Tell us a little bit about your role at Causeway and your 1TABLE Event.
I am the Director of Creative Engagement at Causeway, so my role is to.. find creative ways to engage people. I do that through traditional graphic design and communications, but also through some human-centered design practices.
1TABLE is our annual city-wide Thanksgiving potluck in the middle of Martin Luther King Boulevard. We started it in 2014, taking note of the disparity between the people who hung out in Miller Park, and the people who hung out in Miller Plaza on the other side of the street. We decided to invite both groups, and the broader communities that they represent, to share a meal. It’s grown a ton. The first year we had 700 people show up, and last year 1,500 people joined us. It was covered in the Washington Post, and three other cities replicated it.
I love 1TABLE because it is the only place that you see everyone from CEOs to the homeless, high school students to retirees, suburban moms to hipster artists, all sitting down and sharing a meal as equals, if only for a moment.
What has been your biggest challenge of 2017. Did you conquer it? Or still working on it?
We opened Bingo’s Market, which is a collaboration between Causeway, The Enterprise Center, The YMCA, and Patten Towers. You can read more about the motivation behind that project here. Part of my job was to appeal to two very different audiences: People who live in Patten Towers, with an average age of about 55, who live below the poverty line, and have a mental or physical disability. And people who work in the Innovation District, who tend to be well-educated, middle or upper class, with ages varying from 20 - 70.
I had the pleasure of collaborating with the talented Aggie Toppins on the branding for the store. We decided to call it Bingo’s Market as a nod to the early stages of that project where we built relationships with the residents of Patten Towers through playing Bingo. We made time to do a lot of research to figure out which message resonated with both groups. We found that people were attracted to a very inclusive message, versus one that simply highlights the items in the store, or one that frames shopping there as some sort of “good deed”. The tagline for the store is “Bingo’s Market: Where Everyone Wins”. So far it is going really well! The store is open for a six month pilot, and we hope to get it to a financially sustainable point in that timeframe so it can keep going.
Have you learned a new design skill?
Right now I am learning the art of delegating. I freelanced for a bit, and for my first couple years at Causeway I was the only creative…so I was used to completing all aspects of a project on my own. As Causeway has taken on more work, and now that I have a killer Design Intern and Communications Coordinator (and several other very helpful teammates), I am learning how to pass off tasks with the right level of creative control that is neither micromanaging nor completely stepping away from a project.
Best design advice you’ve ever been given or would give?
One of the biggest post-grad adjustments is that you lose your built-in feedback circle. I was really worried about that when I took an in-house position, but a lot of my mentors encouraged me to build alternative ways of getting feedback. I am often sending in-progress work back and forth with people I went to school with, who are also lone wolves. It’s also been nice to see how helpful my coworkers can be when it comes to feedback, even though they are not designers. Afterall, you are designing things for all kinds of people…their thoughts matter too.
If not a designer, what would you be?
I have about a million dreams, which is part of why I love being a designer. You get to engage with so many different industries through design. In an alternative life, I would be a bookstore owner, or a painter, or a writer, or a florist, or a potter, or a psychologist, or a private investigator, or a professional kayaker, or a truck driver, or a park ranger….. to name a few.
Favorite podcast right now?
I love Heavyweight! Each episode is about a person revisiting a situation in their past that changed the trajectory of their life in some way. It is personal, witty, and story-oriented. On a completely different note, I also enjoy My Favorite Murder.