From Thought to Action; REdesign & REbuild
In June 2015 Baltimore City residents were still reeling from the death of Freddie Gray, a 25 year old black man murdered by police officers during an arrest two months earlier.
That tumultuous summer month also marked my first event, titled REdesign & REbuild, as the newly appointed Programming Chair of AIGA Baltimore. I put out an open call for all designers, artists, and creatives to join us for a conversation around collaborative solutions for small businesses directly affected by the unrest. I was looking for community members and AIGA-affiliated designers in Baltimore. It was a little off the beaten path as far as AIGA Baltimore events went. But I knew that if I was going to do an event in that social climate, I could not afford to not focus my efforts on anything but this.
I put out an open call for all designers, artists, and creatives to join us for a conversation around collaborative solutions for small businesses directly affected by the unrest.
Months went by with no funding, and I faced a steep learning curve as this was my first experience with community work on this scale. I wanted to be sure that every move was intentional, and many projects were ruled out for various reasons including cost and effectiveness.
It was during a conversation with Kerry Korrer, then Social Design Chair and Board Operations Director Leo Brady both of AIGA Baltimore that we decided we’d partner with Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) to find an appropriate partner already doing amazing work, instead of creating a new effort.
This relationship marked the first time that the two organizations would work together, and we got right to work. We were soon partnered with the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation (DHCDC). They were in need of a rebrand and we were happy to help. We met with Anthony Pressley and Roscoe Johnson, as well as Laura Wheaton, a Program Manager from NDC to plan DHCDC’s new direction.
Starting in November 2015, Kerry, Leo, and I began attending community meetings where we listened to feedback from the community on what they’d like to see in the rebrand. We took their invaluable ideas, and, now that our scope of work was narrowed, we put out another more pointed call for designers in the spring of 2016.
This collaboration between the community and local designers all started with one event and a ton of fear, and we owe our success to persistence and community involvement.
It was during this time that Leo and I went to the Baltimore City Archives and did research on the Druid Heights neighborhood. We also had more intimate meetings with community members like Loretta Gartner who explained what they’d like to see in their community space. With NDC’s help we organized four volunteers with whom we met weekly over the summer: Tiffany Small, Baird Clinkscales, Rebecca Kowalczik, and Tarbia Minto.
As the DHCDC focused on summer programming, the logo work was placed on a short hiatus. In October 2016 Leo Brady reconvened the team which was narrowed down to designers Tarbia Minto and Rebecca Kowalczik, AIGA Baltimore’s Vice President Joseph Brown, and me. In the end, the board chose Tarbia’s design, because they felt the friendly colorful design represented exactly what DHCDC was to the Druid Heights neighborhood. We presented them with the rebranded work as well as logo files, fonts, branded colors, and a brand guide that instructs them how to use the work in print and web media. We wound up doing close to 200 hours of volunteering for this project. The DHCDC will be unveiling their new logo and touring the neighborhood on June 24, 2017. Tarbia’s logo is featured prominently on the website, print collateral, and in house stationery and letterhead. This collaboration between the community and local designers all started with one event and a ton of fear, and we owe our success to persistence and community involvement.