Emily Pilloton, founder and executive director of Project H Design, had been working in Bertie County, N.C., for two years before she decided to move her whole firm there. The county's school superintendent, Dr. Chip Zullinger had recruited Pilloton to reshape the school district around design and creativity. After working on several projects, Pilloton says she and her colleagues pitched the idea of teaching their design thinking to kids full-time, via their Studio H high school program. "We moved there because of a fantastic opportunity to build a place where we had the support of a superintendent and the space to do so, with students who needed it," says Pilloton.
Project H, according to the firm's website, is, "a team of designers, builders and teachers engaging in our own backyards to improve the quality of life for all." The firm has brought its design skills to bear on a wide swath of improvements in the Bertie, the poorest in the state, via renovation of the local public high school's computer labs, the creation of an educational playground system and the reintroduction of shop classes so that students can learn to help the community from both inside and outside the classroom.
Prior to her work in Bertie County, Ms. Pilloton wrote a book titled "Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People," that became the inspiration behind the creation of the Design Revolution Road Show, which was an exhibition and lecture series that included high schools and colleges throughout the country in spring 2010 to empower the younger generation to create new and beneficial problem-solving initiatives.