Minneapolis, MN — March 21, 2011 — How do you give high school students a voice around issues of tolerance? How do you give them the ability to learn, first hand, that a powerful message can have a positive impact in their local communities?

Give ’em a blank billboard and let them do the talking!

That’s exactly what has been accomplished at Washburn High School in Minneapolis by Create! Don’t Hate, a youth mentoring initiative that gives youth in underserved communities a real-world experience using design thinking to communicate their ideas, discover their potential, and take action in their communities.

Take a stroll past the familiar south Minneapolis corners of 48th and Chicago, 50th and Penn, or 38th and Nicollet and, perched high atop coffee shops and boutiques, you’ll be able to see the inspiring billboards created by Washburn High art students and their college-aged mentors.

For this initiative, the Minnesota chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, paired 20 Washburn art students with 20 graphic design students from Twin Cities colleges to create powerful public billboards that address the theme of tolerance in a variety of compelling and thought-provoking ways. This ten-week program was designed to give participating students the tools and guidance they need to create an impactful message which will have broad visibility in their community.

The Washburn students met weekly with their mentors during Tuesday morning classes taught by art teacher Nancy Hinz. “It has been an excellent opportunity for my students to collaborate with talented graphic design students while learning more about the design process and possible higher-education and career options,” said Hinz. “They are so excited about their work being displayed for the general public to see!”

Lisa Musselman, AIGA Minnesota project coordinator for Create! Don’t Hate, smiled when she commented that, “I don’t know who is more enthusiastic — the high school students or the college-aged mentors. This is definitely a win-win situation for everyone involved. There is lots of creative energy and inspiration going back and forth.”

One highlight occurred halfway through the project, when esteemed professional designers from the Twin Cities design community joined the mentor/mentee teams to offer constructive critiques. Then, during a celebration at the end of the project, they assisted in selecting several layouts to be produced and installed on billboards in the neighborhoods surrounding Washburn High.

The Create! Don’t Hate project is an initiative of Design Ignites Change, a nationwide program that challenges students to use design thinking and innovation to explore and create solutions to pressing social problems, and is funded by Adobe Youth Voices and Worldstudio. AIGA Minnesota, one of the nation’s oldest and largest professional design organizations, partnered with Adobe and Worldstudio to bring the project to the Twin Cities. To learn more, visit www.designigniteschange.org

Media Contacts/ Photo Opportunities:
Lisa Musselman
Create! Don’t Hate project manager, AIGA Minnesota
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Create Don't Hate at 50th & Penn

50th Street & Penn Avenue

38th Street and Nicollet Avenue

38th Street and Nicollet Avenue

Create Don't Hate 48th Street and Chicago Avenue

48th Street and Chicago Avenue

Contact Leadership

Emily McLaughlin
Emily McLaughlin
Director of Communications
Emily is a graphic designer and creative director based in Saint Paul, MN. She passionate about the potential for design to cultivate collaboration and cleave opportunities. As Communications Director of AIGA Minnesota, her emphasis is on supporting and engaging the design community while kindling new connections.