Disaster relief tools are mostly outdated, expensive, and hard to use. Community organizers in New York City wanted to unify several open source platforms into a durable, customizable framework connecting large nonprofits and smaller cooperatives. I volunteered to design it.


I started with overall branding for the organization. Disaster relief is rewarding but heart-wrenching work, so I planned a bright rainbow of healing colors to overlay the dark or serious photography. Clear and friendly typography welcomed volunteers of all ages and skill levels.


The project scope was massive, so we split the design/development plan into four phases, based on the state of each tool (Wordpress multisite, WAGN wiki, CKAN data portal, and Sahana inventory system).

Information architecture was tricky; the navigation would be as many as five levels deep. I planned a collapsable top nav that wouldn’t intrude on each tool’s real estate.

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Design started with a promo site, to explain the project to potential donors and volunteers. I helped strategize and write content, designed a single page overview with a startup feel, and built simple subpages that the organizers could continue to fill out.

The next priority was a Wordpress Multisite, so that each group could have its own customizable website. I made the main theme neutral, to serve any project that forked it, and kept the NYCP styling as a separate part of the Sass library.

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Working with Patricia Lutz on backend, I revised the theme I’d designed and helped build for Occupy Sandy. The blog and calendar aggregated content from all the different grassroots groups, and I used Isotope to create a filterable directory.

Finally I did a quick CSS skin for the wiki (the tutorials, case studies, and shared information for all volunteers and organizations), with improved design to come once more content had been entered.

The project is all open source, including typefaces and imagery, so anyone can contribute and keep improving it.