LA’s Iconathon: Why We’re Designing Food and Nutrition Symbols for the Public Domain

This Satuday, August 13th we’re hosting a design charrette (called an Iconathon) at LA’s Atwater Crossing to collaboratively design a new suite of symbols that represent concepts in Food & Nutrition.

So why are we doing this?  Because we want to help facilitate better and easier communication between communities and the food organizations working to improve consumption of healthy, nutritious, locally grown foods. Even though California leads the country in agricultural exports, very little of the food consumed in our state comes from within the 200-mile radius.*  Many low-income, immigrant, and communities of color lack access to high-quality, affordable foods – something that a lot of us take for granted.

Creating a new set of symbols based on ideas of healthy eating, locally-grown and nutritious foods will help to quickly and effectively communicate important concepts while overcoming any potentials language and education barriers when communicating to a diverse audience.

With America being in the midst of a fast-paced demographic shift, and US census showing growing diversity, both the government and NPO’s have a new challenge of quickly and effectively communicating their 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 care, transportation, and recreation.

To learn more about Iconathon’s in other cities, go to, and check out our previous blog post.  The symbols created as part of Iconathon will be used in new civic web applications, in printed materials and in public signage. All designs will be submitted to The Noun Project for curation based on technical and stylistic guidelines – any symbol that fits the design standards will be uploaded to our site for anyone to use.

Please Join Us this Saturday, August 13th!

The Beautiful Atwater Crossing space.

If you’re a Designer, a Foodie, or just someone with lots of great opinions – come join us this Saturday!  Although this is a design event, we welcome non-designers to participate and give valuable opinions about the effectiveness of the designs being created.  If you have a passion for bringing new civic symbols into the world, giving back to your city and being creative and collaborative with others – you should come to this Iconathon.

Amanda Shaffer from the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College will kick-off our event with an overview of Food & Nutrition issues as they pertain to the city of LA. Some of the concepts that we want to create symbols for are Farm to School, Veggie Vouchers, Community Garden, and many others.  Edward Boatman, co-founder and Creative Director of The Noun Project, will present on best symbol design practices.  We will be joined by our friends from Code for America, our partners in organizing Iconathons across the country.

RSVP for Saturday’s event here.

*To learn more about the aforementioned Food & Nutrition issues, read this great resource:

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