Outreach

Changing the Lives of Disabled Youth One Room at a Time

Meet Martha, the founder of a New York-based non profit organization called Blissful Bedrooms. Blissful bedrooms is a grassroots organization that takes remodeling to a whole new level of outreach—transforming bedrooms for the severely disabled young adult who by and large spend most of their time in their bedrooms.

Dorka Keehn's 'Binders Full of Women'

Dorka Keehn has a had a great year.  The national organization she co-founded, Emerge America—a major contributor to the growing numbers of Democratic women serving in public office—saw 17 out of 28 Emerge California alumnae in the San Francisco Bay Area win their November 2012 ballot race. That's a 61% success rate. Emerge America operates in 12 states nationwide, inspiring women to run for political office and then training them to run. All of these women are in good company.  A record 20 women will serve in the 100-member Senate, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI). And at least 81 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives will be women, among them Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) who will be the first openly gay U.S. Senator.

Ms. Keehn, who was also recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle to showcase the mid-century modern furniture she designed, was kind enough to give us few minutes of her precious time.  We called her last week to hear just what this election means to her.

Do you believe having more women in the U.S. Senate will facilitate true bipartisanship?

"I have two thoughts on that: One is, yes.  It’s already apparent that the women in the Senate have a better relationship with each other, that’s already happening.  They’re having dinner together, talking about policies.  They’re ironing out issues together. It’s not that I don’t think men can’t do that, I just think that it comes a little more naturally for women.  I don’t know whether or not it’s hardwired or nature vs. nurture but it’s just the way women work. [On second thought], not all women in the Senate are progressive and want to share ideas.  There are some women who are lousy candidates and have lousy values.  But around ObamaCare and healthcare some women come across the aisle. And you see that with healthcare, education, jobs and the environment."

What are the benefits of bipartisanship for both democrats and republicans, if any?

"It’s unfortunate that the Republican Party has really become an extreme party. They’d rather shoot themselves in the foot, than take care of voters and important issues like healthcare and education. And so I think that we have to move beyond [The Republican Party] trying to take the president down and actually solve the problems that are important to the entire country. What I’m hoping is going to happen is that the more women who come into the position of power—bring different questions to the table. I think it’s important to have a diversity of people at the table of discussion."

Let’s talk about you and Emerge’s success in 2012, and with last week's election.

"For me, it’s kind of like watching our kids grow. Emerge California is 12-years-old and is now in 12 states. We'd like to get a new state every year. We have an amazing staff and board. The organization is no longer dependent on me anymore and we have other incredible women working for us. During this election, it was kind of like watching our seeds flourish into flowers.

Women in office tend to start on the ground level so now we're finally seeing them move up into office and into Senate seats. And now it’s rolling on its own power. We are now being viewed as an organization that not only trains women to run for office but training women how to win—people who have a major impact."

You are the only organizations of its kind, correct?

"Emerge America is the only company that actually trains women with a comprehensive program. There are other weekend programs as such and they are sort of like our feeders. Our goal is to be in every state. As far as Ignite goes, we are the only program out there doing an after school program for young girls. We want to train 250,000 girls by 2015. We really want to get young women to think about running for office and that actually being a career choice after college. Not just when they’re older and have had children and then decide to be on the school board. (That’s how most women’s political careers begin.) We want to create political ambition at a young age. But it’s definitely never too late to create a significant shift within women of all ages."

I love that "binders full of women" has taken the media and social media by storm. How do you think we can build upon that in a positive, less sarcastic way?

"Well I think we do want to create binders full of women so we do have a lot of options. For example, when you look at who’s on TV and who’s on the senate floor, you’ll notice who is represented there and how few women and people of color there are. When people are looking for board of directors for fortune 500 companies they need to have binders full of women to choose from. Often times you’ll hear the excuse that, ‘We can’t find them.’ But where are they looking and who are they asking—a couple of their buddies? So if we provide them with binders full of women and give them more options to choose from, we’ll see more women in those roles. I think we should use that metaphor in a positive way!"

Emerge California is having its 2013 Kickoff Reception Saturday, December 01, 2012, 6:30 PM at One Ferry Plaza Restaurant & Lounge (behind the Ferry Building) here in San Francisco.  If you'd like to keep the momentum going, or would like to support Emerge, sign up here.

Changing the Face of Politics and Designing a Better World Through Intention

We’re taking a moment to celebrate history in light of "BEAUTY BRAINS BRAWN and Beyond." January 2013 will mark a monumental time in history when 20 women will hold seats in the U.S. Senate. Although our political institutions are still overwhelmingly male-dominated, this is a huge step in the right direction and a revolutionary moment for all people. We as male and female designers know that keeping balance is the key to inspiration and innovation for the common good.

This year's Clinton's Global Annual Initiative theme: "Designing For Impact," explored how the Initiative community can utilize their abundance of global capacity to invent better tools, build more effective interventions, and work creatively and collaboratively to design a future worth pursuing. Inspired by their theme, designedCOLLECTIVE panelists also spoke to the impact of design and their role of intention:

"It was always our intent to change the face of politics. But the idea wasn't only to change the face of politics and help women come into power, it was really about changing how we do business in this country. Because unless we have everyone at the table, we’re not coming up with the solutions we really need. If we don’t have all the great brains—that is men, women, people of color—together coming up with a solution, we're not going to make it. And it's not [just] the planet, it's humanity," Dorka Keehn of Emerge America and Ignite explained.

Emerge America identifies, trains and encourages women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office. They currently run their programs in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin. Ignite however, much like Emerge also serves women yet focuses on those between the ages of 14-22 in lower income communities.

Studies have shown that women just don’t run for office at the same rates as men—despite competence levels. And why aren't women running as often? Because most women aren't encouraged to.

"Our model brings the program to any community that wants it, then within that community, builds a cadre of young women who first become civically engaged, then become civic leaders, and ultimately pursue elective office,” Anne Moss, founder of Ignite said.

To hear more about Emerge and listen to what Dorka had to say during the designedCOLLECTIVE, click here:

More Than Me, Katie Meyler's brainchild, also focuses on little girls and takes them off of the street in Liberia, West Africa and into school. They provide tuition, school supplies and uniforms for their students—creating a strong foundation of empowerment for growth.

"I grew up really poor... but there were always people who loved me and believed in me. Because people believed in me, I wanted to pay it forward and believe in others. When I’m with the girls I’m intentional about showing them that they have a purpose, that they are loved and that they are beautiful," Katie said during the discussion.

According to More Than Me, when a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. An extra year of primary school boosts girls' eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent. When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man. When we invest in girls — we all win. Our communities are stronger. Our families are healthier. -And, our collective future is brighter.

Katie's passion for service is evident from our designedCOLLECTIVE conversation. Click here to see her speak:

Intention and service emerged as predominant themes during this year's designedCOLLECTIVE.

"The intention for the kids was for them to feel their beauty and power." That's Laura Guido-Clark, founder of Project Color Corps. "The intention was to [create value]. When you come from a sense of lack and you don’t have something that mirrors who you are on the inside, [We wanted] to create the beauty that I saw in each and everyone of them—externally. We call it Optical Optimism!"

Laura is referring to the students at E.C. Reems academy—one of the projects that has transformed the life of young children through color. Using color as a change agent is their motto. Project Color Corps passionately committed to its first large-scale pilot project at the E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts in Oakland, CA where they painted the school’s exterior with a color palette and pattern, creating a hopeful environment that reflects the unique voice of the school community. Laura's message is clearly and passionately displayed during our discussion:

-And that's how it comes full circle, because everyone has worth. Each woman and their organizations focus on the story of each child or emerging woman. All of their stories are told through different vehicles of intention and expression. Education, empowerment and color are all agents of change. When you come from a home, a school, or a room that is designed with intention and love, you embody love. When you have a workplace that represents you both through spirit and demographic, you thrive. Within the right environment we can come up with ideas and innovative solutions that make this nation and world a magnificent place to live.

Madeline Kunin, former Governor and US Ambassador said that "while pessimists are usually right, it's optimists that change the world!"- With Optical Optimisim we can start a revolution of ideas and spread beauty wherever we go. After all, it's up to us to design a world in which we want to live.

 

 

Revisiting Project Color Corps and E.C. Reems Academy

Back in March (wow, was it really that long ago?) we got the chance to interview Laura Guido-Clark, a designer whose passion is to make the human response to products more meaningful through color, material, finish and pattern. Through her trademarked process, Climatology, she researches and tracks relevant changes on the social, political, economic and emotional fronts.

During the time of the interview, Project Color Coprs and E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts was in the the fundraising and deisgn process of a color transformation. Though the school itself was full of vivid imagination, joy and pride—demonstrated in the afirmations stated every morning by their Principle, Lisa Blair and her students—the outside appearance of their building fell short. And it failed to run parallel with the bounty of inspiring elements the elementary school had to offer.

When I spoke with Mrs. Minna, a staff member at E.C. Reems, a week ago and asked how the transformation affected her students, she brimmed with joy over the phone telling me that they were so proud. Mostly since her students and the surrounding community were, from the beginning, an integral part of the color selection, design and process. I asked Laura the same question on Wednesday, and she delightfully directed me to a video they put out on the web yesterday. It expresses the outcome of the project most appropriately.

http://vimeo.com/51629593

I should explain to you that the E.C. Reems Academy is a K-8 extended elementary charter school located in East Oakland—said to be one of California’s most at-risk and disadvantaged communities. At this school, their guiding principles is: “Encouraging creativity to bring forth new ideas and achieve higher levels of living.”

Lisa Blair told Project Color Corps that, "the school [was] visually depressing, with layers of peeling paint on a dull exterior. Our community is very drab. The colors are mostly tans and browns—like prison colors. This is the world our children live in: one with no vibrancy, no direction, no enthusiasm, and very little hope. If you’re sent from a home in disrepair to a school in the same condition, the message is ‘You are not worth anything. There is no place for you in this society and no one cares.’ But if the opposite occurs, if our kids were to walk into a school that is inviting and bright, the message becomes, ‘Come in, dream big. It’s your world, not ours!”

Fast forward to today, “Imagine the excitement the students will feel when they step into a fresh and new environment in September 2012! You have our support and gratitude for allowing us to be a part of something so extraordinary and yet so ordinary as adding color to a world that is more often than not, shades of gray. I hope our community will grow from this experience and use color to form their attitudes and desire to experience life at its fullest. Thank you for caring about people and communities. Our facility is your canvas.” – Principal Blair

And it's with great honor that we will have Laura Guido-Clark as one of our guest during LOCZIdesign's Third Annual designedCOLLECTIVE on October 24th at 44 Tehama St, in SF, speaking on behalf of Project Color Corps and her envisions. The night is no doubt going to be an innovatively star-studded event with a panel of discussion, and food for creative thought. We will be celebrating women who are changing the world through design. So come and join us, or click here to check out more information about our benefit and Project Color Corp's color transformation story!

Igniting Politics Within Young Women

This past Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day and it got me thinking about my impact as a voter, but also about my political upbringing. Growing up as a young woman of color in Baltimore, running for office wasn't necessarily a dream of mine. It didn't have much to do with my family—the support to be whomever I wanted to be was there. But open dialogue in my direct community pertaining to young women taking political action was not present. Several decades have passed since and we find ourselves in a privileged country that has changed the face of politics—literally. We live in a society where community organizations and progressive people are thinking of everyone, including young girls. People like Dorka Keehn, the award winning conceptual artist and social entrepreneur speaking at this year's designedCOLLECTIVE, are leading the way and told us about the organization Ignite.

Ignite was founded in 2009 to build young women’s political ambition and to train them to run for office. Studies have shown that women just don’t run for office at the same rates as men—despite competence levels. And why aren’t women running as often? Because most women aren’t encouraged to. It’s been visible throughout history that women under-value their qualifications.

“That’s the reason why I started Ignite” That's Anne Moses Founder & President of Ignite. “There are programs out there to support older women and established adults, but there isn't anything to the same degree for the youth. Ignite does just that: we implement a political training program, specifically tailored to the needs of young women [I should mention that we are nonpartisan]. Our model brings the program to any community that wants it, then within that community, builds a cadre of young women who first become civically engaged, then become civic leaders, and ultimately pursue elective office.”

Anne has 20+ years of experience in social justice organizations with a career spanning non-profit, political, policy, and academic sectors, and a focus on women’s and girls’ issues. Alongside an extensive consulting practice, Anne has served as Chief Operating Officer for Emerge America, Majority Council Director for EMILY’s List, and Executive Director of GirlSource. Anne is also adjunct faculty at Mills College in Oakland, CA. "We’re all about building up women who are under represented in their community. There isn’t any other organization that focuses on this age group and I'm happy to say that Ignite is doing really well. I’m just amazed by how well we’ve done in just these three years—we have been smart about our choices as an organization and I think that explains why. But we are currently looking for a third state for 2013 [we are currently have programs in Texas and California] so if anyone wants to lead the way for that, please let us know!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOzwTdCzHYQ&feature=relmfu

Ignite runs political and civic education and training programs that are delivered on site in California and Texas high schools, college campuses, and community organizations. They hire and train Ignite college students to deliver the program in high schools with an overall strategy across both efforts is to personalize the political in everything they do. —Motivating young women to take civic and political leadership in their own communities. Central to the Ignite model is introducing female candidates and elected officials to our participants, so they can learn first-hand what it is like to run for and hold elective office.

This past March, during their annual Ignite Conference, they featured a congressional speaker and a round-table lunch with over two dozen other female elected officials. This year they look forward to another conference this spring highlighting another exceptional speaker (who may or may not be someone well-know)! If you want to be involved in their conference, volunteer efforts, or would like to donate, click here.

Paige has long been interested in civic responsibility and leadership and was fortunate to attend Girl's State as a High School student. That helped set her course as an adult. Emerge is paving the way for more involvement and awareness and therefor shaping our political landscape. Next week, she will be one of many women attending this year's Emerge America's Trailblazer luncheon, inducing co-founders Dorka Keehn and Marya Stark into Emerge Leaders Circle. Honorary key-note will be conducted by former US Ambassador & Governor, Madeleine Kunin.

The Creative Vessel of the Human Spirit

"Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic." — Keith Haring

Defining your experience in the world may take different forms; strokes of bleeding watercolors, delightfully painful bike rides up the 101 coast, or maybe the basic state of speech reincarnated onto a word-filled page. We as designers recognize the weight of creativity in each of our individual lives but more importantly, within the intimate walls we dwell. Keith Haring was an extraordinary spirit who instinctively painted on walls, devoting his time to public works that carried social messages.

He composed more than 50 public artworks between 1982 and 1989, in cities around the world, many of which were created for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centers and orphanages.

At LOCZIdesign, art, if you will, is an integral connection between interior design, humanity and the adaptation of what it means to be alive. This week, we want to celebrate the human spirit of Haring, and others who's deeds pay homage to growth and progressive change.

The Universe of Keith Haring, a documentary suggested by a friend several weeks back, was a jumping point. I was lucky enough to follow-up my interest at the current Haring exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Haring's capacity for channeling vitality through his artwork is undeniable when viewing each piece. His desire to create an art-form for the people resonated with me as a collective human experience. The exhibit chronicles the period in his career from his beginnings in a rural Pennsylvania town to when he fully immersed himself in the avant guard downtown Manhattan culture. He quickly thrived in the artistic scene while innovating a different brand of urban art, experimenting with hundreds of canvases from walls, cars, naked bodies, clothes, to the homes of internationally respected artists.

"I don't think art is propaganda; it should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it." — Keith Haring

In light of last weekend's Pride Parade, AIDS/LifeCycle and AIDSwalk coming up in July, it's important to recognize the impact Haring has left on overall world culture — his messages are still clear today in his artwork. He used his artwork to bring awareness to issues of AIDS, racism, gay rights, South African apartheid, nuclear weapons, and literacy, among others. Keith Haring was an artist but also a social activist whose work was a response to the New York City street culture of the 1980s. Much like his idol and friend, Andy Warhol, Haring's use of bright colors, valiant lines and simple subject matters was hugely influential of the counter-culture of which he was a part.

Keith Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, it was then he established the Keith Haring Foundation to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programs, broadening his audience. Haring used his imagery during the waning years of his life to speak about his own illness and generate activism by expressing universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex, and war. Haring attracted a wide audience and assured the accessibility and staying power of his conceptual art that became a universally recognized visual language of the 20th century.

Today, there are a vast number of foundations and groups dedicated to ending the widespread suffering caused by AIDS. Much like Haring, the co-produced San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center organized the AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) foundation in hopes of raising awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS among participants, their donors, and the general public, stating that "They ride because—in the current economy—our agencies need these funds more than ever. Ultimately, we ride so that someday, we won’t have to."

We are honored to have a relationship with some of the people who have helped to raise 12.5 million dollars this year with ALC. Mike Ufferman, a newcomer to our LOCZIdesign tribe, not only will be racing in next year's event, but his partner, Bill Weatherford, took the time to speak to us this morning about his seven-day, 545 mile voyage from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Bill, who raised 8K alone and trained for six months before the journey, candidly explained his process,

"I didn’t love cycling. There were times where I would look at Mike and think, 'Oh my God, I have to get up in the morning and ride!?' But when I was at the finish line last year — working with one of the largest HIV health care advisors in the country — I was compelled to ride." — Bill Weatherford

Bill's intimate cycling team, Strangers No More, brought solace to him during the strenuous ride, even helping him endure a shoulder injury. "It was very interesting training as a team. People are tired and frustrated and are showing various emotional and physical highs and lows. I got dehydrated on day six of the ride. I was on the 90th mile of that day's ride [Apx 100 miles per day] and I was pushing very hard to get to a rest stop due to the pain in my left shoulder." But Bill was oblivious of his condition until attempting to ask for water, “'Hey, can I get some...', I couldn’t even talk." Bill continued. "My team caught up with me and the entire crew waited 45 minutes for me to rehydrate." Down the coast to the next camp, they all rode together, forming a protective band around him and his bike.

The ALC crew finished on June 9th all the way down the 101 coast, pushing their bodies and their minds to the finish line. If you'd like to join these men and women next year, click the following links for information regarding training and or volunteering. But if you want to take part of something happening in our city, check out AIDS Walk (on July 15th) and their information regarding how you can support the ongoing fight against AIDS and continue to honor and celebrate the collective human spirit!

 

 

 

Looking Out for "More Than Me"

Altruism, loosely defined as being selfless, is seen as demonstrating prosocial behaviors like offering, comforting, sharing, philanthropy, and community service. It is a virtue in many cultures, seen as a core aspect of various traditions from across the globe, and something we here at LOCZIdesign admire.

I spoke with Katie Meyler, founder of More Than Me on the phone Wednesday afternoon during their Match Day. More Than Me is a non-profit dedicated to removing little girls from the streets of Liberia, and into school, providing tuition, lunches and moral support. This vibrant organization works closely with community leaders in West Point Liberia to soundly determine which young girls are at the most at risk of sexual exploitation. Katie was kind enough to let me have a candid interview with her:

The foundation began in 2007, I believe? My understanding it that it sort of naturally began in Liberia after the war. Could you touch more on that and how you ended up there?

“I ended up in Liberia in 2006. I got my first job with Samaritan’s Purse after college and they sent me to Liberia. I knew nothing about all the complexities of post war Liberia — I thought I would be in the Middle East somewhere. Liberia has a very rich and interesting history, so I just took the plunge. Though the war was officially over in 2003, when I showed up I still saw a lot of displaced adults and children throughout Monrovia. There were people with missing limbs wondering the streets — it was a mess. I was running a literacy program in the bush. So I would come to the city to get supplies and would see children carrying water barrels on their heads, trying to make money, trying to get to school. I didn’t have much money on my salary, but I started paying tuition for some students and began telling people on Myspace, [which was cool at the time] about these children’s stories. I began to receive donations and advice from people who felt I should just begin a nonprofit.”

As an interior design firm, we also like to think of ourselves as a vessel for our clients — creating a home they thrive in, so they can beautifully manifest outwards into the world. Have you personally seen the impact of what a better home provides for your girls, their lives, their goals, and their ability to absorb education?

“We put them through school while partnering up with various leaders within their communities. These kids are pretty much homeless, they stay with relatives in houses made of garbage and tin, they usually sleep on cement floors. … Considering the conditions that they live in, you wonder how they can survive. But putting on a uniform gives them such a sense of pride, even though their school doesn’t have running water. At times some girls stay with me, and even though it’s just a painted cement building, I can just tell when there’s a clean spacious place for them, it makes them comfortable and confident. Bringing them back home is sometimes hard because they do not want to return. We’ve discussed providing a boarding situation, but we’re not quite there yet — we’re getting there though.”

It’s very refreshing to see such a vibrant group of people in your organization; Spain, Sierra Leone, San Francisco, New Jersey, New York, Liberia, New Zealand, and Korea are all represented by More Than Me’s team members. As a worldly woman yourself, do you think you naturally gravitate towards other worldly individuals?

" I work with all types of people, and there isn’t a particular type that I’d prefer to work with. It’s not just the tree-hugger in California, it’s also the republican in New Jersey [where she grew up], or the African American homeless man. It’s really about our humanity — bones and blood. Most want to be involved because they’ve somehow heard the story through me, or a friend. I actually met our web administrator Daniel on a train! I’m constantly talking about the girls. Wow, if these girls even knew that me talking about them is it’s actually what draws people… It is interesting at first when you get a team together, and they all dress differently, spend their free time differently. But there’s a deeper message for us and we live something bigger than ourselves, and get over our ego.”

Your childhood really resonates with me, growing up monetarily less fortunate, but persevering. How far has that taken you in your journey? Where do you think you differ than most people?

" I always have been a little of a strange person, even when I was younger. I never thought I wanted a house with a white picket fence. When I became a born again Christian at the age of 14, I knew I would serve the poor in some way, despite whether or not that was in the U.S.. I grew up in a very white and wealthy part of town, but I myself wasn't wealthy. I always knew that didn't define me. I loved worldy things and one of my best friend growing up was Paraguayan, I loved salsa dancing and I kind of knew that I wanted to live in Latin America or somewhere outside of the States. I had a good relationship with God and felt lucky to be who I was, living an unconventional life. But when I started More Than Me in the beginning, I sort of doubting myself, and my family and friends were also questioning my path. I was the first person in my family to attend college and they thought, 'Wow, you just graduated from college you’re going to be basically be homeless in Liberia?' But it knew it was something I had to just do."

Spreading Random Acts of Color!

As interior designers, you know that we talk about colors — a lot! Yet, color and its influence is a broader experience that is often a vessel for therapy, outreach and even triumph. "It’s a can of paint but so much bigger than that!” That's Laura Guido-Clark, the Founder/President of Project Color Corps and Principal at Laura Guido - Clark Design. Consider her your guru of color activism.

As a longtime education advocate who's equally passionate about both color and assisting in the community, LOCZIdesign founder Paige Loczi is teaming up with Laura to make the world a little brighter, one school at a time.

Laura is an expert designer of color, materials, and finishes who has worked with several dozen of companies including Samsung, Kodak, Apple, HBF Textiles and FLOR. Nonetheless, her take on consulting with clients is a sincere, yet powerful approach. "Within approximately 90 seconds of viewing any person, place, environment, or object, you form an opinion. And 60% - 82% percent of that opinion is based on color alone. It’s pretty powerful," Laura adds. "We work with clients and use colors respectfully to shift the human experience while supporting the view point of the designer and the object itself."

Project Color Corps

 

Which brings me to our current passion here at LOCZIdesign, Project Color Corps. This non-profit officially kicked off September of 2011 in Berkeley California as a tool of community outreach. The color connection with outreach has turned out to be a perfect blend. "I’m just kind of madly in love with color." Laura adds. "When I go back to even when I as a little girl (and I was an emotional kid) and sometimes I didn’t have the right words to say — I always wished I could use color as a way to describe how I felt. Color is a change agent and a language. And it is actually a teacher too. The environment we create teaches us just like teachers, just like peers — and self-respect is a large part of that. Taking care of something beautiful and something that is colorful makes you embody self respect."

Project 1: Oakland, CA

 

E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts (above) has been servicing students in the city of Oakland for 11 years. Project Color Corps is currently working closely with the incredibly dynamic principal, Lisa Blair, to transform and paint the exterior of the facility with a color palette and mural that will reflect the school, its students and community. "These kids inspire me." Laura tells us, "They are positive, ambitious, kind, and respectful even though they come from one of the most 'at-risk' communities. They start everyday with very positive intentions that they recite aloud — you know that the faculty, along with Lisa are trying to really make a profound difference."

Project Color Corps is hoping the community will come out to volunteer and raise 50,000 dollars by May of 2012. "The school needs to be painted professionally of course," Laura says, "but it will be a combination of rolling up your sleeves, in addition to professional people working together to make this something worth pride and investment." They hope to paint during the summer and have the project completed respectably in the fall.

Spreading Random Acts of Color

 

In the short time they've been around, Project Color Corps has sprouted within various communities nationwide with their Spread Red campaign. Laura defined it as a remedy for monotony and lack. "A Random Act of Color is optical optimism; a community act of color stirring emotions of wonder, reflection and joy. This past December in cities across the country, Project Color Corps invited participants to gather and organize the donation of warm items such as gloves, hats, scarves and coats in shades of red to create an enormous heART installation."

How You Can Help

 

The campaign doesn't end here. You can bet that LOCZIdesign will be helping in numbers — so we're not ashamed to ask you for your help! You can promote, paint, advocate and donate to Project Color Corps by clicking here. Because at the end of the day, design and color is about shaping an environment we can all be proud of. "Everybody has a little personal story about color and what it means for them." Laura tells us. "My love for it is so deep that it’s really about using it in a most profound way — that’s the main goal — whether it’s a product or a school. I want to work the community and the kids to help them understand what they are and help them speak this language that I love so much!"