Doing the Most Good
The Hillary for America Design Team Event Recap
On March 29th, we heard from one of 2016’s most prolific group of design professionals: the Hillary for America design team. Led by Design Director, Jennifer Kinon (Original Champions of Design), the team of 16 worked tireless hours to bring together the national campaign, including ideating and developing some of the campaign’s most memorable taglines and designs. While their work for Hillary for America (HFA) may have come to an end on November 9th, this is where our work begins.
As the team recounted their varied experience we heard stories of longtime Hillary supporters, including Cindy Hwang, Laura Bernstein (who is now based in LA, but was represented by a tub of cheese balls at the event) and Hannah Ho (who marked this as a “mythical design opportunity”), to not-yet-convinced members, like Shar Biggers (now a major fan); We heard from people who were already apart of the Clinton-camp, like Ida Woldemichael (former staffer for The Clinton Foundation), to those who moved across the country to support the candidate, including San Franciscan, Erica Deahl. Even volunteer firefighter, Steve Merenda was impassioned to join the cause, and as Eric Hartman mentioned, to some, “this is the most important thing you will do with your life.” While the reasons for coming aboard varied widely, Jennifer was able to capture their collective passion in one hypothetical: “you can’t sit on a couch when you’re 92 and say I could have worked to get the first woman elected president.”
Despite where they came from, this is the kind of passion that’s needed from a close-knit, high-paced team. This kind of “always be on” and “ready for anything” attitude, that Maggie Bignell and Chelsea Atwell both expressed in their portrayal of the campaign, is what made the campaign’s design, and their lighting-fast response to current events, so successful.
While the team captivated us with the bad, the good, the enlightening and the long hours, nothing was as inspired as the message of “do the most good” — a message that Hillary herself tries to live by. As Kara Haupt noted, “we no longer have the luxury to think our good intentions are enough”. And, using your skills to design throw away objects with the intention of donating proceeds to a charity isn’t good enough according to Allyn Hughes. It’s apparent that we need to use design to make a direct difference in the world, regardless of what position you take, or which party you vote for.
This inspiring message wasn’t just a slogan, it was a call to action. Victor Ng, the Product Design Lead on the campaign, left the audience on Wednesday night with a kit of tools to make actionable changes. The items are easy, we just need to start. Here are the six things you can do to begin to make a difference:
1 Get into the issues
Do your homework. Be specific. Stay informed. You can inform and defend your design decisions and your values. By the time the team put a pixel on a screen they could explain everything Hillary was championing for.
2 Join an Organization
Join a progressive organization that already exists. If you care about climate change, trans rights, black lives matter, etc., there are a lot of organizations that need your talent. Check out team alumni site: Dothemostgood.design to see where you can help.
3 Learn to Organize
Empathy! Immerse yourself in those processes that have been proven to make change. Understand the difficulty of organizing.
4 Start Designing
Only once you understand the background and foundation of an issue or cause can you truly start designing. The problems you solve could be as simple as a better sign in sheet; it could help voters and volunteers to get where they need to go; it could be an app that helps people get in touch with their representatives.
5 Run a good business
If you believe inclusivity is an American value, show that in how you compensate your team, provide health insurance, pay your interns, have conversations about diversity, use paid time to volunteer, give your team the day off to vote
Get everyone you know to register and go to the polls for 2018!
As Ng says, “Design might not be the hero of the story, but it you believe in doing good for people for as long as you can and the best you can, then design is just one of the things you offer.” As designers, the most important thing that we can do is help to communicate to and for those in need. While it may seem like a large task, we can all do our small part to move the collective community forward for good.
Regardless of what you’ve fighting for, as Michael Bierut, designer of the HFA logo (with support from Jesse Reed and Julie Lemley) stressed in his opening introduction, “now more than ever, we need to continue to fight for our country.”
All event photos courtesy Samuel Draxler.