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Designing for Social Impact
By Alfredo A. Weeks VI & Lara Weeks
Designing for Social Impact
Written by Alfredo A. Weeks VI
Designing for social impact is just as important as how we design for social impact. For FRINGE22, it's a lifestyle we've built upon – as well as various cultures we've embraced – that have led us to achieve a balance between the lives we lead and our work becoming one and the same.
We met the MCJ Collective team through one of our previous clients — YardStick PBC — whose and their co-founder and MCJ community member Chris Tolles. After a few calls and emails with the MCJ team, we found their approach to be synergistic with FRINGE22; we recognized them as a group of individuals who wanted to make a positive impact in the world, and design would be used as the tool to elevate their mission.
Learning about the people behind the MCJ brand was everything to us. The cultures and experiences we’ve learned from each of the MCJ partners helped steer the brand development while making sure the community that MCJ represents can share its opinions and stand in the foreground.
With the help of messaging tones created by the Regenerates, we were able to find our footing as we developed a creative strategy. We just needed to test the waters first. Our intentions were to make sure that we were being purposeful and deliberate while exploring the different interpretations of what climate action and innovation are to so many. Through research and organic flowing conversations, we relearned what words like “expansive, collaborative, innovative, and non-traditional” mean to MCJ members and partners. It became clear that the brand needed to connect much less with age, gender, occupation or income, but rather a lifestyle – a lifestyle that is humbled by the reality and the importance of participating in the climate action space.
The creative strategy was everything we needed in concept but finding the right balance between concept and visuals was where we felt we could rustle a few feathers. Many designers say they have to be able to read minds to build successful brands. We on the other hand believe designers and strategists need to be able to interpret emotions by pairing feelings with visuals. Simplifying and interpreting experiences as well as cultures through short statements — while combining photos, graphic styles, and typography that resonates with the MCJ community was our approach. Finding the common thread between concepts can be tricky, but for us — this is where the fun begins.
It has been proven that our sequence of cognition functions through color, shape, and content in that order. With the MCJ rebrand, we began with which visuals come to mind when thinking about the phenomena of climate change. This exercise would help us understand how colors can be applied and steer us to images of heatwaves, rays of light, circles, and much more. The feeling of warmth and the idea of being expansive in a way where everyone is welcome to participate and share their own climate journeys was what we wanted to capture.
On the other hand images of smoke, gasses, and fumes emitting from factories and cars, and the fracking being done underground were mentioned. Reminding ourselves of the positivity and character of the MCJ community led us to a soothing aesthetic.
With all of the insights and testings, we were able to develop a creative strategy named “Collective Emission”. The idea of turning a negative into a positive was the approach behind the name. The thought of MCJ emitting a culture through its community by placing judgment on the sidelines regardless of one's experience or engagement in the climate action space can radiate through all walks of life — like the sun.
Developing a color palette that correlates with water, heat, and nature led us to colors such as blue, green, yellow, orange, and red graphic styles radiating and interpreting the expansive nature of the MCJ community. The addition of blurred graphics provided a literal representation of the need for clarity in everyone's own climate journey. The new MCJ brand is eccentric, vibrant, formal at times but also relaxed enough to keep the door open so new people can step inside to say what's up.
Designing for social impact has led us to working for hearts and minds. We often find ourselves having deep conversations with people we call collaborators not clients because we believe we're working towards the same results. Learning about the lives of our collaborators, their pains, aspirations, families, cultures and personal journeys before the work ever begins is where we find value. Many times in these conversations laughs are heard and sometimes tears are shed because the passion behind committing your life to serving others is one of the most selfless things we can imagine.
It's been a humbling experience to talk, listen and learn from the change makers and get to work on issues that we would have otherwise only had a surface understanding of. These change makers are the same individuals who put their trust in us to build upon their message and mission — to create an image that resonates with the people they serve. We're excited to share the new MCJ Collective brand and website built in collaboration with FRINGE22, the Regenerates, and the MCJ Member community. We hope it resonates with you!
Weekly climate art! This week, we’re featuring Nicole Kelner, check her out on twitter.
Each week, The Regenerates will surface a climate campaign or stories to be told—elevating why it works (or doesn't) from a communications and marketing lens.
Listen closely, and you’ll notice something starting to emerge in climate conversations that was largely absent from the narrative until now: optimism. Research tells us that stories of hope and optimism are highly effective tools for activating people. Scholar Elin Kelsey points to “evidence-based hope” as one of the most critically missing elements in creating sustained momentum for climate action. Now, a new Futerra report shows that stories about new technology inspire more climate optimism than stories of government or business efforts. So, how do we use this? Let’s give them proof of progress. In other words–more of your stories. Read more.
📸Visualizing the Transition
Mark Tomasovic is helping us imagine the climate future.
Spotlight on a climate tech deal of the week. Check out Climate Tech VC for the full roster of companies that raised climate capital this week.
Living Carbon, a San Francisco-based startup developing fast-growing trees for decarbonization, raised $15m in funding from Aydin Senkut, Lowercarbon Capital, Goat Capital, Prelude Ventures, Floodgate, MCJ Collective, Homebrew Ventures, EQT Foundation, and others. The company’s trees grow 30-50% faster and are more resistant to drought and rot, making them both better sources of carbon capture and economically attractive assets.
Learn about Epic Cleantec this week with Pique Action’s mini-documentaries.
Climate Action of the Week
Want to do more? Sign up for the next Climate Changemakers Hour of Action here.
There's a lot on the Senate's plate right now, and bringing the Build Back Better Act's climate provisions to the top of the agenda is mission critical. The clean electricity tax incentives passed by the House could reduce power-sector emissions by up to 73%. Call, email, and Tweet at your senators to urge them to pass this transformational policy. We have a handy tool to do it!
This week, Jason sat down with Apoorv Bhargava, Co-Founder & CEO of WeaveGrid. The startup uses machine learning to help utilities predict and manage large spikes in power demand from electric vehicle charging to balance renewable energy production and reduce the need for costly upgrades to the grid.
For more open positions, check out the #j-climatejobs channel in MCJ Slack.
Wren is hiring a Full-stack Engineer
💭If you have feedback or items you’d like to include, feel free to reach out.
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