Just the abstract

D R A F T

New version coming soon!

Design lives in the world, on the street, in the neighborhood. The designer can introduce neighbors who have never met and can create a new way of framing a community idea. Through her craft, a designer can offer community members a way to relate to shared ideas in new ways. My work as a designer is integrated with my work as a citizen. Continue reading

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Exchange studies: type sketch, updated abstract

latest abstract draft………………………………….

Activating Exchange: Initiation, Connection, & Social-Engagement
This thesis uses the tools of the citizen/designer to initiate systems of exchange that strengthen active community engagement.
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A new point of exchange on the street in Boston: The Stranger Exchange

The Stranger Exchange in Boston is the latest urban trade system I’ve come across. There is an online component for leavers and takers to annotate their gifts to the system or other thoughts.

by John Wilson and Chris Maggio

Nice article here.

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CALL AND RESPONSE: The First Things First Manifesto, 1964, 2000

In the fall semester, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at into historical precedent for design for social causes. I am trying to learn the sides of the discourse for prominent social design moments like the First Things First Manifesto 2000, published in Emigre 51. It was a renewal of the original First Things First from 1964 by Ken Garland, but its signers and the way it was received was quite different from the original. [For more on the original, see Rick Poynor's First Things First Revisited.]

Some have argued that there are names on the 2000 manifesto that surprise. Did they read the document before they signed it?

Michael Rock suggests in “Save Yourself” that among the signers, there were, “many with questionable social credentials.” In his response, he goes through the argument of the article that accompanied the manifesto, “Saving Advertising.” He refutes the assessment of the state of things presented and he questions the suggested responses. It’s a good read.

And I can’t say I disagree with the way he is responding to the well-meaning, but shallow-rooted attempts to do good things with our tools. It seems like everything is reminding me to know the history of the things that pique my interest. There are few new ideas. We may be new to the ideas, but they are not new to the world.

I’ve been looking through magazines from that time, Eye and Print so far, and have been unable to find other critiques of the FTF2000 manifesto.

If you know where to find letters to the editor or other responses, can you send those along please? Thanks.

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The intro to Rock’s essay “Save Yourself” is not shy…

“Sanctimony hit an all time high with the re-release of the First Things First manifesto in 1999. The public promise to stop being bad and start being good was quickly endorsed by all manner of advocates, many with questionable social credentials. Émigré published both the manifesto and a plaintive call for “Saving Advertising.” Were so many really convinced of their own diabolical leanings?

Save yourself.

If there was any worry that our vast design industry stockpiles of political naivete were dwindling, one need look no further than Émigré #53 for reassurance of their inexhaustible abundance. The feature article, Saving Advertising, coupled with the continuing responses to First Things First manifesto, stand as testimony to the ascendancy of over-simplification and the decline of nuance.”

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Thesis abstract 1.1

Initiating Exchange  v.1.1

This thesis is a series of experiments into the ways that designers can initiate exchange that strengthens communities.

Design lives in the world, on the street, in the neighborhood. This body of work tests the idea that a designer can be accountable to her audience on the street. Through her craft, a designer can offer community members a way to relate to shared ideas in new ways. The designer can introduce neighbors who have never met and can create a new way of framing a community idea. My work as a designer is integrated with my work as a citizen.

Most graphic design for community causes is well-meaning. And ugly. It is often unreadable and unappealing by the highest standards of graphic design. And sometimes well-meaning graphic designers exploit the people they started out trying to help. The clients of this work do not have a system for rejecting the work. It is not aesthetically accountable to anyone in particular. So, can design intended for non-designers still be beautiful, relevant, transformative?

In the business world, design is used to question how we build businesses, how we buy products, how we interact with the built environment. In the community, a designer can use her tools to question the way we relate to one another and can suggest new modes of doing so. Designers can initiate an exchange of ideas where there was not such an exchange before. We can use communication to question existing power structures or to suggest alternate ones. We can disarm traditional stereotypes and empower, rather than exploit, community members.

With one foot in the studio and the other in the daily life of Providence, this thesis was made to explore ways to serve the common good using the tools of graphic design in partnership with local communities. Design can be a kind of activism, but it is also a way of being active in a community. My interest is in exploring and defining the role of designer as local citizen.

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Initiating exchange in the classroom

In my Type Elective class, I started an online place to exchange ideas about type. Students share their own work and typographic examples that relate to our classwork.

From the ABOUT section:

The blog is a project compiled by members of the Wintersession Typography Elective class at the Rhode Island School of Design. This class is an introduction to typography for students who will not be able to take other type classes. The 2010 class started this blog and consists of industrial designers, illustrators, flimmakers, a photographer, an interior architect, and a furniture designer.

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Developing an abstract, or, an invitation to exchange about exchange

My working abstract follows.
Any comments or feedback greatly appreciated.

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Graphic Design and the Art of Exchange

Graphic design is most often made at a desk, in a studio, inside a creative oasis. But many of its final outcomes live in the world, on the street, in a neighborhood. So, can graphic design aimed at serving the common good be accountable to its recipients? How can it be judged as successful if it’s not selling a product that can be counted? Can graphic design give community members a way to relate to shared ideas in new ways? Can it help people meet their neighbors, get to know one another? Can graphic design create a new way of framing a community idea?

Most graphic design for social causes is well-meaning. And ugly. It is often unreadable and unappealing by the highest standards of graphic design. The clients of this work do not have a system for rejecting the work. It is not aesthetically accountable to anyone in particular. So, can design intended for non-designers still be beautiful, relevant, transformative?

In the business world, design is used to question how we build businesses, how we buy products, how we interact with the built environment. Can graphic design also question the way we relate to one another, to our neighbors? Can graphic design initiate an exchange of ideas where there was not such an exchange before? Can design question existing power structures or suggest alternate ones? Can it disarm traditional stereotypes? Can graphic design empower, rather than exploit, the people involved? Can graphic design help people who need or want help?

With one foot in the studio and the other in the daily life of Providence, this thesis was made to explore ways to serve the common good with graphic design while working in partnership with local communities. Design can be a kind of activism, but it is also a way of being active in a community. My interest is in exploring and defining the role of designer as local citizen.

This thesis asks how one designer can use graphic design to initiate exchange and dialogue that strengthens communities.

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