Daniel Phillips (’08 Architecture/Landscape/Interiors) and Kim Karlsrud (’07 Product Design) of COMMONstudio
Daniel and Kim created Greenaid, a Los Angeles-based social enterprise that makes guerilla gardening efforts easier and more accessible to the general public. Seedbombs are the weapon of choice - small nuggets of clay, compost, and native seeds that are thrown (and grown) in otherwise neglected corners of the urban landscape. The Greenaid vending machine offers the public instant and affordable access to seedbombs at over 100 locations (and counting) worldwide, and Greenaid seedbombs are hand-rolled in Culver City using local materials, sustainable packaging, and socially responsible labor. Working in partnership with Chrysalis, a local non-profit, Greenaid offers employment opportunities and a living wage to formerly homeless or economically disadvantaged men and women.
It happened organically and a little accidentally – it didn’t start off as a entrepreneurial ambition, but a means of realizing a design idea in the face of a recession. After experiencing the frustration and lack of opportunities within our fields we tried to stay proactive and engaged through collaborating (together and otherwise) on projects we found interesting. We’ve found that when you start with local issues and needs, rather than clients, the projects are way more relevant, meaningful, impact-oriented and fun. Sure the economy is bad right now, but that means there’s huge opportunities for new types of creative and responsible industries to emerge – and if you’re willing to take a risk for something you believe in, there’s always a way to make it happen.
What we soon realized was that it’s relatively easy to do one copy of something, and it’s a whole new ball game when you suddenly have to think about doing more. Our breakthrough moment was when we were introduced to the crowd-funding website Kickstarter.com. We raised $10,000 through Kickstarter which enabled us to establish an initial presence in L.A. To date, we’ve over 100 Greenaid dispensers across the U.S. Mexico, Canada, and Europe. We estimate that we’ve distributed about 75 million native seeds into the world using seedbombs.
Otis provided a curriculum that was rigorous without being too rigid. It was flexible enough and small enough to nurture the passions and unique approaches of the individual. There was a lot of room to find your own way. No school can completely prepare you for what everyone faces after graduation, but it was at Otis that we learned to combine our creative instincts with the ability to act upon them in strategic ways, and that’s made the difference for us.
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