Julie Sayo, Lecturer, Loyola University Maryland
Community is one of the core values at Loyola University Maryland. In the past few years, Baltimore, where the university is located, has been in the national spotlight for high homicide rates and uprisings that have shaken the city. This studio project was an attempt to answer the questions “What can a university do to promote resilience in its neighborhoods?” and “What role can design play in this process?”.
This project has run for the past two years after a local organizer asked for help on a logo for a nearby neighborhood association. Collaborating with the community organizer and a staff member from Loyola’s Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ), student interns worked on brand identities for two neighborhood associations. Recruiting new members and increasing member participation were emphasized as goals for the projects.
The undergraduate students were paid staff interns who typically work on promotional materials for the center. To prepare for their work, they undergo intensive social justice and racial justice training throughout the year. The students toured the neighborhoods, interviewed stakeholders and researched ideas for their respective neighborhood associations.
The process was mutually beneficial: the community associations were welcomed onto campus and introduced to new resources available to them, and the students were able to experience pitching to a real client and the challenges and opportunities that come with working collaboratively. Through the project, students were exposed to the realities of life just a few steps from campus where economic opportunities are few. The work our students created helped our partners promote their respective organizations to residents and compete for grant funding often awarded to more established and active neighborhood associations.