While the effects of public policies can be widespread, the discussion and understanding of these policies are usually not. CUP’s Making Policy Public (MPP) poster series aims to make information on policy truly public: accessible, meaningful, and shared. We want to create opportunities for advocacy organizations to reach their constituencies better through design and for designers to engage social issues without sacrificing experimentation.
Once a year, CUP issues a call for groups working to explain complex policy issues to a particular constituency. A jury of design and policy leaders selects four projects that would benefit from a visual explanation, and that would contribute to a positive social justice impact. CUP then issues a call for designers who would like to collaborate on these topics, and the jury selects the final teams.
Over the next several months, CUP manages the collaborative design process, provides art direction, research assistance, and an honorarium for the collaborators. The resulting publications are used by the organizations to better reach their constituencies through innovative design. Because they are portable and use visual explanations to break down complex issues, the publications make policy accessible and interesting to non-experts.
Publications are distributed directly by advocacy partners to their constituents and to other advocates working on the issue. In addition, CUP distributes the posters to audiences interested in art and design. Over 40,000 MPP’s have been distributed to date, directly to the people who most need to know about these important issues, from longshore workers to juveniles who have been arrested. The publications are contributing to policy wins and more effective public participation for groups from public housing residents to street vendors. They have also been lauded as models of socially-engaged design at such venues as the Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Triennial.
To help the thousands of people in New York who still don’t have health insurance, the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) worked with Community Health Advocates (CHA, a program of the Community Service Society), designers Other Means, and illustrator Tim Lahan to create Figuring Out Health Insurance, a poster that walks individuals through the process of obtaining health insurance.
Adhikaar, based in Woodside, Queens, organizes in Nepali communities and has been running a campaign on the health and safety problems faced by nail salon workers. They have produced a pamphlet in collaboration with the Center for Urban Pedagogy with advice for both workers and customers at nail salons — including tips like “Be patient!” in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Nepali.
Partnering with the Center for Urban Pedagogy, Adhikaar has created a poster for salon owners to display in their places of business. With text in English, Chinese, Nepali, Spanish, and Korean, the poster includes health and safety information for both workers and patrons.
On the workers’ side, the Nepali community organization Adhikaar just published a colorful pamphlet—designed in collaboration with the Center for Urban Pedagogy—to educate communities about both public-health and labor-rights issues in the sector. The cartoon graphics, designed for accessibility, present general advice on workplace hygiene, health and safety, guidance on labor laws for workers, and advice for customers (“Be generous—tip at least 20%”).