Thursday, September 24, 2009

Weekly Post September 25, 2009

What I Did:

Spent ½ hour talking with Carol Jacobsen, Art & Design Professor, who provided me with great insight.  She creates various social documentaries on fascinating topics, such as women who are wrongfully imprisoned.  I asked her about how she approaches her subjects, the women in her project.   She talked about how she went about interviewing/documenting the women.  She mentioned to me the importance of first getting access to a shelter and then building a relationship with the organization.  She also gave me the names of a few artists who deal with the issue of homelessness, namely Martha Rosler.

Spent 3 hours researching ad agencies who work on unique non-profit campaigns.  Certain agencies create innovate ways to raise money or make an impcat, like the 15 Below Project I mentioned in my previous post.  Another cool project I found was by agency Droga5; they did an interesting campaign for Unicef to raise awareness for clean water.  In order to this, they branded tap water in various restaurants and bars throughout the world for one week and sold it for one dollar.  Restaurants all over NYC participated, and asked customers to pay $1 for tap water that is usually free.  All of the proceeds went to Unicef.  This idea is explained further at:, a well designed and user-friendly website.

They designed a canister wrapper PDF for the project, so that restaurants could easily print it out and add the wrapper to the water containers: 

In addition to asking people to donate $1 for tap water at the restaurant, the organization also offered the option of texting the word “TAP” to a Unicef number, and $5 would automatically be donated to UNICEF by charging your phone account.  An immediate solution using a form of today’s social media.  Love it.

This successful campaign raised more than $855,000 for UNICEF.

I also spent 1 hour creating an outline for the points I want to get across when speaking to the homeless shelter in Ann Arbor tomorrow.  I am not going to bring this sheet with me, but I want to make sure I enter the meeting prepared.

Took two hours to continue to research today’s homelessness.  Found several sad news stories about families who are newly homeless and their struggle to deal with it.  I realized the parents who were interviewed often use these words to describe their situation: humiliated, embarrassed, ashamed.

What did you accomplish, discover, encounter?

I was happy that this week I was able to set up two meetings, one with Carol Jacobsen, and one with a member of the Alpha House shelter in Ann Arbor.  I discovered the importance of reaching out & networking with various people in order to achieve my goals.  

I decided the “homeless” is such a broad term and often has a specific connotation to it.  I feel the average person is automatically disconnected to the subject when they hear the word “homeless.”  The reason why I feel this way: I encountered an interesting, reoccurring theme when communicating with several people this week.  I talked to friends, family members, and friends of friends about my project, and something similar happened with all of these separate conversations.  I found when I initially told people I was doing a project on homelessness, most were somewhat interested.  Then, I would continue to talk about how I'm focusing on today's major problem: homeless families who are part of the working poor, the ones who have lost their job and home because of the current depression.  The embarrassment of a foreclosed home.  The loss of pride.  The humiliation one might now feel in his or her community.  I noticed when I dove deeper into the subject, a switch would turn on, and the individuals I was talking to would suddenly be taking over the conversation, very passionate, curious, and interested in the matter.

I also discovered the hundreds of news articles on this subject, but none visually stimulating enough where I would run to donate money.  I would like to create a visual way for America to put a face on this issue, and take action.

What Should I Do Next?

I have a meeting set up with Alpha House tomorrow.  The woman is going to give a tour of the shelter and speak with me about the organization.  I have several questions for her about how the economy has impacted the demand of Alpha House. 

My homework will depend greatly on the conversation I have tomorrow with the shelter.  After the meeting, I want to quickly take notes of my initial reactions about the shelter and ideas I have.  I would like to make a list of ideas for this project after speaking directly to the shelter.  

I want to continue research and make a list of people I need to meet with, including professors in the school of social work.  I also discovered that Michigan has the highest foreclosure postings in the country (  I would like to contact foreclosure help services and discuss the situation further.  

1 comment:

  1. Meg-
    Excellent synopsis. Sounds like you are actively reaching out to people and new resources which is great. I’ll be interested to hear about your meeting at Alpha House. I know Michigan Radio and WDET have both recently run special series on the foreclosure crisis. I wonder if there are interesting resources, organizations mentioned in those broadcasts.

    You’re absolutely right that the framing of the issue – how it’s described – has everything to do with how much/whether people pay attention.

    Remind me to show you documentation of Kristen Shenk’s project for Blue Planet Run a few years ago. It was an interesting social action project which had a visual design component.

    Keep up the momentum—