CIA design students take on mapping project for the homeless community

Three industrial design students at the Cleveland Institute of Art have spent the past two semesters exploring Cleveland’s homeless community and its facilities. As a result of their research, they designed and developed pocket-sized resource maps for the 5,700 homeless individuals and families in Cleveland.
The year-long class was titled projectFIND: People + Shelter + Food + Mapping. The three students – David Acosta, Alex Constantin and Sami Piercy – presented their map to a focus group yesterday, along with CIA faculty member and Bialosky and Partners Architects designer Sai Sinbondit.
ProjectFIND will eventually distribute individual maps to each homeless shelter in Cleveland. Each map includes the address and photos of the shelter, maps detailing the location of the shelter, bus and walking routes and services offered at the shelter.
“We all immersed ourselves within this world and along the way we met lots of wonderful, interesting people,” Sinbondit told the attendees, who represented CIA, community organizations and various agencies serving the homeless population. “Along the way, it changed all of us.”
The purpose of projectFIND was to engage with the community and understand the issues facing the homeless. Piercy said the experience has prompted her to consider a career path around the project. “I've always been interested in social impact design,” she said. “The project made me want to work more with it and I want to do something like that when I graduate.”
The hope is that the work done by projectFIND this year will lead to continued partnerships and a more extensive mapping program. Sinbondit says the project is only 90 percent complete, but will continue to move forward. The next step is to take in today’s feedback, then go back to the homeless community for additional feedback. Then several hundred maps will be printed and distributed through shelters, libraries, churches and community centers.  
ProjectFIND will continue next year.  “Mapping will always continue along with the relationship with the homeless individuals and shelter providers,” says Sinbondit. “Next year's projectFIND will focus on three organizations that deal with various versions of displacements, homeless individuals, Cleveland new refugee populations and cancer patients.”
Sinbondit says the maps and the homeless landscape will be revisited every other year for feedback and updates.
ProjectFIND was held as part of CIA’s Community Works: Artist as Social Agent, classes designed by faculty to engage students in addressing social and environmental problems The Murphy Family Foundation helped pay for the printing costs of the resource maps. 

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.