Morgantown, West Virginia March 23-24, 2012
Amazing. This conference was about community action across lines of difference. What is the action? What kind of design fits? What are the differences and how big is the gap in between them?
The first presenter was Bob Stains. He presented the Public Conversation Project: http://www.publicconversations.org/. They invite civic, academic, and religious leaders to sit down together and have a discussion on their views (that include sexual orientation, religion, abortion, gender, social class and race.) in order to gain a clearer understanding of the opposing side. Just the idea of sitting down with someone who has an opposing view to discuss your views is the first step , I think, to get a better understanding of issues. Or to shed light on a different perspective. Agreement might never be reached on issues but this model provides an avenue for better understanding multiple perspectives.
Later in the day my favorite poster designer, Yossi Lemel, talked about simplifying ideas. His poster designs are simple but powerful. (Below are images from his presentation of his work.)
I also had the pleasure of being in a group with Yossi in our afternoon workshops. The workshop was NEIGHBORBRIDGEGAP (http://neighborgapbridge.com/). Patty and Michele, from Otis College of Art and Design, were our facilitators. We began the workshop by forcing connections between our hometowns and Morgantown as well as between each other. We had to find imagery from our hometown to exchange with another person who we didn’t know. Then we chose a sheet of paper that had an image that represented Morgantown. We overlaid the two images and drew their outline. Even though its upside down this is the result: A Squipt. Through this exercise I met Jason Goupil who grew up in Buffalo New York (Haha! a bridge was built), who currently teaches at Kent State and recently finished his Masters degree.
The next exercise was to team up and crash an engineering lecture. Jason, Heidi and myself met Rusty who was a hybrid engineering and urban planner. He also dabbled in ceramics. (Bridge made! Consequently he came to the afternoon session of our conference!)
Both exercises made me interact with other people and got us out of the classroom into the community. Which led me to think: How can I fit this into 102? 150? The pure act of getting out of the classroom and going to a location to collect data was amazing. Something that I think would be great for idea generation.
A few other random notes: Butterfly effect, nothing is by chance. The reason this communication worked is because we gave people dignity. Direct honest communication. Nothing to gain other than listening. Be open and hear each other and give equity to another person, this might solve a lot of issues.
Lindsay Kinkade was another speaker who emphasized empathy with the notion of getting out and over yourself in designing. She asked a number of questions which I think bear repeating: Does work relate to a location? Is it designed for non-designers? Are we falling into stereotypes? How to judge success?
Cassie Hester was a genius with typography and interaction – Cassiehester.com
J. Ford Huffman – Simplify! was the main message I took away from his lecture. As his handout says – when in doubt, don’t try to be clever. Another great resource he offered was visual.ly/create.com. A website where you can find imagery. Another way to simplify Huffman suggests is to crop.
A few odds and ends
BOOK- Design is the problem
My thoughts? I need a few days to reflect on this, stay tuned for more bits.