We’re continuing our series of Q&A’s with the participants of the Get Out the Vote: Design + Community Project with OCA Greater Cleveland.
In the 2012 election, only 47.3% of eligible Asian American voted, compared to 64.1% of eligible white and 66.2% of eligible African American voters who voted. Why is Asian American voter turnout so low? And what can we do to encourage minorities to vote?
OCA Greater Cleveland is the local chapter of a national membership driven, non-profit, non-partisan civil rights and educational organization dedicated to the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States.
For the Q&A with OCA we spoke to president, Lisa Wong.
Q: What messages around voting do you want to convey to the audiences that you reach?
A: OCA Greater Cleveland wants to motivate and inspire the Asian Pacific American (APA) community to register and vote. The APA community is very diverse and many immigrant families come from countries where voting was not an option for them. We want to instill in the APA community that voting is their right as an American citizen. We want them to know that they can have a voice in the political process through their vote.
Q: In what ways do you think design will be able to help you speak to your audience?
A: Design has a way of speaking to people that goes beyond just words. Images and design can bring about feelings and emotions that can move people. We hope that this design will be an inspiration and source of pride that will motivate the community to be more politically involved and vote.
Q: What made you want to participate in this project?
A: Voting is so vitally important that we embraced the opportunity to collaborate with a professional designer to develop targeted multilingual messaging that would be meaningful and relevant to our community to compliment our civic engagement goals.
ABOUT DESIGNER ALY DODDS
Aly Dodds is a designer, illustrator, and professional snacker currently working in downtown Cleveland for Karen Skunta & Company. She moved to Ohio in 2014 after getting a BA in graphic design from Columbia College in Chicago. When she’s not working full time and freelancing on the fly, you can find her netflixing the highly underrated Frasier and tending to her jungle of houseplants.
Q: Did you walk into your first meeting with OCA with any pre-existing notions or ideas of how you might be able to reach their audience?
A: I entered the first meeting with the intention of learning everything I possibly could about OCA as an organization, as well as the target audience in mind- Asian Pacific Americans. Having done extensive research beforehand, I had so many questions! I really wanted to know more about their overall mission and the challenges they face in regards to voter engagement within the Asian American community. I knew if I could gauge what voter outreach methods were effective and which ones weren’t, I could start playing with ideas that could better engage the audience.
Q: How did you interpret the message of OCA in one cohesive design/message?
A: It was important to me to gain an understanding of the core values of OCA and the people they serve in order to communicate effectively. While the OCA began as the “Organization of Chinese Americans”, their demographic extends far beyond just Chinese Americans. OCA embraces the growing diversity within the Asian Pacific American community here in Cleveland, providing invaluable resources to people of all backgrounds.
I knew I wanted to celebrate this diversity through my design, but finding a way to deliver a message that translated to the vast array of cultures, languages, religions and histories in this community proved to be my biggest challenge. I eventually developed a language based solution aimed at the 6 largest asian ethnic groups in the U.S. –Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, & Japanese.
Q: In what ways do you hope your designs might impact the organization’s audience?
A: I really hope to reinforce the idea that voters have this tremendous right and they should use it. While Asian Americans are the fastest growing population in the U.S. alone, they are also one of the most underrepresented and politically marginalized groups in America. With this in mind, I wanted the poster to function as a positive affirmation that prompted them to consider the importance of their vote, to seek out the countless resources available to them through OCA, and make their voices heard on election day.
Q: Did you resonate with the organization in any way or have any close connection that made you excited to work with OCA in particular?
A: What made me excited to work with OCA was the fact that I would be thrusted into a community that was completely unfamiliar to me–and I had so much to learn! I was really looking forward to getting to know Lisa Wong, the president of OCA, and hearing about her own unique perspective growing up in Cleveland as an Asian American and how that shaped her active role in the community today. Taking the time to really understand each other’s goals for the project really allowed us to tackle ways we could use design to chip away at the cultural barriers that exist within the American political landscape.
A special thank you to OCA and Aly for being a part of the Design + Community project. There is still more behind the scenes video footage, interviews, and photos to come with OCA and Aly so keep your eyes on the AIGA Cleveland blog and social media.
Special Thanks to
NEOCH, The League of Women Voters, OCA, Thomas Dang, Nolan Beck, & Aly Dodds