ExitEvent is participating in this year’s Hopscotch Design Festival, an event in its third year that attracts designers from multiple industries into the heart of downtown Raleigh ahead of the annual Hopscotch Music Festival. 

The Design Festival kicked off on Thursday morning with keynote addresses from New York Times bestselling author and Duke University Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship Senior Fellow Dan Heath and serial entrepreneur and designer Tina Roth Eisenberg, known internet-wide as Swiss Miss
Throughout the day, nearly 350 designers from a wide swath of industries heard speakers and panel discussions about the latest innovations in design thinking and emerging academic research in transition design. They also played in creative installations at CAM Raleigh and other venues throughout downtown Raleigh. 
Organizer (and New Kind Chief Design Officer) Matthew Muñoz kicked off the event by sharing the stated purpose of the event with the audience: to create a space that breaks from the normal routine and creates collaborative collisions among creative professionals in the region. 
Here are nine themes that emerged on Thursday 

The Triangle’s Entrepreneurial Economy Still Lacks Diversity 

The early afternoon panel discussion centered around the lack of diversity in the entrepreneurial economy of the Triangle, after Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy, president of Shaw University, presented data on diversity within the tech sector. She also detailed how Shaw is addressing this gap through partnerships with Raleigh’s employers. 
“Once we determine that equity matters, we can lift as we climb,” said Dubroy. Locally, Shaw University can and must be an anchor within the community and also a connector for its students and Raleigh’s economy.
This effort also carries weight in the food production and farming system, according to Erin White, the founder of Community Food Lab, a design firm that works to design systems that deliver better health outcomes for communities in urban, suburban and rural areas, through rigorous landscape and infrastructure design based in community connections and relationships. 
“If you design for food and food systems, you design for healthy communities,” said White. 
This work takes resources: time, human capital, financial investment, community input, trust and patience. Yet, if we are to create long-term systemic change, said White, our systems must focus on design from the outset. 

Want Change? Start Where You Are. 

What tickles your heart? Eisenberg introduced this question, showing a video of Steven Spielberg’s inspirational “Listen for the Whisper” speech, to the audience, urging attendees that if they wanted change, to listen to the whispers that tickled their heart. 
This theme was echoed in talks throughout the day: if you want change, start where you are. 
Start in your community, by working on what interests you the most. What challenges do you face? How might you flip those challenges to find creative solutions? When we turn challenges—individual, business, societal—into opportunities for creative and playful design, we just might find solutions that work to create a just, better world.