It’s about 5am when I started writing this post and already I’ve sent out more then a dozen emails reaching out to some those in my design community on behalf of AIGA Central PA. I’ve been working on planning an event with my good pals Bri Picarri and James Castanzo to do a presentation and panel discussion with in-house designers in Central Pennsylvania this November. I imagine by the time I get into the office, I will have sent off a few more. It’s nice to communicate via email today after a long week of meet ups, having lunch meetings and after work drinks with my peers in the industry. Emails equal less driving and more background music with Alexisonfire.

Yea, sure. I’m up at an ungodly hour. I’m working on organizing items outside the realm of client service work, my spirit board project, and my day job but this is what it takes if you want to build a design community led by its members. I could be sleeping, but I am more motivated by the vision of having a well attended, meaningful event that showcases just how talented, driven, and amazing designers in Central PA are.

If your read my last post, you’ll know that my commitment to AIGA Central PA is something that I take very seriously. I believe in its purpose and I whole heartedly agree on building a community that serves as the backbone for designers in this area. I have given a lot of thought on how to best accomplish this. Luckily, I am not alone in this commitment. I, certainly, have many ideas on community building and events that we can do but that doesn’t make a community-led organization. A successful design community is one where everyone can make it their own, learn from one another and be empowered to contribute. The benefit of such a community is that it creates solidarity between its members, a trusted network that can help you in your professional endeavors and by creating opportunities to develop your skills, voice, and thinking through developmental exercises. A great community contributes to its own success, so it’s imperative that the discussion is open to everyone on how to make this chapter the community-led organization that it envisions itself.

One avenue for us is to create a more robust schedule of offerings, from keynote presentations to workshops, hyper local meet ups and member driven initiatives. I’ve compiled some of ideas that have been discussed as we go forward with the event schedule for 2015.

Coffee & Critique: A new, monthly breakfast meetup that can happen simultaneously across Central PA. The idea is simple. An organizer would pick a Saturday morning and invite local designers, regardless of membership status, to come out and share some work (limit two pieces per designer for brevity sake) and give some constructive, objective feedback with the goal in mind to make our design thinking stronger. These are informal events, led by a member who leads the discussion and keeps things moving at a good pace. After all of the work has been shown, it allows everyone the chance to talk, exchange contact information, and to speak up on what they would like to see happen with the chapter. The greatest part of this event is while someone may run this event in Harrisburg, a simultaneous Coffee & Critique can be going on in York, Lancaster, Carlisle, and Williamsport. This could truly be a community-led event.

Workshops: There are a lot of opportunities to do good work with workshops since there are so many different topics we can do. Professional development workshops to make designers more well rounded, business oriented professionals. Basic web coding workshops that teach people how to get started with HTML, CSS and even Javascript. Sketch club workshops, for when we just want to get away from the computer and bolster our illustration skills. What these workshop areas of interest do is help make designers better professionals while building connections between members who share similar interests.

Events: Some of best events are keynote presentations from industry leaders. They can help galvanize members in the chapter, encourage others to get involved and inspire the area to do better work. Keynote presentations and lectures with leaders in design, design conscience developers and other industry professionals bring a lot of attention to how the chapter is run and its dedication to it programming for members. The great thing is we can literally ask anyone to come and talk to our chapter. For me, personally, I would be ecstatic if we could get heavy hitters like Brad Frost, Ryan Hamrick, David Airey, Babs Tarr, Paul Jarvis and my hero Peter Saville (of Joy Division and New Order fame) to come and talk about how they came up in the field, what they find inspiring and what maxims they live by that make them excited to be working in this field. The great thing about all of these people is that they don’t rest on their laurels, they are all working professionals that face the same issues we all face in this industry.

Design For Good: Design For Good is an initiative by AIGA National to impart the importance and value of design through acts of charity or civic duty in your community. One of the proposed ideas we’ve discussed is to do a blood drive with the Central PA Blood Bank and have donors screen print their own posters before going to donate. This public service event would raise awareness for the importance of blood banks and get the larger community involved. The posters would serve as PSA’s and be a take away for donors to know that their donation can help save lives.

These are just a few ideas we’ve had and we’d love to discuss more. How about doing a one day design conference? I think it would be awesome. What about more student group events? Absolutely. How about a scholarship program that involves local agencies and in-house teams as the judges? Do-able with planning. What about fundraiser? Most definitely. How about community engagement with like groups like the young professionals groups, civic groups and chamber of commerce? Yes, on so many levels. What is stopping us from achieving this? More involvement. Come to an event, chat with a member or a board member and find out how you can get involved. I’m waiting for the day where someone can up to me and say “Alright man, let’s do this kind of event. How do we get started?”

I’d love to hear your ideas, any and all. Leave an idea in the comment section or shoot me an email with my chapter account and let’s talk. As you can tell, I’m not adverse to getting together and meeting or emailing people early in the morning to get things rolling.

September 19, 2014

Comments

Thank you Tim for your continuing commitment, fresh ideas and hard work to build this community! I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and helping where I can.

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