Our friends over at New Jersey Future launched a photo contest yesterday to help capture what “smart growth” looks like in New Jersey, with the grand prize winner receiving $500. NJ Future’s Dan Fatton is taking part in Dodge’s new “Public Image” Technical Assistance workshops and discusses how his experience in the workshop helped lead to the photo contest. Read on:
By Dan Fatton
Outreach and Development Director
New Jersey Future
As a smart growth research and advocacy organization, New Jersey Future sometimes has a difficult time describing our work. There are not many easy illustrations for smart growth concepts. In an effort to meet this challenge as well as to give careful consideration to our organization’s identity, two colleagues and I attended the introductory session of the Dodge Foundation’s Public Image workshop series, facilitated by Ennis Carter from Design for Social Impact.
As an opening ice-breaker, we went around the room introducing ourselves and each attendee was asked to identify a campaign that stuck out in their memory. Many of the examples other attendees offered were broadcast commercial PSAs like Woodsy Owl and Smokey the Bear.
I had a hard time identifying just one example, so I insisted on picking two. Both of the campaigns that resonated with me were participatory in nature. 350.org has done some really innovative things with their campaigns, but on the eve of the U.N. climate talks in Cancun, they did a really remarkable job mobilizing grassroots efforts and garnering media attention with climate art from around the world. My second example was the I Am Trenton Community Foundation campaign to highlight residents’ success stories and build pride in the city with positive examples from real life.
Upon further reflection, I have realized another reason these campaigns were so powerful to me: images. The use of images in both of these campaigns gave face to two seemingly abstract issues: climate change and community pride.
Through the Public Image workshop series, New Jersey Future has a newfound appreciation for the power of images. We are pleased to announce, therefore, that we are launching a smart growth photo contest. We are inviting artists, students and anyone interested to submit original artwork representing smart growth themes such as walkable communities, vibrant civic spaces, alternative transportation (walking, biking, public transit), preserved farms and natural spaces, by Friday, May 27 for the chance to win cash prizes.
We will announce the grand prize winner at our 10th Smart Growth Awards in June, and each category winner will be recognized at the award ceremony.
Good luck! We can’t wait to see your entries.