 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: Pop!Tech
Director: Pop!Tech
Views: 142
Posted by: beth on Nov 20, 2008

Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow Heather Fleming shares with you information about Catapult Design.

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