The Project

Believe it or not, my Design Origin Story is pretty unglamorous. Some would call it downright hardscrabble. I taught myself graphic design. I first worked my business skills on the mean streets of Craigslist. But not unlike Han Solo, this grizzled ol’ renegade has always had a softness for a those in need. In 2011, something popped up on my radar that I couldn’t look away from: a post on Craigslist asking for print and branding design for a small, direct action nonprofit based in New Orleans and operating internationally, providing relief to disfranchised refugees and high-poverty communities in Southeast Asia.

That nonprofit is One World Family. Its heads are Mark Lamaire and Eva Sohl. And their flagship program, the Lahu Education Initiative, a program that sends school bus drivers to rural villages in Northern Thailand, is where I entered their story. Mark was looking for a print designer to help communicate the dire needs of the Lahu people. This turned into developing their entire branding and web presence, grant applications, and, eventually, the branding and menu and wayfinding design for their next, connected venture. Mark and Eva brought back recipes and ideas from their mission trips to fuel Lahpet, a popup kitchen which helps fund the work of One World Family. It’s named for Burma’s signature street food, lahpet thote, a salad of fermented tea leaves and other fried and fresh goodies. If you’ve never had Burmese food before, I guarantee you are in for some surprises.

Now, just because it’s pro bono doesn’t mean it’s cut-rate. (That’s what makes it a passion project.) I consider myself invested in OWF and the outcomes for the people it helps, so I’ve poured a lot of research and creativity into these works. As Mark commented, “The logos and branding that she has done for both One World Family and Lahpet have been crucial in the success of these ventures. She pays attention to detail and is not afraid to dig in to a project; an example of this is when she found patterns used in the textile designs of tribes we work with in Asia and then incorporated those designs into One World Family design work.”

One World Family’s next mission trip is happening this month; as always, they’ll be distributing clothes, blankets, and school supplies, and making arrangements with drivers to ensure the education of the most disadvantaged of children. If you’re feeling an itch of the do-gooder passion I have for Mark and Eva’s endeavor, you can make a donation safely and quickly through Paypal or Network for Good.

-Julia

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