In 2009-10, Jessica Helfand and I had the amazing experience of working with Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation
on a Winterhouse initiative — housingus.org
— supported by a Sappi "Ideas that Matter" grant of $40,000.
Housingus.org was a public awareness campaign to enhance the understanding of affordable housing as a critical element in the future of our towns and villages in the Berkshires (straddling Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts). Affordable and low-income housing is a key issue on the agendas of most villages in the region, but public resistance to projects remains high. The housingus.org campaign was intended to create a more positive public environment for discussion of needs and future plans: simply put, to help a rural villages and towns understand that housing is a critical part of sustainable communities. The awareness campaign incorporated posters and billboards, as well as a large mailer, to reach a majority of the citizens in our region.
This is a Winterhouse project we are especially proud of and want to share. The initiative continues, and the climate in our region has changed: in fact, zoning laws have evolved and many town have made significant progress on affordable housing in order to maintain young, diverse and vibrant communities.
Sappi is now accepting applications for its 2012 grant cycle
for "Ideas that Matter," with a deadline of July 20, 2012. I want to encourage fellow designers to partner with their favorite non-profit on an initiative of merit that will help people and communities in need. Sappi is a sponsor of Design Observer, and I am pleased to support their work on this front and hope hundreds of designers will explore this opportunity. Remember, the deadline is July 20...