Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just a little more work for SPEC

They were in need of a last-minute cover for their annual report. I tossed this together for them.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Working with SPEC still!

I've been doing a bit more work with SPEC, completing a series of posters and fliers we worked on this summer. Above is the invite to their Solar Workshops Series, and below is the harvest Festival poster.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Self Evaluation

The Millennium Foundation asks that grant recipients write a project evaluation once they've completed their work. I've been holding off a bit, continuing to do odds and ends for a few more people- but I think that this will continue for a while. So, with no further ado, here's what I thought about the project:

Rachel Grows: community development through urban agriculture

Were you true to your original vision? What did you have to modify and what happened that was unexpected?

My original vision for the project allowed for some wiggle room in the direction it too. This allowed me to adapt to the results of my research and networking. What I heard and saw was a need for community gardens to develop a stronger online presence, for several reasons:

-The healthy and varied urban agriculture community in Vancouver was not unified in any consistent way. The Internet is the ideal venue for creating these connections, because it allows for maximum communication with minimum time input.
-I noticed a clear and significant lack of youth participation. Since one of the primary ways youth find information is online, it was important to develop that platform.
-Community gardens struggle to be taken seriously and heard by local government. Adding a degree of professionalism to their online presence, and identity (eg. their logo, typeface etc.) was an efficient way to professionalize their image.

For these reasons, I chose to focus on a few groups for the bulk of my graphic and web work. I developed a logo and blog site for the Vancouver Urban Agriculture Network, a policy group which aims to represent urban agriculture interests in local government. I created blogs for several groups, helped the Environmental Youth Alliance update their website and link to other groups that I worked with, and I helped the Society for Promotion of Environmental Conservation develop logo illustrations for several of their working groups. I also developed posters for a series of their urban ag. workshops, some of which were family/ child targeted and educational. The project and completed work is documented in full at

Has this experience had an impact on your future choices professionally or academically? Did you make new connections that you hope to sustain?

Through this project, i developed a strong link with the Vancouver community, which had previously remained underdeveloped. While I have been living in the city for 2 years, and volunteer regularly at several locations, this project allowed me to branch out and flesh out these relationships.

This project was also something of an epiphany for me, for my academic direction and potentially my thesis project. While working on this, I was also exhibiting work in conjunction with Architecture for Humanity Vancouver, on the subject of small, environmentally sustainable and financially viable housing. The central theme of self-sustaining lifestyles for this and Rachel Grows is something that seems to characterize much of my work, and I believe that it will continue to do so. I'm considering presenting the findings of these projects, but need to finalize the research still.

What skills did you develop or build upon through the course of your work?

Skill development for this project was both widely varied and indepth. It started of course with the basic skills involved in urban agriculture- cultivating food, weeding, watering, identifying plants, and progressed into explorations of volunteer and time management. There was also the aspect of client work- developing posters and promotional materials for events etc.

There was also of course the realm of technology for this project, which was a completely different set of skills to work on. I learned an enormous amount about viral and online grassroots promotion. I learned about tools I can use online to self-manage, to inform people, and to help independent groups promote themselves. I improved my web and graphic design skills a lot.

All of these skills were built on a foundation of research- I learned about how to find information online and offline, how to reach people quickly and efficiently (a major hurdle in volunteer/ community work) and I learned that different people use different methods to communicate. Each of these methods has a very different time frame, so learning to coordinate all of them was another skill I had to use.

Oh, and I learned how to take care of chickens.

What have you learned about yourself through this experience?

I have learned that I am impatient, have a singular perspective, and that I'm a workaholic.

I have also learned that I am persistent, willing to be open minded, and have a giant pool of great friends to help me bear the load.

What have you learned about community engagement through this experience?

I mentioned this already- but really understanding that there are a wide variety of different people to work with- and this means that they communicate in very different ways. I found it frustrating at first to try to reach people who don't focus on online methods- using the phone and meeting in person was always much more time consuming than firing off an email. Once I did, however, I found that there was a lot to be learned by working in this way. And of course, the more diverse a network, the stronger the community.

That said, community work is incredibly time consuming. I learned an enormous amount about group time management that will take me far with this work in the future.

How will you draw upon the experience in your future endeavors?

Working with Urban Agriculture has been a pursuit of 2 years, thus far. My major interests lie in communication, engagement and reaching people in empowering ways. I've learned a lot about these things in the context of Urban Ag, but I want to continue applying the same principles to other community development work. The internet is a powerhouse of two way and broadcasting communicative tools, the applications of which we have only scratched the surface on. I believe that the key to a global community lies in the borderless lands of the online.

What have you learned about teamwork through this experience?

Though this was an individual project, I wanted to mention that there were a lot of wonderful people helping out during the month of May for me. Jerome came and took pictures of my chicken adventures for the blog, and Ben came one morning to help me take care of them. And of course, there were all the incredible friends involved with my other projects at this time. (The myhomeyourhome project was having its' big gallery show this month, and I might have imploded without everyones' amazing help.) Thanks guys!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Posters up!

I'm planning to brighten up these images, but I was excited to share.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Where are they now: updates!

I just took a peek at the EYA Blog and they've been using it like crazy! They have loads of pretty images up and lots of relevant articles. It looks beautiful and I'm so happy to see it being put to excellent use. Check it out!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Completed work: links

For this project, I didn't just design images for community gardens. I worked to better integrate them into the online community, increasing visibility and the likelihood that they would draw youth in.

Here are a couple of the blogs I created for urban agriculture related groups:



I also arranged a link exchange between many urban ag groups- you can see the full list on the VUAN blog, above. Other tools I used to improve visibility included creating facebook groups (like this one for VUAN), and cross promoting by getting links to different sites onto related sites. This is how I managed to get VUAN to show up on a google search.

More completed work

These are smaller, less contrasty versions of the incredibly sexy poster series I designed for SPEC's workshop series. I'll post some sexier ones in my portfolio soon.