"We live in a world that is so saturated by design and branding that these homemade begging signs just get drowned out…We want people to see these signs, and be curious about the person holding it.”
The Signs for the Homeless project exchanges handwritten panhandling signs for colorfully illustrated, eye-catching recreations that aim to give the homeless a power that most of us take for granted: The power to be noticed.
I usually refrain from making an ass out of myself, but I wanted to comment on this program. My first point: the project already states the main issue: signage in general is oversaturating our visual landscapes. So why add more? I argue a handwritten sign has more unique characteristics than one created with a computer… but more about this later.
I’m not certain the focus of this program is as refined as it could be. My knee-jerk reaction is we’re turning the homeless into “Going Out Of Business Sale” or “Today’s Lunch Special” walking billboards. If the goal is to spark conversation about the problem, I’m not certain this sparks the reactive effect needed (if any).
I’m all for trying to help this situation. My question: wouldn’t it be better to spend time with each willing homeless person to teach them how to design, or some other skill, to help their situation rather than give them a sign created with the hippest fonts and a $20 handout?
At the very least, hand them the mouse. Let each person create his own signage. It’s more unique to him and at least he can feel more comfortable using something he created. I would suggest the ownership of the process creates a larger portion of pride and a stronger story for people to investigate and start that all important conversation…
I apologize for this rant. You may continue with your regularly scheduled scrolling.
So if you recall, I ranted about this.
Early this morning, I came across an article that perfectly illustrates the power of teaching rather than temporarily fixing for someone: “Experience: I taught a homeless man to code — ’When our project is over, I hope Leo will be offered a job somewhere’”
I offered him two options: I could either give him a laptop, and teach him how to write computer code, or give him $100 in cash.
He repeated my offer back to me, bewildered. He wasn’t sure what coding was, so I explained that it’s the language of computer programs; it shapes every game and app, and is the building block of all websites.
He told me his name was Leo, and accepted my offer.
"If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you -teach- a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime."