Designing Outreach

By Becca Holdhusen

Before this year, I’ve always attributed nonprofits in Bozeman to the conservation realm. Even though I knew I’d be serving at the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) with Energy Corps, I still expected to be thinking about environmentally centric problems. The Energy Program at the HRDC is, as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, focused on emergency energy assistance and doesn’t necessarily take an overtly “green” stance on the services provided (even though weatherization is a mechanism for lowering energy usage). Throughout my service term, I’ve reconceptualized my understanding of nonprofit work in Montana communities. I’ve spent most of my time thinking about outreach strategies to rural communities, the importance of food security, and the multi-faceted approach to building sustainable communities through dialogue and area-specific development projects.

Throughout my term, and especially in the last couple months, I’ve taken on most of the graphic design needs for the HRDC. This role allows me to familiarize myself with all of the programs under the HRDC umbrella. In the last month, I’ve designed recruitment materials for the Head Start preschool program, created a map that shows the connection of free bus routes to trail networks, put together a brochure for Senior Programs, and designed a logo for Blueprint – the HRDC program to house and mentor youth experiencing homelessness. From a personal standpoint, I love design and always have. When I was 11, I bought a book titled, “Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface.” I am notorious for my obsession with color theory and typography, but in college I geared myself toward the sciences and humanities while studying biology and environmental studies. Energy Corps, an explicitly environmentally focused service program, made sense for me. Instead, these last six months have shifted my focus away from the scientific realm of outreach and understanding and towards the importance of communications and design when working towards building sustainable communities.

Design is a powerful tool, and I am grateful I have had the opportunity to push myself to think more critically about it. Cohesive messaging and branding for a nonprofit as large as the HRDC is vital, especially for recognition across the range of communities served. I have spent a surprising amount of time thinking about color schemes and font choices, but ultimately, recognize that effective outreach materials do important work for garnering community support for HRDC programs and keeping potential customers, volunteers, and donors looped into the services the HRDC provides. As my six months as an Energy Corps member comes to a close, I am more inclined to pursue design work when considering my next step. Although I am not sure what that will look like completely, I am excited to continue thinking about the ways art, language, and science can all merge to create a better understanding of the creative solutions we can work towards when facing complex problems in the world.

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