A few months ago, Noah Flower, a brilliant network weaver, put me in touch with Julie Sherman, founder of J Sherman Studio, a small design firm in Newton, MA. Noah thought Julie and her team might be interested in the work of The Enliven Project, and that The Enliven Project might be interested in their creative minds and design skill set. It turned out he was right.
Julie and I hit it off right away, and dove into a conversation about sexual violence, movements, and ways in which we can all align our work more closely with our values and passions. While our lives look very different on the outside, Julie and I are both moms balancing paid work with volunteer work, parenthood with professional lives, not to mention households, partners, and friends. But at the core, we are committed to using our skills and talents in a meaningful way – particularly when it comes to shedding light on stigmatized issues, and other social and community challenges that prevent us from living our best lives.
That first conversation led to an exciting partnership that we’ll be launching in early September with a pair of conversation graphics about the prevalence of sexual violence. But more importantly a deeper dialogue centered on the following questions:
- How can designers make their work more mission-focused?
- How can good design support and expand a movement and a field?
Out of this conversation, The Enliven Project and J Sherman Studio developed the concept for The Enliven Project Design Council, with J Sherman Studio as the founding member. The Design Council is a way for designers to connect mission to movement around the issue of sexual violence that goes beyond traditional pro-bono work designing business cards and stationery. It’s a way for designers to engage substantively in the complex social and cultural issues related to sexual violence, and use their skills and talents in creative – and hopefully fun – ways to engage more allies in the anti-sexual violence movement.
The Design Council’s work is focused on the needs of the 1,100 small rape crisis centers across the country who spend their resources on services for survivors in need, with not much left over to support fundraising, marketing or communications.
The contributions of the Design Council will belong to the anti-sexual violence field rather than to a single organization. They will support the capacity of the field to engage in more awareness, prevention, and community engagement work locally, complementing the efforts of major national campaigns like NoMore, Move to End Violence, and initiatives of RAINN or Futures Without Violence. For example, to support distribution of the graphics to be released this fall, we’ve created an easy-to-use template. Any organization will be able to add their logo and customized text directly to the graphics and promote them or share them as they see fit.
We are excited to see how this effort can expand the ways designers think about contributing their talents to advance important social issues. And we’re also excited about how it might inspire other sectors or industries to lend their skills and expertise to bringing sexual violence out of the closet.
If you are a designer or design studio interested in contributing your skills and talents through The Enliven Project Design Council, please contact me. If you are an anti-sexual violence organization interested in informing or utilizing the content produced by the Council, sign up for email updates.