Optimistic Power of Design

November 1, 2021
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The Optimistic Power of Design

Kiana Wenzell, Director – Detroit Month of Design – Design Core Detroit


November is a month of thanks.

Thanksgiving is an American national holiday that started as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and year.

According to History.com Editors:

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

Since then, Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November and has been an annual tradition. On Thanksgiving Day, it is common for Americans to share a family meal and attend cultural or sporting events.

Personal Reflections: Kiana Wenzell 

It is important to note that the sentiment people have today about Thanksgiving didn’t always exist and sometimes still doesn’t. The holiday is marketed as a time to get together with family and friends and talk about what we are thankful for and that’s how the holidays should just be. However, in reality, the original Thanksgiving was marked with much turmoil and for many indigenous people signifies a change in their way of life with scars that are still present today.

For me, Thanksgiving means so much more than a meal and football game. I spend the entire month of November and Thanksgiving Day as a time to reflect and actively embrace gratitude despite the challenges ahead and disappointments behind. Focusing on what I am thankful for and observing how that optimism is translated into my everyday decision-making and experiences has been transformational. Perhaps this is because I am a designer. I believe that designers are inherently more optimistic than most people due to their ability to dream and conceive of ideas that don’t currently exist. I believe that designers are innately optimistic because they believe in the transformative power of their decisions and actions.

Designers believe that they can change things. When faced with challenges and obstacles, designers don’t give up, they lean in, and work towards solutions. For me, the transformational power of design is the ability to solve a problem on all levels and from within. The ability to visualize something that doesn’t exist and take steps towards making it a reality no matter what barriers stand in the way. The optimistic power of design is the ability to take an idea that is born in the mind, knowing that the idea was only born because it is possible. As we glide our way through the month of November and beyond, I hope that everyone can grab on to a sense of gratitude in their own lives and see where that optimism will take you. 

Upcoming Design Core Events 

Client Services Boot Camp 2021: Design Core Detroit’s Client Services Boot Camp is an interactive, six-session program for small-to-medium-sized design firms/agencies and freelancers, based on the fundamentals of client services for design service providers. Applications are due by October 24. 

Ways to Celebrate

Monroe Street Drive-In Powered By Emagine
2021 America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Gardner-White
Light Up Beacon Park
The Rink Opening Weekend at Campus Martius Park


Podcast: A Code Switch Thanksgiving Feast
Articles: History of Thanksgiving