MAKE Collaboration have focused their banner on the topic of local ‘food miles’ – a term becoming more and more common in conversation, referring to the distance food travels from production to consumer. Given the two banner topics: Lands Use, Food, Agriculture, and Transport(ation), this is an appropriate and poignant merging of them both. They began by asking the question: What is Omaha’s role in global, domestic and local transportation of goods, and more specifically food? Their findings were shocking, yet not surprising: goods that are part of a local movement are transported an average of 56 food miles before they reach their consumer while goods that are not, travel 1,494 food miles (96 percent farther than the former, 4 percent of the latter) (Cited via Checking the food odometer).

In order to depict this phenomenon, MAKE utilizes a slice of Omaha from the 2005 Nebraska Land Use Map analysis, represented by circles, as the graphical backbone of their banner image.  Only four percent of the circles are highlighted in color to graphically display this outrageous comparison. Simple and direct, this image is both stunningly beautiful and appropriately concerning about our local food system. In addition to addressing ‘food miles’, MAKE also sets an example of ‘bag miles’ with their image. Designed within the banner are tote bag cut-lines to guide the reuse of the banner for local bags. These bags will eventually make a statement by traveling 56 or less ‘bag miles’ to transport their goods.

MAKE Collaboration works with a philosophy of bringing to fruition the moments of insight that cause the mind to begin to tick. One of their operating priorities is to always function as a whole; “We are not a firm, we are a collaboration.” This sets up an opportunity to break the conventional hierarchy commonly associated with design agendas. Their approach to this Stored Potential submission is an example of how utilizing diverse data sets leads to a new understanding of the situation at hand. There is always another way to look at the problem. MAKE has made a splash on Kickstarter these past few weeks nearing their goal with only 14 days to go. Check out their PROP product design (and banner submission on the wall in the background) here.

Team:  Erin Brouillette [architect-in-training, Encompass Architects, P.C.], Justin Brouillette [UNL M.Arch thesis student], Nicholas Pajerski [Princeton University M.Arch student]