004: De Nichols (Social Practice Designer)

De Nichols on Innovation City

“In the social change space…we have to first listen… In most cases, the people who are most affected by issues… have a wealth of knowledge about how to fix it.” — De Nichols

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in conjunction with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community.

This episode’s guest is De Nichols, a St. Louis-based social practice designer, entrepreneur and lecturer.

De mobilizes changemakers nationwide to develop creative approaches to the social, civic, and racial justice issues that matter most to them and their communities. She is a creator who uses art to voice dissent and highlight systemic societal issues. She also uses art to bring communities together and build them up.

De received a full ride scholarship to Washington University in St. Louis, where she attended the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Olin Business School, and Brown School of Social Work.

She has delivered two TedX talks: her 1st TedX talk, ‘Unlocking the Creative Capacity of Youth’, was given at TEDxFurmanU; her 2nd TedX Talk, ‘The Art of Protest’, was given at TEDxGatewayArch.

They discuss:

  • What being a social practice designer means
  • Communications and Communications Design
  • The Mirror Casket (which is now exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture
  • Ferguson, MO and Protests
  • The St. Louis Metro Market
  • Creating food equity and food access in officially-designated food desserts
  • The Clinton Global Initiative
  • Jeff-Vander-Lou 63101, a challenged neighborhood in St. Louis
  • The Link Market, Storage container grocery stores at Metro stops in St. Louis
  • Growing up in rural Mississippi
  • School segregation in Mississippi in the 1990s
  • De’s Masters Social Work
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Social challenges in Tuskaloosa, Alabama
  • Making assumptions while trying to make the world a better place
  • The importance of listening
  • Working by invitation in different communities
  • Co-ownership of art
  • Faces of the Movement (a photo project that highlights the stories of everyday people who have joined together to fight for justice against police brutality in the United States)
  • The Nine Network
  • Crowdfunding
  • FoodSpark
  • Getting stories and ideas out into the world
  • The power of common cultural demoninators; eating, storytelling, art, public space, etc.
  • Finding the data, and the solutions, in the stories that we tell
  • The journey and the end goal
  • Futurism
  • De’s international projects
  • Design as the intersection of art and life