An Eye on Design: What an Intern Sees

Alicia works on designing Advoz’s first winter themed thank-you card

Working with Advoz has been incredibly interesting and insightful, not only when it comes to the work that they do, but for myself. I had so many mixed feelings about working here. As a soon to be senior at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, I was nervous because I knew I was going to be the only graphic designer in the office. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that. It seemed like a lot of pressure and definitely intimidating.   But I wanted to work here; I liked the work Advoz does. I’m someone who thinks it’s best to work out problems rather than let them stew and end up boiling over, even if I do have difficulty talking about my own feelings. I also found Advoz’s Restorative Schools program to be incredible because I saw firsthand how zero-tolerance discipline policies didn’t work. So, I pushed my worries aside and got to work.

Since Advoz is still pretty new, its brand isn’t fully developed. I was working on a new slate, trying to figure out exactly what the brand would be like, what it would say, and I have to admit that I really enjoyed doing that. When you have a brand that’s already in place and fully developed, there’s not much you can do in the area of design.

For a designer, when a brand is new or just starting out, it can be a lot of fun getting to design everything from scratch.  I worked on new brochures, thank you cards, a banner and even a bumper-sticker! It can also be a little stressful. In each design I had to show their message, and when the brand is already in place, half that work is done for you. My coworkers and I would have to think about all the various audiences who would see the work and how they might interpret it. Being the designer in-house allowed me to see exactly what they did and gave me insight on how to create my designs.

I want to thank Chris, Mila, Angela, Becca, and Earldine for being so great to work with. I’m very appreciative to have gotten this experience, and I’m going to miss Advoz as I jump back into my senior year at PCAD!

Start with ‘discourse about discourse’

May 1, 2017

This was published May 1st, 2017 in OP-ED in print and online. Copyright © 2017 LancasterOnline. All Rights Reserved.

The April 8 article on the visit of Jonathan Haidt (“America’s Uncivil Discourse”) is a reminder of how the need for civil discussions is a central concern of this era, perhaps a lost art. Our political and cultural divisions are starker than ever. “Discourse about discourse” sounds like self-indulgence until we notice that many cultural traditions — and contemporary conflict resolution methods — take this step very seriously.

Ground rules, as they’re called in modern conflict mediation, are fundamental to the success of any dialogue. Where people share linguistic and cultural norms, ground rules often function invisibly. But in situations of escalated tension with diverse assumptions about “normal,” conversation about conversations is necessary. That’s the state of America today. Our diverse schools, businesses and communities are increasingly microcosms of a diverse society, including its conflict.

The insight of ground rules suggests that neither Haidt nor those he criticizes for demanding “safe spaces” are wrong. What may be wrong is prescribing the rules. Each challenging dialogue will have its own needs and goals. More likely than not though, people will want similar guidelines — respectful listening, equal chances to speak, refraining from putdowns, etc.

The point of creating ground rules for each conflict is not to shape unique guidelines. It’s to get buy-in for the eventual dialogue.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau suggested that democracy be periodically remade so that each generation could renew its sense of ownership. Similarly, in heated debate with diverse norms, our communities and institutions can be strengthened by inviting people who want to join the dialogue to jointly build that conversation from the ground up. Then when we begin the deeper conversation, we’ll be speaking in a space safe enough for everyone to be part of the change they seek.

Christopher Fitz
Executive Director of Community Engagement