Local Artisanal Currency Project
By: Evie Caldwell
During fall 2019, students in both sections of professor Kristin Becker’s DTC 336: Multimedia Design class collaborated with community partners to create currency notes for local businesses. The project was inspired by real-world local currencies like the BerkShares of the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. Each group of students was assigned a community partner and a single bill to design. The first section of DTC 336 partnered with Poppy Salon, Omache Farm, Kamiak Coffee, Palouse Juice, and Paradise Creek Brewery. The second section partnered with Smoot’s Flavor Farm, Clumsy Crow Baking, Three Forks Bike and Brew, Mantis Martial Arts, and Rico’s Pub.
Throughout the semester, groups conducted original field work, repeatedly visiting their businesses and collecting notes and photographs. They began with an initial interview in which they identified one specific process or aspect of the business to document in detail. For instance, the group working with Smoot’s Flavor Farm chose to focus on the herb drying process, while the group working with Clumsy Crow Baking chose to focus on pretzel making.
Once each group had selected a focus, they returned to take pictures, record written notes, and look for specific tools or techniques unique to the business. Next, the students compiled simple presentations of their photos and notes and returned to their businesses for one final photo elicitation interview. Photo elicitation is an interviewing technique in which images are used to prompt comments from the subject. The students showed the community partners their findings and recorded anything they had missed or left out.
Drawing on their visual notes, the students each proposed icons, a pattern, and a color scheme to be used for their bill design. Groups were encouraged to look past the established logos, symbols, and colors used by the businesses and base their designs solely on their documentation. Each group selected one set of assets to work from, and everyone designed a double-sided bill. Finally, the group members came back together to choose a bill from the options, and presented their choices and process to their community partners on December 5, 2019, in the Bundy Reading Room. Everyone was pleased with the final designs. The DTC 336 students completed the project feeling more connected to the community and educated about the Palouse and its local businesses.
Have a community partnership opportunity you’d like to share with the Digital Technology and Culture program? Feel free to fill out this form and we’ll get back to you about possibly partnering with your organization.