South Portland, Portland, ME

Contact Name
Andrew Griswold
Project Dates
January-December 2013
Technology, Design, Marketing, Networking
Greater Portland METRO and South Portland Bus Services now have a 12 month series of monthly passes that feature photos, visual art, and creative writing produced by Telling Room students with a web link to the Telling Room website. All buses feature a monthly pass poster behind the driver's seat that shows examples of the pass designs for the year. Riders on the 7 buses managed by South Portland Bus Services have the opportunity to read excerpts of South Portland Public Schools student writing on overhead signage and see a link to The Telling Room website.
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
The goals of the Bus Project were to find new audiences for K-12 students' creative writing, to expose new community members to The Telling Room, and to foster a sense of creativity in spaces that are not typically considered creative.
Have they changed over time?
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
Project stakeholders include:
The Telling Room
Maine Chapter of AIGA:the professional association for design
Creative Portland
City of South Portland Bus Service
Greater Portland METRO
South Portland and Portland Public School Officials
Student authors from South Portland and Portland Public Schools
Local Designer
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
-TR brainstorm meeting with AIGA about finding new audiences/venues for our students' published writing.
-AIGA introduced TR to Creative Portland who had a METRO Connection
-Creative Portland introduced TR to METRO connection
-TR and METRO brainstorm decides that TR will design monthly passes for the 2013 year and possibly interior bus signs with student writing if funding can be found to pay for sign printing and design
-TR staff designs 12 monthly passes
-TR asks AIGA to put out a call for volunteer designers for the interior signs
-TR selects designer based on portfolios submitted and works to refine interior sign design
-TR contacts school district leaders in South Portland and Portland to ask for funding
-TR selects student writing for interior signs
-TR submits passes and signs to METRO
-METRO accepts passes but rejects interior signs
-TR asks South Portland Bus Services to reconsider and they do
-New funding must be found for South Portland Bus Signs as funding had been cancelled after notification of rejection and the school department entered a spending freeze due to state curtailments
-TR offers to pay for the printing of the signs for South Portland
-Interior Signs are installed in 7 South Portland buses
Have they been refined over time?
Implementation was refined over time as described above
What were your major obstacles?
-Initial designs were not what we were looking for. This is typical of the design process and several iterations were created before a design for the signs was selected that we felt mirrored our organization.
-Questions from school department officials about choice of design.
-Hands down rejection of design and content by City of Portland Bus Services and Greater Portland Metro officials.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
-TR staff contacted Maine AIGA to ask for a local designer participating in the volunteer Design for Good initiative.
-TR staff contacted appropriate people in the school districts to ask for funding to print signs.
-TR staff worked with volunteer designer to refine the design.
-TR staff explained design concept to school department officials.
-TR staff person reached out to local METRO project contact to ask if South Portland Bus Service would reconsider.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
-Be clear about who has say over design content.
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
Approximately 1.3 riders each year use public South Portland and METRO buses and approximately 1200 passes are sold each month. All of these riders have the opportunity to interface with student writing through either signage or passes as well as by linking to The Telling Room website. All signs note that the students are public school students who have worked with The Telling Room.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
All goals were achieved except the number of buses with student writing on overhead signs shrunk from 39 to 7.
Were there unexpected impacts?
The project has just recently been launched. As of the time of this application the monthly passes are in effect but the interior signs are yet to be installed because of the obstacles described above.