I happened to stumble upon an article on the SF Chronicle’s website about a design student who has been developing a coat that can transform into a sleeping bag. Veronika Scott, 22, initially designed the coat as part of a project at the Detroit-based College for Creative Studies. After various prototypes–and $2,000 of her own money–she finalized her design: Element S (for survival). During the day, the coat functions just like any other coat. But at night, it can be converted into a sleeping bag in order to help protect the user from inclement weather.
Scott has been further refining the coat design, which utilizes low-cost materials such as Tyvek insulation and wool. Major companies, such as 3M and Dupont, have expressed interest in helping out her cause. Scott plans to sell the coats for a profit to people that are currently housed, and then use those proceeds to offer the coats for free to those living on the streets.
This type of innovation and dedication is exactly what we need if we are seeking to put an end to homelessness. It is encouraging to know that there are people like Veronika who will go great lengths to help those in need. And while it is unlikely that a single product will end homelessness, there is no doubt that Element S will make a positive impact on our country’s most vulnerable. Perhaps in a few years we’ll have the luxury of handing out these coats to some of our clients as we all know how cold and wet it can get during Berkeley winters.