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Here at Partners in Design much of the work we do is primarily for cultural and social organizations and nonprofits. These folks have been our clients for many years and we’re proud of the good work that they contribute to our communities. To reciprocate, each year we try to offer pro bono work to an organization who otherwise couldn’t afford professional design services.

There is no shortage of worthy organizations, but we’d like to share with you one we have begin working with whose mission is particularly important given the results of our recent election—Refugee Women’s Alliance or ReWA.

ReWA serves over 11,000 refugees and immigrants each year in the Puget Sound area. Their staff of 125 collectively speak over 50 languages. Many were ReWA clients themselves. The beauty of ReWA is that they provide a wide range of wrap-around services for every member of refugee and immigrant families—from infants to seniors—designed to make a long-lasting impact of their client’s lives as they transition to a new community. Some examples include their Early Learning Center, ESL classes, employment and vocational training, citizenship classes, domestic violence and behavioral health help, and housing and homelessness prevention.

ReWA is currently in the middle of a Capital Campaign to open a 5000 sf addition to their main center int he Rainier Valley in order to serve even more clients at a critical time in our nation’s history.

If you’d like to help, here’s an opportunity. Next Friday, Feb 24th, ReWA is hosting a special benefit with Seattle Shakespeare’s Bring Down the House Part 1, an adaption of Shakespeare’s Henry VI   adapted by Rosa Joshi and Kate Wisniewski.

The $60 ticket price includes pre-show hors d’oeuvres reception (cash bar), admission to Bring Down the House, Part 1, post-show conversation with the cast, and a $37 donation to ReWA’s Capital Campaign.

Purchase your tickets through the Friends of ReWA page to support ReWA and see a great performance at the same time!

For more information on ReWA, visit their website at rewa.org
 
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It’s important not to oversimplify the act of ‘wayfinding.’

But wait, letís back up for a moment… what is ‘wayfinding?’

The strict definition of the term historically means to orient someone for the purpose of determining their location in relation to a desired destination or objects that may be nearby. But in a broader sense, wayfinding encompasses all of the ways we utilize to orient ourselves in any physical space as we navigate from place to place. Wayfinding functions to inform people of their surroundings in the (unfamiliar) built or natural environment, offering information at strategic points to guide people in the right direction.

But perhaps weíre going too fast here. Is this a design process of pure form follows function? Or, is wayfinding experiential? Does it contain a story too? Imagine a point ‘A’ and assume that wayfinding will aid you in getting to point ‘B.’ A good designer will include in this journey the emotional and motivational aspects of the distance being traveled. Inspiration and memory should be a part of the plan. In fiction and comparative mythology, the ëheroís journeyí is the common template of a broad category of tales involving a hero beginning a great adventure, facing a decisive crisis and winning a victory, then coming home transformed. In this scenario, our hero (visitor, student, patient, citizen) needs wayfinding (map, markers and guides). Getting from A to B is just the diagrammatic template for a wayfinding solution. When it succeeds, good wayfinding design incorporates many human needs along the way.

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So in this broader context, what can wayfinding bring to a project?

Complex structures and environments are interpreted and stored by the human memory. Distances, locations and time may be remembered differently than as they appear to be in reality. An effective wayfinding system is based on human behavior and consists of:

—reducing the fear factor (where is the next rest-stop?)

—creating a comprehensive, clear and consistent visual communication system with concise messaging

—taking special care (wayfinding and signage has a dynamic physical presence within the landscape and should be environmentally respectful)

Wayfinding is the tool that binds: roads, paths, buildings, thought processes, experiences, and more into a matrix. It can assist in getting us between two points in the simplest manner, or it can create a lasting ‘memory-scape.’ Designed effectively, wayfinding is a cornerstone to promotion and a catalyst to expanded interaction; a designed set of elements that help us navigate and provide greater access to discovery.

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“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

—Joseph Campbell

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Our main character “B” is questioning the things people are labeling him. Sometimes what people say make him feel proud. Then they seem confused by him and they say hurtful things. They don’t seem to fit B’s true self. B has both his best friends, and bigger than life bullies to contend with. In B’s classroom his 2nd grade teacher has posted the equal rights of every student… perhaps all classrooms should have their own Classroom Civil Rights. Here’s the poster B depends on. Our book “B in the World” is published and available online, http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/b-in-the-world-sharon-mentyka/1120953292?ean=9780986329302

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We’re thrilled to announce a book that our studio has just released! Written by Sharon Mentyka and illustrated by Stephen Schlott, B IN THE WORLD is an illustrated chapter book for children ages 4-7 about a gender nonconforming child. It takes an open-hearted, kids-eyed view of what it means to be different and celebrates children for who they are meant to be, not how others want to label them. Written in a fun, engaging voice, B IN THE WORLD is a story about being yourself and being proud of it. It is a story for kids who are different, with the ultimate message that it’s okay to be different.

Many thanks to family, friends and organizations who contributed funding and moral support for the project. Please consider gifting, sharing, and reading aloud B IN THE WORLD. The book is available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon or you can order a signed copy here. An e-book version is also available at the Apple iTunes Store.

Here’s what some early reviewers have to say:
“B in the World is a great book for the middle primary reader. It explores themes of inclusion and difference in a fun and readable way about a gender fluid child exploring his female side and struggling with what it means.” ~Tracy Flynn, Welcoming Schools, Human Rights Campaign Foundation

“As the parent of a gender non-conforming son, I am delighted to welcome B into our library and our family. B is a sweet, happy boy with a brave heart and the determination to live his truth. I give B an A!”~ Pamela Privett, Parent

Stay tuned for info on a book launch in the Seattle area. In the meantime, check out B’s website for more information on the book’s genesis and resources.

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I’d like to share a little bit about a personal project I’m creating, it’s called “I’m Different Press”. I’m designing cards and posters with unique and necessary messages of wit and inclusion. I believe in diversity… look around, it’s one of the greatest assets of America. I use messages of pride, inclusion, anti-bullying and acceptance in my graphics.

Our motto is be different and make a difference. These simple prints may begin a good conversation… what you say matters. Some of the proceeds also support non-profit groups who are making headway in equality rights and protecting youth.

If you have a moment visit my online shop. Be yourself with pride. Dare to be you. I would like to hear your suggestions for future cards and posters.

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