Iconathon: a New Design Initiative to add Civic Symbols to the Public Domain

We are very excited to tell you about our recent partnership with Code for America, a non-profit organization that pairs passionate web talent with city governments to make government more open, efficient, participatory and civicly engaged.  Our initiative is to collaboratively design a new set of civic symbols for the public domain.

What We’re Doing

In August & September 2011, several cities across the US will participate in a series of design charrettes — day-long collaborative workshops — called “Iconathons”.  The aim of Iconathon is to add to the public domain a set of graphic symbols that can be used by both the public and the private sectors to easily communicate universally recognized concepts to a diverse group of people.

Iconathon events will include design charrettes, workshops and networking opportunities for designers, urban planners, city staffers and developers, and anyone who is passionate about civic design. Participants will sketch ideas and concepts during the events, and refine them from their home or design studios while continuing the collaboration process through social media.  See CFA’s practice run here.  All designs will be submitted to The Noun Project so we can curate them based on technical and stylistic guidelines.  Any symbol that fits the design standards will be uploaded to our site for anyone to use.

Why We’re Doing It

With America being in the midst of a fast-paced demographic shift, and US census showing growing diversity, the government has a new challenge of quickly and efficiently communicating its services to a constantly evolving constituent base made of different cultures, ages, religions, and languages. Symbols serve as an integral part of overcoming this communication barrier, and are already widely used throughout various public spaces to represent objects and ideas within education, health caretransportation, and recreation. Through facilitated design sessions, Iconathon participants will generate icons and symbols that visually convey concepts frequently needed in civic design. The symbols created can be used in new civic web applications, printed materials and in public signage.

More Iconathon Event Details

Each city hosting an Iconathon will have it’s own theme that will include about 30-50 civic concepts to design.  Iconathon will kick off on August 6th at CFA’s headquarters in San Francisco, and will include events in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and possibly Boston and Seattle. Below are each city’s themes:

San Francisco: 311 (service for SF City’s residence)

Los Angeles: Food & Nutrition

Chicago: Democracy

Boston: Education

New York: Transportation

We hope you will attend an Iconathon in your city, or participate by contributing your own civic-minded symbol.  Do you want to come to an Iconathon event but are worried you can’t draw?  Don’t fret, read this and come along!

If you would like to sponsor an Iconathon, please email us a tinfo@thenounproject.com.

For more information and updates go to http://iconathon.org or follow us on Twitter @Iconathon.  Please send any questions or comments about Iconathon to iconathon@codeforamerica.org.

Design for GOOD 🙂

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