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July Design Thinking Breakfast with Lee Kim
Friday, July 30, 2021

Lee Kim led this month’s Casual breakfast series to meet new folks, practice using design, design thinking, other designerly approaches to create social impact. 


Learn more about Lee Kim:

Presentation Materials

About the Hosts

Lee Kim is a designer thinker, an engineer, a poet and a community builder. Outside her 9-5 job (as a global congress lead at Pfizer), she founded a community innovation lab- Design Dream Lab where anyone with a giving heart can create an impact and dream of a better future.

In 2020/2021, she co-created additional virtual communities – Design Thinking Zeal, H.U.G (Humans in Unbelievable Gatherings), Identity Lab, Mystery Sandbox, and Enchanted Playground – all aiming to bring more human connection to the world that is so isolating. Lee loves building and fostering creativity through everyday experiences and finds joy in connecting dots with other fun-loving and joyful human beings. She also loves to make stuff (up)!

Woman smiling wearing a white shirt.

Niesha Ford is a second-year graduate student at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Niesha works with multiple organizations committed to causes such as: providing services for people experiencing homelessness, encouraging positive racial perspectives, and working with historically marginalized groups to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic.


Tulane Taylor Center: Design Thinking Breakfast with Lee Kim: July 2021


Rebecca Otten  


Happy to do that welcome everyone it’s good to see some familiar faces, some of whom I haven’t seen much this summer and other folks that are new faces, I look forward to getting to meet you today. I’m well I don’t know about you all, but I have a lot swirling around in my head right now. The summer seems to have disappeared overnight. The fall semester is just around the corner for me, on Tulane’s campus. I’m starting to grieve the fact that it won’t be a return to normal teaching that I thought it might have been. 


And I’ve got a lot of people in my life that I’m worried might still get sick over the next couple of months in these moments. And I find it helpful to get out of my head by moving my attention to my breath and my body. 


By grounding myself in a historical perspective much longer than the last few months, and by deepening relationships and connecting to my community. So, I hope we can do that together, now, as we start our session. So, as I begin our land acknowledgement from Taylor I’m hoping we can take a moment to take a few breaths, ground our bodies in our respective locations. 


Feel free to turn off your camera or keep it on. You can close your eyes, focus on something in the room, if that feels good to you, just do what you need to do. 


Taylor is hosting this gathering from land originally inhabited and traversed by over 40 native tribes, who called it by the Choctaw name Bulbancha, a place of many tongues. We want to recognize the people who came before us and continue to call Bulbancha home.  


The federally recognized to match your Chitimacha Tribe, the Coushatta Tribe, the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, and the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe. As well as the state recognized Addai Caddo Tribe, the Biloxi-Chitimacha, Choctaw-Apache Community, Clifton Choctaw, Four Winds Tribe, Grand Caillou/Dulac Band, Isle de Jean Charles Band, Louisiana Choctaw Tribe, Pointe-Au-Chien Indian Tribe, as well as the United Houma Nation. As well as the Atakapa Nation of Louisiana.  


Now as folks start to join us back on Zoom, as you feel ready, we would love to recognize and acknowledge each of your respective locations in the chat. Please share them now, if you are able to do so. 


Thank you, feel free to keep those coming in.  


We honor the past, present and future generations who steward this place and all of these places by considering our responsibility to the land and committing to the healing of ongoing harms from colonialism, racism, and environmental destruction. 


And now we’d like to take a moment to look at the beautiful faces on our screens and acknowledge our shared humanity and our gratitude for each other, and for this space. 


So thank you for being you and for being in this moment together. 


My name is Rebecca Otten or Becky I’m a professor of practice and director of strategy and engagement at the Taylor Center at tooling and I support the team that puts together programming and events like this one.  At Taylor we support many different types of learners who want to build skills in design thinking and social innovation. This event is part of our DT breakfast series which is, hopefully, a casual playful way to learn about and try on design only approaches to creating social impact. 


Each month we bring in a different guest speaker who shares a little bit about their work and their approach to design thinking for social impact. We also hope we’re able to learn from the wealth of knowledge, each of you are bringing into this space and through the session we hope to be deepening relationships and our collective capacity to do this work. 


So, for folks that are new to the space, this is not going to be a lecture. We’ll be engaging on zoom and in the chat throughout the session. Many of us in the central mountain or West Coast time zones will likely be eating breakfast sipping on our coffee or tea, and we encourage everyone to take care of themselves during this session. And, before I hand it over to our, Niesha Ford, who is our fearless graduate assistant, who will be hosting today’s session I wanted all of us to give her a big round of applause for coordinating everything today. 


Thank you now Niesha, take it away. 


Niesha Ford 


Thank you so much Becky. So I am, yes, I’m Niesha Ford. I’m the graduate assistant of the Taylor Center. I’ve also been the co-host of the design thinking breakfast series for quite a while now so whoever’s come to these a couple times you’re probably very familiar with my face. 


But that’s just a short intro about me I’m now going to introduce our guests and then I’m going to let her take it away. 


So Lee Kim is our guest this morning. Lee is a designer, engineer, a poet, and a community leader. Outside of her nine to five job as a global congress lead at Pfizer, she founded a community innovation lab design dream lab for anyone with a giving heart can create impact and dream of a better future. In 2020 and 2021 she co-created additional virtual communities, such as design thinking zeal, H.U.G which stands for humans and unbelievable gatherings, identity lab, mystery sandbox and enchanted playground; all aiming to bring more human connection to the world that is so isolating. 


Lee loves building and fostering creativity through everyday experiences and find joy in connecting dots with other fun loving and joyful human beings. She also loves to make stuff up so without further ado I’m going to turn it over to her Thank you so much, thank you. 


Lee Kim 


Thank you. So those were all lies. I made it all up.  


Thank you, Becky and Lesley Ann, so good to see you.  


So, I came to this breakfast before, and it was so delicious. So happy to be back and actually offer my breakfast to you.  


So, I’m going to share my screen, and let me know if you can see it, and only the slide itself.  


Can you see it? 


Niesha Ford 


Yep, we can see it. 


Lee Kim 


Okay, only the slide itself, not the next slide right? 


Niesha Ford  




Lee Kim 


So, welcome to Soul Garden when Niesha reached out and asked me to kind of craft, 35 minutes or 45 minutes or 50 minute session I thought about New Orleans and I been to New Orleans and I thought about what would it be if I were to design something for a place like New Orleans. 


And I thought soul, you know soul food, soul music and I thought I love gardening so let’s do some soul garden so for this, you would need pen and paper, if you don’t have it, go and grab it. 


Now we are going to do something that my daughter, and I have done, and I showed you a little bit beforehand and it’s called improv drawing.  


So, we are going to create story together and at the same time, we are going to draw together. And I’m going to share with you how to do it and you are going to actually use the skill, later on, so this is an icebreaker but it’s also a skill that you’re going to be using during the session. 


As I speak, the story, I would like you to imagine what it is and draw it. 


And then i’ll at some point i’ll pass it along to someone else and that person will continue the story and then when it’s a good point, that person will pass along and maybe three or four people into it i’ll just ask okay that’s good enough So are we ready to go? 


Yeah? okay. 




long, long time ago. 


There was an island. 


In the middle of the island, there was a volcano. 


One day. 


A big fish flew out of the volcano. 


And the fish said. 


Julia Lang, would you like to take from there?  


Julia Lang  


Why Hello frog, what are you doing here up in the sky? 


Lee Kim 


Rebecca, would you like to take it from there. 


Rebecca Otten  


Well, I thought you were gonna be here and I wanted to meet you, the frog replied. 


Lee Kim 


Okay, so now I am going to stop sharing. And I am going to hold what I drew.  



And I would like everyone to hold what you drew. 


All right, great some volcanoes are on the side of the island, some volcanoes are in the middle, some are flying.  


Great, thank you so much. 


So, so it looks like everybody understood instruction, what to do, you know one person tells a story and two people at this time, we were 23 people doing it, but one person will tell the story, at a time, and both of us will draw the story forward, so this is called improv drawing. 


Now, at this time, I would like Niesha to put people into the breakout room, with a pair, if possible, and you will draw a story, and it will start. 


Once upon a time. 


And you will just to kind of go off each other and at three minutes time you’re going to come back. 


Niesha Ford 


Okay, if nobody has any questions I’m going to open up the rooms. 





Lee Kim 


Okay welcome back. 


All right, so um Does anyone want to share their story or should I pick someone? 


like a classroom right nobody wants to present. Rocky raised his hand. 


Rocky Williams 


Yeah, sure all right. So, Becky and I we teamed up and our story has to do with a baby chick. 


Yes, the baby chick grew so fast and soon outgrew her own pen. 


Lee Kim 


And I can see, can we see the drawing? 


Rocky Williams 


Here’s mine. 


Now she quickly outgrew her own pen and she wanted she wanted a big bed. But the big bed wasn’t big enough because the big bed didn’t have mom and dad. 


So, mom and dad they made a big bed a really big bed, but it was so big it didn’t fit in the house, so they had to build it in the backyard. 


Lee Kim 


Omg. Rocky we only had three minutes. You built a bed and you build a backyard and…  



Rocky Williams 


Oh, but, but the chick was so impressed and loved his mom and dad so much that she’s like “well if you can build, if you can build a big bed, can you also build things for me to play?” 


So, mom and dad built an entire play area, so that the baby check could bring her baby turtle and baby rabbit and other baby friends to come and play.  


So now the baby chick has everything that she ever asked for and she’s no longer crying but there’s always finding new things to want. That is the baby chick’s story. 


Lee Kim  


Thank you so much, I cannot believe you did that in three minutes. Applause, applause.  


 Okay, thank you Rocky I’m going to go back to my slide. 


So, um let me know if you can see, it can you see the slide? 


Long, long time ago yeah? 


Okay, So we did this, we did this, and we did that.  


Now here’s my story. 


So that’s me, the one that’s smiling. I grew up in an island south coast of South Korea called Jeju-do  


And because the island was surrounded by the sea, as island would be, people in the island depend a lot on nature. Which meant nature and its power or is destructive power or power of growth meant a lot. So people believe that everything on the island and that surrounds it had a soul. 


And that is where my story begins. 


My mother grew up on the coast of the island. I grew up in the mountainside. Every summer i’ll go to visit my grandparents with my brother, my brother was two years younger than me. 


My grandmother was a diver, which meant that she knew how to swim. 


And my aunt and my mom also knew how to swim, not for me and my brother. So this summer, one day, my brother went to the ocean, and he fell off the edge and he almost drowned. And my aunt couldn’t save him because she was doing something else and somehow he will say it by a village man. 


And that night my grandmother was so angry and my aunt that she didn’t pay attention to my brother. The next day, my aunt, my grandmother brought. my brother, to the same place, and she would do something that she is used to doing, which is the ritual of calling the Gods to bring the soul back. 


So, this is the ritual when they go fishing there is a ritual of wishing for the safe return, and there is a Shaman who plays the dance and the songs to make sure that they can be protected and that’s my grandmother. 


and she brought my brother to that place that he was almost drowned and every morning, she will recite: “soul come back to the body”, because she believed a soul have left somehow for the brief moment when he was drowning. And she did that for probably about two weeks until she felt that the soul was fully returned to the body. And this story is not a strange story to me because everybody in the village believed that there is a power beyond us that controls our mind and body, and also the soul. 


So, I would like to invite you to close your eyes. 


And as you take that intentional action. Relax your shoulder and slowly breathe in and  

breathe out. 


And I will invite you to take a walk with me. 


 Remember the island. 


Hear the wave. 


We will all go on walk along the shoreline. 


And there is a pine forest. 


You smell the ocean mixed with the pine leaf. 


You feel the wind on your face. 


The sun feels warm. 


As you walk into the forest. 


and walk inside it. 


It actually leads you to an opening at the end. 


here you hear the wind speaking to you. 


It that says: “Open your eyes. We are at your soul garden.”” 


Now you can open your eyes. 


So now, you were entering into your soul garden. Where it departed from your body, not in a dangerous way that my brother had gone through, but you actually walk through the shoreline, enter into a forest and in that moment you saw your soul garden. 


I would like you to take your paper. 


And for next five minutes, I would like you to draw a garden. Draw garden that your soul will visit when is happy, when it’s sad, when its tired, when it’s energized. 


I would also like you to draw garden, and your soul will live. And maybe it’s a place where your soul will invite someone special. 


So, I will give five minutes. 


Don’t worry about the shapes, whatever your hands lead, whatever the shapes comes out, you will put the reasons later. 



You have two more minutes. 


One more minute. 




So, now you have completed your soul garden or at least began to.  


Un. Niesha its going to be the same group, the group is not going to be different, because they got to create something together.  


So, the same group that you were in before will be in this group again. I’m in that group, you will share your garden with your partner. 


And as a person who is listening, you would like to know why the other person created a garden the way they did. Or she or he did. So, as you listen, you probably want to think about; why? what was important to that person? and you might want to jot it down asked that question when the person finishes his or her story 


So, you have, if you are paired it will be four minutes each rather you how you are spending time that’s up to you at eight minutes you’re going to come back, but you should know each other’s garden. Not just your garden.  


Okay, so you will share your share your drawing and you will explain each component of your garden and then let your partner to ask your question and share, whatever the thought behind it is.  


So Niesha can you put back people into the same group for eight minutes? 


Niesha Ford  


Yes, I can do that.  


All right. 




Lee Kim 


Welcome back so. I was that um, I would like to just invite everybody to just type into the chat: What did you find surprising from the conversations you had or the drawings you saw? The elements of the things that you saw?  


Hmm interesting trust. 


Can you also type in some of the things that you saw in your partner’s garden? I’m sure you know what you have noticed in yours, but from your partner’s garden? N 






Embodied wisdom wow, how do you see that in the soul garden?  




Yeah, umbrella, mosquitoes. mosquitoes in your soul garden? I would love to know the background story of that one.  


But now I’d like to go back to, I agree, we are so weird and that is great.  


Okay, so we learned about some things just by looking at what they choose what your partner chooses to share in their soul garden, wasn’t that interesting? But also, we have to be curious enough to learn not to just to share our garden, but this one was about learning about your partner’s garden. 


Hopefully you found something interesting now we are going to use the skill that we have gathered in the beginning of the session, the improv drawing remember? 


So, we’re going to go back into the same room, but this time you’re going to have five minutes, and you will work with your partner to create a soul garden, that two souls, or maybe you have three in your room will enjoy. When you start your improv story you’re actually going to start with your partners preference, so if my partner said, I have a lot of mosquitoes, and there was a reason why there were mosquitos, you probably want to start with:  


Our soul garden, that our souls will live, will have a water pool that we can bred mosquitoes. Whatever right, so it shows that you listen to your partner and you’re creating something not for yourself before your partner, her or his soul to live in, this communal soul garden. 


And you will draw while you’re talking so at the end when you’re done, you will share your drawings with each other and then see how your community garden that you have created together, we’ll look in each other’s eyes.  


But you’re not going to share the drawing until you’re done with a story. 


So now we’re going to go back into the breakout room for five minutes and you’ll work with your partner or partners to create a soul garden, that you will start with the improv drawing but remember your story has to do with your partner’s needs. 




Five minutes. 





Lee Kim 


Alright, so in my session we were abruptly back into this, so we weren’t able to share everything for maybe me everybody can just hold their collective soul garden to see it all lots of trees yeah, beautiful Thank you so much. 


So, how does this one relate to design thinking? I hope he recognized that the core of design thinking or human centered design is empathy. 


And sometimes empathy comes through stories that we know. The lives that we had, but sometimes going into something that we don’t see such as soul could also lead us into looking into our partners lives, strangers’ lives, but it also come with curiosity. 


And when we create something, together we are often putting our messaging but it’s actually more beautiful and fun, if you think about your partner’s needs and why the stories behind it, because the open door, it’s not just an open door when you know the story behind it.  


The fountain is not just the fountain when you know the story behind it. 


The waterfall is not just a waterfall when you know the story behind it.  


So, today’s session was designed so that we can go deep within ourselves and open our minds and eyes into the curiosity and then actually discover something a lot more amazing than when we just focus on ourselves. 


So with that, I would like to conclude soul garden and everybody’s soul garden was amazing if there is a way for us to collect all the soul gardens that will be amazing too. 


So thank you so much. 


Laura Murphy 


Thank you yay. 


Niesha Ford 


Thank you, this was great I hope you all had a really great time and I know we have two minutes, but if anyone has any like quick question for Lee while she’s here like feel free to ask it and yeah  


Thank you all so much for coming. 


Rebecca Otten 


Thank you, Niesha. I’m going to drop a few links in the chat as folks are saying thank you so um so that you know where the materials are going to be and how to join us for our next DT breakfast. 


Laura Murphy 


This was fun, thank you. 


Lee Kim 


Thank you, thank you kind. 

About Design Thinking Breakfast

  • Design Thinking Breakfast is a series of casual events that will be moving to an online format until further notice … and breakfasts will be BYOC – ‘Bring your own coffee’.
  • The goal is to learn from each other. The format will evolve as we learn, together, what might be most valuable (and enjoyable!) to us all. Breakfasts will include both time to mingle and one or two quick activities to foster knowledge-sharing or community-building.
  • The DT breakfasts are open to all. No DT experience is required.
  • Come with an open heart and mind and prepare to learn and share with others in the local, regional, and international DT community.
  • Please invite anyone who would enjoy both sharing with and learning from other practitioners and educators in the greater New Orleans area, the Gulf South, and connecting with other people in the local, regional and international design thinking community.
  • When: One Friday each month.
  • Cost: Free
  • Contact:
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