Making Policy Public
Projects by the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), a nonprofit organization that uses design and art to improve civic engagement
The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), a nonprofit organization based in New York, uses design and art to improve civic engagements. For this issue, we have selected five projects from their Making Policy Public series of foldout posters that use graphic design to explain public policy so that more individuals can better participate in shaping it. Published four times a year, each poster is the product of a collaboration of a designer, an advocate, and CUP.
KNOW YOUR LINES
Know Your Lines goes behind the scenes of the largely invisible redistricting process in which politicians often get to choose their voters, instead of the other way around. Who’s actually drawing the lines? What does the shape of a district mean? What does a good redistricting process look like?
CUP collaborated with the Brennan Center for Justice and design team We Have Photoshop to produce Know Your Lines, a fold-out poster on the ins and outs of redistricting and how to make it work better. If you care about political power, representation, or public policy, then you care about redistricting.
Know Your Lines is aimed at helping communities and advocacy groups across the country to understand how they can play a role in making the redistricting process fairer, more transparent, and more accountable to the public. CUP and the Brennan Center launched the project with an outreach event for “grasstops,” the leaders of community groups who are now using this information in their own organizing work.
The Brennan Center
We Have Photoshop
BARRIERS TO REENTRY
More than 1 in 5 adults in the United States has a criminal record, and those with criminal records often cannot find a job because they are perceived as a risky hire.
The truth is that many people with a criminal record are no more likely to commit a crime than people without a record. Many criminal records were a result of minor offenses, or offenses committed a long time ago. The Fortune Society wanted a poster that told the stories of formerly incarcerated people and the difficulties they face when trying to reenter the workforce, so they teamed up with CUP and designer Sara McKay as a part of CUP’s Making Policy Public program to create Barriers to
Barriers to Reentry explains Article 23-A of New York’s Corrections Law, which requires employers to consider the criminal record of a potential employee in the context of other factors – like how old they were when the offence occurred, or
whether the offence is relevant to the job duties. It is in fact illegal to not hire someone only because of a criminal record.
This year, the Fortune Society successfully advocated for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to release an updated and improved set of guidelines for employers on the use of criminal background checks in hiring. CUP is proud to say that Barriers to Reentry was a critical tool in their year-long advocacy campaign. Congratulations to The Fortune Society!
The Fortune Society
Glen E. Martin
During the housing boom, a new breed of speculator used private equity and oversized bank loans to buy up affordable housing. They tried to make a quick profit by converting it to luxury housing – putting over 65,000 families and their affordable apartments at risk. Post-crash, these predatory equity speculators can’t pay off their loans or sell their buildings. Foreclosure looms.
Predatory Equity: The Survival Guide explains the financial mechanics of predatory equity and how to prevent it from happening again in the next boom. It provides tenants, advocates, and policymakers with information on tools like loan modifications and preservation short sales to save the hundreds of buildings in imminent danger of foreclosure.
This poster is being used by dozens of housing advocacy organizations to break down the math behind this predatory practice.
Tenants and Neighbors
Did you know you can get a $1,000 ticket for parking more than 18 inches from the curb? When you’re earning an average of $14,000 a year, as many of New York City’s street vendors do, that can really get in the way of making a living.
In 2009, The Street Vendor Project, designer Candy Chang, and CUP created this issue of Making Policy Public to decode the rules and regulations for New York’s 10,000 street vendors so they can understand their rights and avoid unnecessary fines.The poster uses simple graphics and minimal text — in the five languages most commonly spoken among NYC’s vendors — to explain some of the most-often violated laws.
CUP and Street Vendor Project staff and volunteers launched the project with a sweep through the five boroughs to distribute over a thousand copies of the poster in a single day. The document’s portable format makes it easy for vendors to keep them on-hand. Street Vendor Project members tell us they even show them to police when there’s a question about a specific law!
Street Vendor Project has distributed thousands of copies to its members, and other organizations that deal with street vendor issues are using them, too.
The Street Vendor Project
THE CARGO CHAIN
The Cargo Chain is an organizing tool for longshore workers that shows the players and pressure points in today’s globalized shipping network. How do commodities get from factory to shopping mall? Who really has the power to move today’s global economy?
CUP worked with the Longshore Workers Coalition; Labor Notes; cartographer Bill Rankin; and graphic designers, Thumb, to create this fold out poster which shows how cargo moves around the world, from the factory, to the store, to your hands. The poster helps Longshore workers understand their role within the interlocking transportation network by visualizing the choke points in the system.
The publication has been used by longshore workers’ unions across the country, as well as the Railworkers’ Network. The steelworker’s union has used the poster as a model for their international solidarity project with the West Coast longshore workers, dockworkers in Australia, and miners in South Africa and Australia. Over a thousand copies have been distributed to union leaders through the Labor Notes conferences.
The Longshore Worker’s Coalition (LWC)
Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is a nonprofit organization that uses design and art to improve civic engagement. CUP projects demystify the urban policy and planning issues that impact our communities, so that more individuals can better participate in shaping them.
www.welcometocup.org | @we_are_CUP