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July 28, 2022

Physical Connections and Developments — Lucia Li, BFA ID ’24

by luciali888

Physical Connections and Developments — Lucia Li, BFA ID ’24

Hello again!

I’ve settled into a comfortable rhythm between the two different sides of my work with Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ), and have been able to exercise some familiar designer muscles while also pushing myself to experiment with designing for education, outreach, and advocacy. So far, I’ve worked to develop digital materials for organizational development to bolster and consolidate LEJ’s public image. Also, I’ve continued to commute in person to southeast San Francisco to tag along with some of the programming that LEJ hosts for their resident “Eco-Apprentices,” a workforce-development program that trains young adults for future green careers.

A view of the Community Garden, with some new boxes being installed (redwood).

As I learned more about LEJ and its operations, I started consolidating this knowledge into physical products to help with outreach for their programs. This was something we had discussed from the beginning — my directors were incredibly excited to have physical materials that they could use while tabling at community events or when networking with SFUSD school teachers and administration. The first of these materials is a simple brochure that highlights some of the environmental education opportunities LEJ offers for inner-city youth, for whom the chance to recreate in nature is a rare treat. By bringing these programs into a physical, visual and easily-accessible medium, I hope to help bridge the technological gaps present in the local community and bring opportunities to access green space to more local youths. 

Additionally, I recently worked alongside both LEJ and representatives from CA State Parks to help bring a several-year-ongoing interpretive board project to a close. The boards will highlight green infrastructure in the community garden and provide enduring information about LEJ — a part of a new stage of revitalization to Candlestick Point after closures and roadblocks that had been inflicted by the pandemic. If all proceeds according to plan, the boards should be installed by the end of August, and hopefully I’ll be able to see them before returning to RISD in the fall.

Process for the brochure.

I briefly mentioned the Eco-Apprentice program before, but to elaborate: the EAs learn a wide variety of workforce-development skills to prepare them for future careers in education, advocacy, and stewardship. Among other things they conduct field experiments at sites of environmental and historical note, restore native coastal wetland habitat, and lead interpretive nature programming — all brought together by immersive, collaborative programs with other community organizations and the youth they serve. Over the summer, I’ve grown quite close to, and have learned so much from this cohort of Eco-Apprentices — and am so grateful for all the wonderful experiences and knowledge they’ve shared with me.

Throughout a lot of this process as I’ve been thinking about the outreach side of my work, a similar theme has come up again and again — access.

When speaking with LEJ’s executive director Dr. Hollis Pierce-Jenkins, she mentioned that an issue she’s noticed when working to expand LEJ’s outreach efforts is that a lot of the lower-income, BIPOC members of the local Bayview Hunters Point community are very “old school” — relying largely on word of mouth and physical notices to communicate about community happenings. In an era where social media marketing is king and in person events of all sorts have been so heavily impacted by COVID-19, how do you appeal to both young people interested in environmental issues but also the local community with limited tech access? Even broader, who is your target audience — tech-savvy young people who might be from the broader SF community, or the people right next door? LEJ has grappled with this conflict for quite some time, Dr. Hollis said to me, especially when trying to draw in more involvement from the latter group of people. As such, I had to pivot to focus a lot more on analog — paper materials and connecting face-to-face — at community events. 

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