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From St. Paul to Zanzibar: Outreach slam showcases U of M designers' off-campus legwork

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A group of staff and faculty members from the University of Minnesota's College of Design got a chance to show off their local and global projects at the school's recent design outreach slam.  

Following five-minute presentations, the designers' colleagues at the college got to pick first- and second-place winners, who received $1,000 and $500, respectively, for professional development purposes, explains organizer Brad Hokanson, the associate dean for research and outreach at the school.  

In the mix was everything from sustainable design initiatives in rural Minnesota to rebuilding efforts in Haiti.

Landscape architect Rebecca Krinke was the audience's top pick for her public art project that includes a three-dimensional map of the Twin Cities; it shows places that represent joy and pain in individuals' lives, which audience members jumped in to help identify, Hokanson says.

The interactive map, he says, made for "deep conversations, engaging people with the process of their lives."

Jim Lutz, who came in second place, is bringing students to Haiti this spring. In collaboration with the American Red Cross, the small group will design a couple of grade schools, which they'll get up and running in an eight-week window. Students will prepare by taking some special courses at the university beforehand.  "It's a real immersion program," says Hokanson.   

Other presentations shed light on development and decay in East Africa's Zanzibar; good and bad inner city housing in the Twin Cities; and the efforts to digitize holdings at the school's Goldstein Museum of Design in St. Paul, among others.  

Part of the reason for doing the Nov. 12 slam, Hokanson says, was to highlight the wide-ranging work that the school is a part of, work that extends far beyond the campus. Insiders in the school often "only know what [they're] doing," he says. "This was a way for people to find out about what other people are doing."

Additionally, he says, their good work "shows the benefits of being here."

Source: Brad Hokanson, University of Minnesota College of Design, associate dean for research and outreach
Writer: Anna Pratt

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