AIGA/NY presents: Identity Design Action: East New York

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Identity Design Action: East New York is a community-centered design initiative that connects community voices and economic development. Spearheaded by AIGA/NY in partnership with the Local Development Corporation of East New York, a nonprofit organization that provides social and professional services to minorities, our research-action took place throughout 2015, in the context of the East New York Sustainable Community Plan, a comprehensive initiative part of Housing New York, Mayor de Blasio’s 10-year plan to foster a more equitable city.

By using participatory processes we created “East New York. We Mean Business, Unite to Stay,” an advocacy campaign that aims to enhance small businesses’ awareness of current changes in the neighborhood in face of rezoning measures; fast-track their access to existing business development services offered by local nonprofits, and eventually empower them to unite as a merchant alliance.

Aside from its impactful motto the multi-faceted campaign included the wild distribution of posters and flyers placarded all over East New York streets, and hand-distributed to a selection of small business ambassadors, as well as digital tools such as an engaging website ( and a user-friendly SMS platform that automatically alerts businesses about local organizations’ workshops and events. Additionally our team designed and co-led a series of training workshops to empower the neighborhood’s small owners to become more resilient in time of change. To further the urban impact of the campaign on the streetscapes of East New York the campaign was completed with one 200-ft long banner in the Industrial Business Zone honoring small manufacturers, and more posters wheat-pasted on a construction fence of a future medical facility, located at a strategic point of Pennsylvania Avenue.

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The political context of this city-led reinvestment plan presents a unique opportunity for AIGA/NY to accompany public engagement and support community development, leveraging designers’ capacity to devise engaging cultural, graphic and communication strategies. It is a one-of-a-kind chance to align the New York chapter with city agencies to advance the field of creative placemaking and build up our chapter’s mission: to advocate for design within the city’s civil and cultural life.

This project was supported by a Neighborhood Challenge grant, funded by NYC Small Business Services and NYC Economic Development Corporation.

For the full impact report of the project, please click here

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Design team
WeShouldDoItAll (WSDIA) is a contemporary design studio that translates clients’ needs into dynamic, visual systems that can be presented at multiple scales. Devised by duo Sarah Nelson Jackson and Jonathan Jackson, solutions take the various forms of branding, spatial, environmental, interactive, or print projects. WSDIA has been nationally and internationally recognized through various awards and publications.

Design Research+Storytelling team
3×3 Design is a social innovation consultancy that works at the intersection of urban planning, design, and technology. Co-founders Megan Marini and Vanessa Smith create smarter programs and services for more livable cities. 3×3 uses practical knowledge of today’s complex urban systems, collaborative and tireless engagement, and insights gleaned from context-based research to help clients launch lean, resource-efficient projects that create social value. The team has applied design research to improve urban planning programs, services and policies for diverse organizations such as the World Bank, UN-Habitat, UNICEF, the City of Chicago, and the City of New York. 3×

Program Direction
Laetitia Wolff is a design curator and creative strategist self-described as a cultural engineer, interested in building bridges between design and the city. She creates projects that generate new discourses and experiences around design as a tool for change. For AIGA/NY she directs creative placemaking and civic design programs such as Design/Relief, DUMBO Circuit and Identity Design Action: East New York. She headed the nonprofit startup desigNYC as its first executive director following her 2010 launch of expoTENtial, an urban intervention platform that investigated design’s strategies to address pressing environmental issues. She is the author of the award-winning Phaidon monograph on Massin and Real Photo Postcards and an instructor in the SVA’s Impact! Design for Social Change program.

AIGA/NY Advisory board
David Frisco, Treasurer, project lead
Manuel Miranda, Vice President
Alicia Cheng, Board member

Community Partners
The Local Development Corporation of East New York empowers low-to-moderate income women and minorities with programs that promote economic sufficiency, build assets and improve their lives and those of their families.  We work with local businesses to retain and build industry and commerce, create jobs and improve economic opportunities for local residents and neighborhood enterprises.
Project partners include Gail Davis, Bill Wilkins and Santos Morales.

Community collaborators also include:
Cypress Hills LDC
With community residents leading the way, the mission of CHLDC is to build a strong, sustainable Cypress Hills and East New York, where youth and adults achieve educational and economic success, secure healthy and affordable housing and develop leadership skills to transform their lives and community.
Special thanks to Raquel Olivares and Lowell J. Herschberger

and The Coalition for Community Advancement for East New York and Cypress Hills
Special thanks to Darma Diaz and Humberto Martinez

The exhibition at WantedDesign Brooklyn will present the process behind this AIGA/NY project and it is designed by David Frisco, principal of DFD: David Frisco Design