CO-FOUNDERS + PARTNERS AT RE-NOURISH.ORG
Eric Benson was born in Arizona and raised in Mid-Michigan where he later received his BFA in graphic and industrial design from the University of Michigan in 1998. His MFA thesis at the University of Texas became Re-nourish. This work translated into an academic career teaching graphic design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At Illinois he runs Fresh Press Agri-Fiber Paper Lab, where he explores sustainable papermaking using corn stover, soy stalks, prairie grasses, and other waste fibers from local farms. Eric’s creative work has also garnered numerous design awards and hung in notable venues like The Walker Art Center, the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and RISD.
Yvette Perullo is a Boston-based designer and educator. She received her MFA in visual communications design from Purdue University and her MA degree in graphic design from the New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk University where her research focused on developing tools and resources to encourage sustainable design practices – the foundation of her work with Re-nourish. She has lectured internationally on sustainable graphic design and as a design educator, Yvette focuses on integrating sustainability methodology into her courses. Yvette is the Lead Designer at Bartlett Interactive in Concord MA, an agency with a commitment to sustainability and triple bottom line business practices.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND/OR SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS, CLIENTS AND CAUSES?
Around 14 years ago, in our own personal sustainable design journeys, we each had a similar epiphany about the negative state of the planet and how that was intertwined with the design profession. Interestingly both “awakenings” involved seeing our print work being thrown away. We spent countless hours working on making our design work usable and (dare we say) gorgeous. It was frustrating to see it carelessly tossed in the trash, and that made us both start to rethink what and how we make.
That line of questioning led us to start Re-nourish.org, to change the path of design away from over-consumption, waste, and ignoring the natural systems around us. We became partners and started Re-nourish.org in 2008 after we met a conference in Baltimore. At the time Eric was an educator at University of Illinois and Yvette was a Design Director at a consulting firm in Boston and teaching design courses at Suffolk University.
In 2015, Renourish.org became a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It energized our commitment to our mission to provide online tools advocating awareness and action for sustainable systems thinking in the communication design community. We firmly believe that ’good design’ values people, the environment, and improves lives. We aim to help the practicing communication designer, educator and student make positive sustainable and pragmatic design decisions.
ARE THERE SPECIAL CHALLENGES OR OPPORTUNITIES IN PURSUING THESE GOALS IN 2017?
Yes! First off the federal environmental policies have changed for the worse with the new administration in Washington leaving us in a less than favorable political and financial position. Since President Trump pulled the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords and denies the reality of climate change, it’s an uphill battle to achieve our mission. Relying only on governmental grants is not in our best interest, so we are looking to fundraise tax-deductible donations to our 501(c)(3). We need to increase our fundraising at our Re-nourish.org to update, enhance, and add to the content, technology, and offerings on our site.