Occupy Design is a grassroots project connecting designers with on-the-ground demonstrators in the Occupy Together movement. The project’s goal is to create freely available visual tools around a common graphic language to unite the 99%. The project places an emphasis on producing infographics and icons to improve the communication of the movement’s messages and the data surrounding them across the world.
The site includes a showcase of existing designs, a how-to guide for demonstrators, a graphic toolkit for designers, and a platform for the community to suggest ideas for designs. The project was created in less than 24 hours October 14-15 weekend by a team of designers, programmers, artists, and demonstrators in San Francisco as part of three concurrent creative hackathons across the country to support Occupy Together.
As part of their planning process, team members spoke with demonstrators from Occupy San Francisco, who gave pointed insight into their on-the-ground needs, and reiterated the value of well-designed, universal signage. The project focuses on three main areas – infographic protest signs to bring data visualization to the street; logistical signs to streamline occupations; and a set of custom-designed, open-source visual icons around social justice themes. The focus on infographics stemmed from the desire to bring graphic representation of statistical evidence to the forefront of the movement on the ground – rather than being limited to independent computer screens.
We are also inspired by The Noun Project, which collects, organizes and adds to the highly recognizable symbols that form the world’s visual language, so we may share them in a fun and meaningful way. We custom-design many of our icons, and also pull in relevant imagery from many sources, including The Noun Project.
OccupyDesign is an independent, unaffiliated, and nonpartisan grassroots initiative.
Last weekend, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C. hosted spontaneous “Hackathons” to brainstorm how to use various platforms to help Occupy Wall Street. One of the ideas hatched was Occupy Design, a new website that gives a “visual language” to protesters across the country. Jake Levitas, a designer from San Francisco who’s heading up the project, says it’s a chance to fight back at media who characterize the movement as directionless.
“These are people who have valid concerns grounded in reality and grounded in data that can be communicated visually,” Levitas says. “If we get these signs on CNN instead of the ones that say ‘Screw capitalism’ on a piece of cardboard,” viewers don’t see a generic grievance but “exactly how people are being screwed and by how much. It’s a lot harder to argue with statistics than it is with talking points.”
The site provides big-think infographics that illustrate data on the wealth gap, symbols for overarching concepts like “justice” and “community,” and practical signs to use on the ground like “toilet” and “landfill.” Levitas says it’s a chance for designers and techies to contribute to the movement, even if they can’t make it to a protest.
“There’s all this untapped potential for people who are extremely talented,” he says. “It’s essentially a way to connect occupiers and designers. Everyone has a different role in this movement.”