Design for Good: A Dialogue on Creative Social Change


Design for good is an important movement in the global design community, but what exactly does it mean and how can you become a part of it? How does design thinking come into play when it comes to solving social problems?  How can you make an impact and still make a living? We are starting the conversation here in Seattle and want to invite you to become a part of it.

Join AIGA Seattle Wednesday October 15, 2014 at the Frye Art Museum, as we start to define what design for social change means in the Seattle design community. We are bringing together a multidisciplinary panel of graphic designers, strategists, business owners, and product designers to open up the conversation and share what it means for them in their professional lives.

Perspectives will be presented on funding self-initiated projects, working with non-profit clients, the importance of corporate social responsibility for large companies, running your own design firm focused on social change, leading an in-house creative department of a global non-profit, and product design that improves people's lives. We look forward to a lively Q&A following the panel.

Let’s start the conversation together.

Our panelists include:
Cornelius Brudi, PATH, Creative Director
Michael Ellsworth, CIVILIZATION, Founding Partner / Principal
Leslie Hale, Methodologie, Chief Strategy Officer
Masuma Henry, Artefact, Executive Director
Joel Meyers, Fuse IQ, Founding Partner and Director of Business Development

Gage Mitchell, Modern Species, Partner & Creative Director and AIGA Seattle President

Doors open at 6pm
Panel Begins at 6:30pm

Following the event, walk a couple blocks to the after party at Vito's for a chance to talk with the panelists further and make some new connections.

Get updates and invite your friends and colleagues on our Facebook event page!

Pour Back is just days away.


We're getting excited about out next picnic-themed fundraiser, which is sure to be a blast. With the help from our friends from Turnstyle and Duo we're throwing a party to celebrate our local businesses and raise some dough for our design for good initiative. Here are somethings to look forward to for Thursday's shindig...

Bid on artwork from great local artists such as David PhillipsJason Grube, Katy Harrison, Tamai, and Shogo Ota.

Play giant Jenga with Makerhaus.

Join us on the rooftop deck and take pics in our awkward family photo booth. Complete with matching vests and cats.

Be inspired! We have some design for good examples to show you from Turnstyle and Sarita Schaffer of Viva Farms.

Speaking of Viva Farms, they'll have all their berries out for us to eat! Yum!

Raffle prizes. Yes we have lots of good stuff to give away thanks to our gracious local sponsors.

Oh and did we mention hors d'oeuvres from Skillet and beer from Hilliard's?

We can't wait to see you all there! Get your tickets now online

Pour Back is on Thursday August 4, 2014 @ Turnstyle & Duo, 4743 Ballard Ave. NW Suite 200, Seattle

Order tickets here, otherwise they go up $2 at the door!

Design from the Ground Up

A guest post by Pour Back winner Sarita Schaffer.

My first AIGA event was a Schmooze at Black Coffee Co-op on Capitol Hill, a rad worker-owned, nonprofit community space – a venue choice that earned AIGA my instant respect. Within minutes, I met several interesting people, collected a dozen recommendations of events and meet-ups to check out and received valuable career advice from a local UX design professor. I was already contemplating joining Seattle AIGA when I picked up a pamphlet about the Pour Back award. After reading about Pour Back, I was completely sold on joining AIGA – and applying for the award.

If you haven’t heard about the competition and award, definitely check out the Pour Back site and attend the upcoming brew night, Aug. 7th at Turnstyle and Duo. Pour Back works like this: with the help of local businesses, breweries, wineries, and distilleries, AIGA raises money for great causes.

All money raised is put into the Pour Back Fund and then given to talented designers who are focused on benefiting a community in the Pacific Northwest and solving real-world problems. As a social entrepreneur transitioning into design work, this was right up my alley.

13 years ago, I was accepted to the Rhode Island School of Design for illustration. Three days into orientation I had an existential crisis. I chose RISD to pursue design for good – to channel my creativity into promoting social justice and environmental protection – but I realized that I lacked a practical understanding of either. So, I withdrew from RISD and hitchhiked across the US to work on an organic farm here in the Puget Sound. From Washington I traveled to other states, then to Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru and Brazil, working with farmers and studying innovative models of agricultural education and rural development.

In 2001 I co-founded, a site that connects people who want to learn about farming to internships and work on farms in all 50 states and 52 countries. In 2009, I joined forces with Washington State University to bring its Latino Farming Program to western Washington and launch Viva Farms. Viva is a farm business incubator that helps Latino farm workers and new farmers become farm owners by providing them affordable access to land, equipment, start-up capital, and marketing & distribution support. Finally, this past September, my journey came full circle. After working in sustainable agriculture locally and internationally for more than a decade, I returned to school for graphic and UX design.


Because I’ve come to see that a socially just and ecologically sustainable food system can’t be built by farmers and agricultural nonprofits alone. Everyone will have to participate. Most of all, eaters, who outnumber farm operators 150 to 1. Eaters shape the food system because farmers respond to consumer demand. Farmers always grow more of what sells and less of what doesn’t. If local, organically-grown, field-fresh, minimally-packaged strawberries sell best, more acreage is dedicated to growing them. If heavily-fumigated, plastic-packed, cold-shipped strawberries whose low price is maintained by under-paying farm workers are what sells, more acreage is converted to that. It’s that simple.

But as eaters, how do we know which food system we’re voting for when we reach for a pint of strawberries at the store? Often we don’t. That’s why I’ve come back to design after all these years, and why I applied to Pour Back.

Design informs and educates. It distills infinitely complex concepts into beautiful, recognizable symbols that guide us to act in accordance with our values. For instance, it helps signal which berries build the food system we want and which ones don’t.

The goal of my Pour Back design was to transmit Viva Farms’ mission via the medium that most directly connects farmers and eaters: the product itself. The Viva Farms label that will soon be affixed to select Seattle-bound product prominently displays our bright, high-octane logo. It briefly tells our story, and directs eaters to, where they can learn more about our work and get involved in supporting a new generation of sustainable farmers.  Keep an eye out for our delicious product at Central Co-op, Stockbox on First Hill, in Molly Moon’s strawberry sorbet, and at upcoming Pour Back events!