*Insert Final Blog Post Title Here* | Micah Epstein Industrial Design ’19
Okay, here we are at the end! I’m writing this post about a week after my last day at the Providence Department of Planning, looking back at what I would consider a successful fellowship!
So what did I accomplish?
My biggest professional accomplishment was definitely the traffic education campaign I made that details new traffic control devices (traffic signals and street markings) that are being introduced in Providence over the next couple of years.
Can you spot how I photoshopped the base image?
I’m proud of this project for a couple of reasons. I think I was able to find a happy medium between my personal aesthetic and the seriousness demanded by an official publication by a municipal department. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to design for a multi-lingual audience, the specifics of which I detailed in my last post. Finally, the posts using my graphics and language got quite a bit of exposure. I can’t take full credit – announcements of new developments are important and exciting in their own right – but I do think their strong visual presence helped to make them stick. Getting my work featured on the local news was a goal I didn’t even know I had!
Personally, I think my greatest accomplishment was the concepts this fellowship helped me grasp. When I went into this fellowship, my biggest goal was to have a vague understanding of “how stuff happens” in cities. Even with that broadness, I have a much better understanding of the timeline behind city projects. I know more about the complex web of funding (federal grants, the city’s general fund, and corporate sponsorship to name just a few) and politics (the influence city council, the mayor, and department heads have on different aspects of projects) that can get a project of the ground, stop it at the gate, or change its course (I’m writing this from the airport, please excuse my plane puns).
Not necessarily relevant, but I really enjoyed this city government-specific magnetic poem set on the office fridge.
I think the most personally valuable outcome of this summer was a better understanding of when, where, and how I could have the biggest impact with a career in municipal government. While I am happy with the projects I got to work on this summer, the timescale of many projects in city government is long, spanning years and sometimes decades. Becuase of this, I think if I want to actively make our cities more equitable (and believe me, I do!!) I should be prepared for the long haul.
If I had to use one word to describe my summer, I would call it “enlightening.” When I am ready to settle down, mortgage a house, and iron out a morning routine, I know that municipal government is a place where I can make a difference. Until then, I have a lot of work to do and a lot still to learn.
Thanks for reading!