Sami Nerenberg, a self-titled “Community Designer” at Grain, a sustainable design collective, seeks to organize and empower communities with design as the excuse for connection and conversation. Her most recent project, “Room by Room,” is a pilot healthy home makeover show with inner city teens. This summer, Sami, in partnership with Brown University, the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and several other community partners, brought together ten inner city youth for a free summer program, funded by the Workforce Investment Act, where students learned about environmental threats within the home such as lead, mold, pests and toxic cleaning products. They also learned interior design skills to makeover their own rooms to become healthy, beautiful and affordable spaces. In recognition for her work and this program, Timberland dubbed Sami as a 2009 EarthKeeper Hero.
Prior to this venture, Sami was the youngest adjunct faculty at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she developed and taught the advanced studio, “Design for Social Entrepreneurship,” which aims to cultivate social entrepreneurial designers by investigating the power of products, systems and services to create positive social and environmental change both internationally and domestically. Her studio and its projects were discussed in Metropolis Magazine, NextBillion.net, Fast Company, Core77 and RISD Views. Sami previously worked at Design that Matters in Cambridge and Greenblue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition in Virginia before returning to her alma mater to teach. In the Spring of 2010, Sami will co-teach the Design Futures course for Pratt’s Design Management Program.