This past weekend I participated in AIGA's Design for Good Weekend Blitz. It's a brilliant concept: designers, illustrators, copywriters, web developers, and more volunteer their weekend, and AIGA West Michigan pairs them up with a local non profit that needs some design work to reach their goals. The result: a bunch of creative people working, learning, hanging out, and helping the community!

It was an incredible experience, and I wanted to write a little about some of the highlights!

1. Our organization: STEM Greenhouse

Our team was tasked with developing a brand, basic messaging, advertising pieces and website for STEM Greenhouse, a non profit founded by Dr. Keli Cristopher, who we all fell in love with immediately. The third black woman in the world to get a Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering, Dr. Christopher's unique experience has given her a passion for fighting the inequality in STEM education among underprivileged kids, minorities, and girls. This passion and her desire to nurture the talents of young children and help them reach their potential is what drives STEM Greenhouse, and what inspired us as we worked to develop the graphic pieces that would best reflect it.

2. My team

Team STEM photo

Like every person at Weekend Blitz, I had the best team. I felt we functioned really well together, and seamlessly combined our skill sets to efficiently develop the brand for STEM Greenhouse. Sarah led our team with her natural confidence, love of people and valuable experience as a designer and events coordinator. Mandy, who has an infectious excitement and impressive knowledge of all thing design, brought the brand together with her exquisite skill and clean style. Molly, a gifted and prolific writer and designer, tackled the website narrowed down the messaging with Justin, who as our only illustrator offered a unique perspective, lots of copy work, and moments such as this:

Copy monkey

Lisa and Lin from Square One Design were our advisers and provided invaluable insight and a helpful outside perspective when we were stuck in our own heads. 

3. Being surrounded by pure talent and creativity

It is invigorating to spend 30+ hours hearing smart people talk about their projects and seeing the beautiful results of talent, hard work and genius. As a one-woman studio, I thoroughly enjoyed sharing experiences with people who do what I do, and people from different creative fields... hearing web developers talk in a language with which I am only vaguely familiar, watching Justin whip up complex illustrations light years beyond my doodles, watching different group's communication plans come together... I have so much to learn, and I learned a little bit of it this Weekend Blitz.

4. The food

We were spoiled by our organizations and AIGA's sponsors, and I personally expanded my list of must-haves in Grand Rapids. Our creative processes were fueled by copious amounts of scones from Nantucket Baking Company, Granola Goddess (which I pretty much ate all day in between meals), Jimmy John's, the new to GR D'Arts Donuts (the maple bacon changed my life), an impressive spread from Tacos El Cuñado (including the largest bowl of guacamole I have ever seen), Big O' Cafe pizza, Bags of sweet and cheesy goodness from Dorothy & Tony's Popcorn, and the daily happy hour from Brewery Vivant, during which we presented our progress. Snacks were abundant, breaks to go grab more wonderful unnecessary calories were frequent, and general productivity and awakeness was powered by COFFEE courtesy of Ferris.


5. The amazing organizations

It was both humbling so encouraging to hear about so many organizations that are serving others. There is something amazing about people who have the dream to enact change in their world, and then the drive to see it done. When I want to "do good", I think "Where can I volunteer?". These people... they actually re-organize their entire lives and start an organization, start a movement. 

6. The idea behind Design for Good

It's just such an amazing idea, brought about and organized by people like Kimberly Wolting with a huge heart for helping the community and doing good. This was my first real contact with the people at AIGA West Michigan, and I was so impressed. Design for Good was fun, new, inspiring, interactive, and I left tired but also re-energized to, as Kimberly repeatedly told us "Go forth and do good."