Cultural design is always a challenge. Particularly when working across a variety of cultures within one project. Working with the Chehalem Cultural Center and community representatives from throughout the region to create and brand an art trail that connects the North and South neighborhoods of Newberg, OR has been long, slow process, but it has also been a wonderful opportunity to take part in cultural discussions and help craft the vision for this large, community-driven project.

Cultural Design: proposed symbols for the visual vocabulary.
Start symbol kit for the brand, borrowing from cultures and imagery commonly seen in the region. Each installation of artwork also will expand the vocabulary of the project.

Visualizing Changes in Oregon

Like most of Oregon and the United States, Newberg is going through a cultural shift. It has long been a rural community but has been slowly developing into a more residential and even suburban environment on account of the extensive wine tourism. Land prices have continued moving upward; original community members are finding it harder to afford living in town. On top of this backdrop, there is an increasing diversification of the community.

With that knowledge, the trail is poised to help connect the community, reuniting some of the subdivisions that have occurred as a result of growth and installing art that speaks to the history and culture of the many vibrant communities that have shaped Newberg’s history.

Cultural Design: Early Concept for Plaques for the Signage. Language not real.
The language on this example plaque is simply testing out the accents featured in the type.

Designing With Grand Ronde and Other Local Groups

The first two communities we have been working with have been representatives of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde as well as a more organically organized collection of people interested in establishing a work that speaks to the influence of Mexican American culture in the region. Working to think about how one might engage in cultural design that speaks to history and establishes strong standards without forcing a singular aesthetic on each group has been exciting.

During our meetings, we have realized how important it is to spend time listening and to create spaces and opportunities to step into leadership. Rather than forcing the conversation to places we want it, we have focused on inviting leaders to organize groups of people and propose sculptural installations or ideas for contributions to the trail. Our core team then works to think through logistics, funding, timeline, and production.

We are still early on the process and expect the full project to be an effort of many years, but already, we can see the value. Send me a note if you want more info or to connect about this or related projects.