When you think of humanitarian aid programs, you probably envision a group of altruistic individuals who travel to foreign lands to help the poor, the sick, the underprivileged – the workers are doctors, scientists, home builders and Peace Corps members. At least, that’s how I’ve always envisioned it. But I had an eye-opening experience when I read about Drexel University’s Krissy Beck, a graphic designer who traveled to Thailand as part of Drexel’s Thai Harvest Initiative, a program that helps institute more efficient farming practices by designing tools to handle the sloping, rocky terrain Thai farmers have to work with. This, in turn, helps increase yields so fewer people go hungry. It is an admirable cause. But what does graphic design have to do with Thai farming? Everything, it seems. Not only can graphic designers help develop more efficient tools, they are responsible for what Beck says are “critical leave-behinds” – instruction manuals for how to operate the tools. The Initiative travels to Thailand just once annually, so they need to develop instruction manuals so Thai farmers can learn how to use the tools. Otherwise, the entire Initiative could prove useless. Graphic designers work to visually convey information in an easy-to-understand manner. No doubt Beck’s work will play a crucial role in helping more Thai farmers learn how to more efficiently work their fields, and in turn feed the country’s starving population. It is indeed a critical, though largely unsung, cog in the Initiative’s efforts. So often we think of graphic design as a means to market, but it can have world-changing effects. Feeding the starving is indisputably more important and noble than making another dollar, so graphic designers like Beck who use their talents to make the world a better place should be lauded. If you want to put your design skills to good use, stop by the Wikipedia page for Humanitarian Aid Organizations. Find organizations that interest you, and contact them to see how your graphic design skills might help them fulfill their missions. Not only will your work have real impact, you can feel great about doing something that changes the world for the better. Have you ever volunteered your graphic design services for a world-changing cause? Tell me about it in the comments!
Change The World With Graphic Design
August 19, 2013
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