Thursday, March 19, 2009

AIGA DC’s 2009 Continuum Fund Event Recap

The Design Continuum Fund: An AIGA DC Endowment for Design Education held its second annual event on March 11, 2009 at The Art Institute of Washington. Those who attended the event are founding members of the fund and official members of the 2008-2009 Continuum Circle. (The Continuum Circle is comprised of donors who make cumulative pledges of or exceeding $350 per year to the Continuum Fund).

This year's festivities included a wine pairing and tasting from Chef Michael Roll. He serves as chef/instructor for the à la carte class which staffs The Art Institute of Washington's restaurant, Culinaire. Everyone was greeted at the table with a placemat describing the wines and a special Continuum Fund button to mark the occasion. I'm not much of a drinker, but I did sample sips to participate. We savored two white wines and two red wines from Chile and Argentina. Many people were interested in fielding questions to Michael and learn about all things wine in the Q&A! It definitely was a fun and enjoyable experience and I hope everyone gained some wine knowledge.

After Michael's demonstration, we settled in for presentations from many people who helped launch the fund last year. This included our chapter president, Mira Azarm, who reported last year's activities and our upcoming objectives. Former chapter president Emily Carr spoke about expanding the fund and the importance of its founding members. Jill Spaeth explained that we are working to create a culture of philanthropy. Pat Taylor stood up and talked about giving back to society. Beth Singer mentioned that this small group of forty people has already made such a tremendous difference in the lives of young designers and the community.

One of the most moving moments of the night was Rodney Williams introducing the two past Tom Suzuki Scholarship recipients, Joseph Cabato and Alfredo Ramirez. It was amazing to physically see where scholarships are going to. I could tell both Joseph and Alfredo have passion for the design industry. They work several jobs and save what they can in order to attend school to study design. Joseph talked about his relatives in the Philippines and how they knew from a young age that he would be connected to the arts. Alfredo was very grateful in his freestyle speech about how the scholarship has helped assist his education.

Our event this year raised $6,900 and it could not have happened without the efforts of many great contributors in our local community. In the words of Mira, "Look forward to seeing this fund grow bigger and stronger every year." It started with some simple thoughts, but now it has grown by the willingness of our design community to give. I plan to stay on as Continuum Chair for our 2009-2010 programming season, and there are many initiatives I plan to ignite for the fund. One is the AIGA DC Continuum Fund Button Campaign to raise funds for the scholarship! We plan to ask several designers to design sets of 1.25" buttons that will be available for donations at upcoming AIGA DC events. Tamera Lawrence, who designed the Continuum Fund materials, created the first button design for our March 11 event. Stanley Hainsworth has designed five buttons which we plan to have available on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at "Stanley Hainsworth: 10 in 20" at the Corcoran. We hope you can join us there and donate to AIGA DC's Continuum Fund for a button... or two... or the full set!

I know many people can not afford to give a few hundred dollars, especially in the current economy, but there are other ways to give back and help support our industry and its future. One way is to volunteer with AIGA DC. That is how I got to know the board and become more involved. It helps to have an activity outside of work and forced me to talk to people instead of being shy. That was one of my personal incentives for volunteering... to open myself up and meet wonderful people. When you give of yourself, there are some rewards in making yourself a better person. You can also volunteer with other non-profits in the area to give back to your community or use your design skills on a pro bono project while building your portfolio and showcasing your skills! There are tons of ways to give or make a difference and they don't always have to revolve around money.

Another way to help our design community out is to inform local high school or college students and design educators about the scholarship. The scholarship application is due Friday, April 3, 2009, so please get the word out as soon as possible. Details can be found at:

If you would like more information about AIGA DC's Continuum Fund Scholarship or have questions about donating to AIGA DC's Continuum Fund, please email

To view more images from the 2009 Continuum Fund Event, visit the AIGA DC Flickr account:

Special thanks goes out to Joe Carabeo of Astray Productions for photographing the event!

Carolyn Belefski
Continuum Chair, AIGA DC