The day started with a short assembly in which a few chapters shared inspirational stories of local programs and initiatives they have taken on to contribute to society and the design community. AIGA New Orleans presented a truly remarkable project in which they have gone to great lengths to preserve the history of graphic design in South Louisiana by documenting and archiving work, stories and interviews of people who lived the history, and processes and equipment used by designers in the past. We were so inspired by what they are doing and I strongly encourage you visit the program website to learn more about the amazing work they are doing: www.louisianadesignhistory.com . Next AIGA Colorado presented the many community initiatives they put on to give back to their local community, including the Denver_Urban Forest Project where they design banners throughout the city, student member scholarships, and the AIGA (Re)Design Awards. So incredibly inspiring! And finally Gaby Brink and Phil Hamlett of AIGA San Francisco / Center for Sustainable Design talked about what made Compostmodern so successful. To learn more about Compostmodern and how to host your own presentation of the event, visit www.compostmodern.org .
After some final general discussion about issues brought up during our caucus sessions, it was time for the Constitutional Convention in which each chapter, led by their regional national board representative, voted to endorse or oppose the proposed Mandate of 2014 and the new directions for AIGA. Each chapter rose with their placards (ours a giant foam mustache and speared potato!) and voiced the approval, disapproval, or amendments or caveats for the proposed directions set forth to carry us into the next century. The energy and the passion in the room was overwhelming as nearly 100 years in operation culminated in this historic event. One by one each chapter emphatically voted to support the mandate, with many important caveats and amendments to be taken into consideration, some of which I’ll list below (sorry if I left someone important out!):
• New Orleans suggested AIGA fast track their adoption of social media and social networking opportunities.
• Iowa reminded us of the importance of openly sharing knowledge and not being elitist in the way AIGA proposes to tier website content access.
• West Michigan emphasized the focus on design thinking and the importance of design to business objectives.
• Austin presented the caveat that while it’s important to address the need for more long term benefits to the design profession, AIGA must continue to focus on individual, tangible benefits for members to ensure continued growth of the organization.
• Boston brought up a great point that while we need to focus on doing more online and in digital format, we must always remember and embrace the value of the printed piece, and especially acknowledging the support from our partners and supporters in the print industry.
• The representative from Rhode Island only wished to request a man-date with President Sean Adams, which was met with a standing ovation and joyous laughter!
• Seattle mentioned that while we propose to shift the focus to design’s business strategy as opposed to purely creativity in design, creativity IS business strategy and inherent in the process.
• San Diego voted to leverage the latest technology to build a better, bigger social community for AIGA.
There was unanimous support from chapters for the mandate, and it was exciting to be able to represent our members and all designers in Idaho to also support the proposed changes. As Ric Grefe pointed out, this weekend was really about AIGA as an organization sitting down and listening to members and chapters and their needs, and laying out plans to respond to those needs in changing times.
From here AIGA will review and respond all the caveats and suggestions mentioned throughout the weekend discussions, and will refine the mandate as needed before placing it in front of members and taking action to put these initiatives in place. As an organization we are moving to invert the pyramid and facilitate bottom-up conversation that encourages member participation and contribution. Instead of AIGA being the authority, its members will now be the authority and voice for design.
Out With The Old, In With The New (So To Speak)
Once we were done with the Convention and got back from lunch breaks, we all gathered with our chapters to discuss our next steps for implementing the mandate in our own local chapters. Once we get back home and decompress from the trip, we’ll be sharing our plans with everyone and getting your feedback. Some chapters wished to share their plans and ideas with the entire group, with many inspiring us to move in new directions as well. One of our biggest wishes is to collaborate with our sister chapters in Colorado, Salt Lake, Reno / Tahoe, Portland and Seattle, and build a stronger relationship with our regional neighbors. Afterwords Ric Grefe made some closing remarks and gave a touching and clearly emotional speech for outgoing president Sean Adams, who received an award and standing ovation for his support over the past 2 years. Sean then introduced the incoming AIGA President, the legendary Debbie Millman of Sterling Brands. As a final note, Ric gave a speech for outgoing Presidents’ Council Chair Mike Joosse, who put forth so much effort in putting together this year’s retreat and helped to make it a resounding success. Congratulations and best wishes to all.
Tomorrow, A New Journey
As we say our goodbyes and celebrate one last time, we inevitably must head back to our normal daily lives tomorrow. My hope is that we can continue to keep in touch with everyone we’ve met and continue the discussions that have started this weekend. We are on the cusp of something extraordinary, today we voted to change the future of AIGA for the better, and tomorrow we take that first step towards making it a reality for our members.
Personally I have learned so much from so many people this weekend, and will return home with a plethora of notes and ideas of how we can make AIGA and the Idaho chapter a better organization. We are all honored and humbled to have been a part of this year’s retreat, one that was critical to our organization’s future. It has been truly a pleasure to have shared stories, laughter and ideas with you all, and look forward to building those relationships we’ve made the past few days. Wishing safe travels for all of you.
We are immensely passionate about AIGA and the design community, as are all who attended this weekend. I personally can’t wait to get home and plant the seeds to put some of these initiatives in motion. AIGA has truly become a better organization because of the feedback and support of our members and our leaders. Now I’ve gotten all mushy, so that must be my cue! Good night.