This past weekend, Honolulu hosted the first-ever “IconLocal” in support of The Noun Project. The workshop brought together local designers and civic-minded geeks with local community service providers to develop a set of symbols and icons to support the homeless and the groups dedicated to helping them.
“IconLocal Hawaii” was organized by Hawaii Open Data, a civic-oriented tech nonprofit cofounded by Burt Lum, Jared Kuroiwa and me. Honestly, though, it was Burt who shepherded it from idea to reality, working for weeks to find the right mix of participants and partners.
Fortunately, he was able to connect with The Institute for Human Services and the Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness to bring in a number of subject matter experts. And Ben Trevino (of Interisland Terminal) and Angelica Rabang (president of AIGA Honolulu) were able to rally a number of local designers to volunteer their time and talents.
After a brief primer on symbolic design by Noun Project co-founder Edward Boatman (created especially for our event) and a review of several dozen themes of homelessness (from barriers to specific services), participants formed seven groups consisting of at least one designer, subject matter expert, and civic participant. For the next three hours, these groups brainstormed and sketched and ultimately presented the symbols and icons they’d developed.
Of course, the “IconLocal Hawaii” workshop was just the first critical step. Now the participating designers will need to collaborate to refine the design concepts into finished icons and symbols to submit to The Noun Project.
The Noun Project is an international movement to build a “global visual language that everyone can understand.” The Chicago-based group has hosted several “Iconathons” in which participants have developed simple, universal, high quality and royalty free symbols addressing issues ranging from transportation to human rights. And in May, The Noun Project added independently organized events called “IconLocals.”
As it turns out, Saturday’s “IconLocal” in Honolulu was the first one staged anywhere.