Draw Me Democracy!

The Problem

While improving, the utilization of sophisticated design and visual communication techniques has not yet become a common element of advocacy and outreach campaigns in the NGO world. The viral success of the KONY 2012 video this year, however, demonstrated the extent to which quality and creative production values can have a significant effect on the ability for organizations to attract attention to their social messaging. Part of the problem relates to a lack of substantive interaction between members of the design community and the non-profit and activist world. The creative skills of the former, and their ability to use graphic design and imagery to ensure the delivery of a message with the greatest impact, could be far better utilized by organizations seeking to achieve deeper socialimpact through broad-based shifts in public opinion.

The Idea

4 Tomorrow is an NGO founded in 2009 whose goal is to encourage people, both within and outside the design community,to make posters to stimulate debate on issues that affect us all. The organization is convinced that design and the design community can come together to help bring about positive change in people’s lives, either on an individual or a civic level. 4 Tomorrow’s latest project is Draw Me Democracy!, a campaign for human rights encouraging participation in civic and democraticinitiatives. The project consist of a series of workshops in 12 countries around the world: four in Latin America (Mexico, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia), four in Africa (Tunisia, Ghana, Kenya and Botswana), two in Eastern Europe (Georgia and Ukraine) and two in Asia (India and Pakistan). The main objectiveis to create awareness of democratic issues, whilst building the capacity for creative expression at an individual and institutional level.

The campaign aims to achieve its objectives by bringing the tools of up-to-date technology and vision to both designers and civil society organizations in these countries, with women’sempowerment as a core priority.In addition to a poster workshop, participants will also be trained in advocacy advertising, social networking and responsible communication. These workshops will be accessible to a large number of participants. One-year follow-ups will then be organized targeting smaller groups in order to consolidate the learning and enlarge the network. After 18 months, a second round of one-week workshops will take place in four countries, identified according to urgency and topicality.

Potential Impact

The potential impact of Draw Me Democracy! lies in its innnovativestrategy of leveraging improved design and visual communicationtechniques to multiply the influence and reach of social messaging, while at the same time building the indigenous capacity of civil society organizations in developing countries. In an age of global and digital communications, this will serve to empower these groups and improve their ability to advocate for essential governance reforms from the ground up.The first phase of implementation of Draw Me Democracy! will conclude shortly (with an exhibition in December). Project organizers are therefore currently planning and raising funds for a second edition. The long-run objective is to create self-sustaining local networks connecting young talent and civil society leaders empowered with practical tools to become more relevant in the social debate of their own countries, while at the same time challenging the dominance of top-down media.

Social Value

Emerging and developing countries are slowly but steadily adding social network users. This is a crucial change in the communication landscape as this new way of spreading ideas - truly democratic and open - has become increasingly relevant to challenges to traditional media outlets in the last two years (and most visibly, during the ‘Arab Spring’). The social movements that were able to make the most of this shift were at the forefront of a wave of reforms that accelerated the transition towards forms of democratic government in many countries. Beyond praising technology, the organizers of Draw Me Democracy! suggest the lesson we should take from such events is that if we want to create a better world, there has never been a better moment than the present to become socially conscious.

More precisely, by taking an active role in the democratic processand being an agent for positive change. For 4 Tomorrow, design has the potential to deliver greater social value by playing an instrumental role in bolstering the message, and there foresocietal reach, of social movements. Ideas often need a structure and substance to be more easily shared, spread and understood. Artists, designers and communicators have an important role in providing the words and images that encapsulate what others may feel but are unable to express.



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