RULE29, GENEVA IL
Justin Ahrens is founder and principal of Rule29, and he lives the firm’s philosophy of Making Creative Matter®. Like any creative professional, Justin enjoys digging into a business problem and designing a strategic solution. But he gets a bigger charge out of seeing the positive impact that solution can make ‒ for the client and for the world. Justin speaks the languages of both business and design, guiding Rule29’s strategic and creative direction on every project. He fosters the collaborative approach that’s at the heart of the firm’s relationships with clients ranging from Fortune 500 brands to nonprofits to small startup companies.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND/OR SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS, CLIENTS AND CAUSES?
I have had the opportunity to serve as an advisor to the nonprofits Lifewater, Life In Abundance and EPIC (Engaging Philanthropy, Inspiring Creatives). Our work with LIA and Lifewater has increased awareness and raised funds to aid people living in the urban and rural slums of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. My most recent project has been to raise awareness and funds for community water projects in Africa through Wheels4Water.
Wheels4 Water started when the Rule 29 team decided that we wanted to do something bigger than ourselves. How could we use design thinking, design, social media, web and digital strategy to raise awareness and activate a community? We wanted to use our creative skills and partner with some of our friends and see if we could do things a little differently. We were going to commit to raising money and be responsible for not just the creative part, but the actual fundraising as well. And it truly shifted our perspective and approach as soon as we had “client” shoes on as well. We have designed a brand that is refreshed every year and tells a slightly evolved story on the community we are supporting. The project, led by our firm and video production studio, Wonderkind Studios, provides numerous opportunities for the wider community to meaningfully participate in the alleviation of the global water crisis.
ARE THERE SPECIAL CHALLENGES OR OPPORTUNITIES IN PURSUING THESE GOALS IN 2017?
At the start of 2017, Wheels4Water has raised over $200,000 to bring safe water and sanitation to over 5,200 people in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And this year, we’re setting our sights higher by completing one of the biggest challenges in all of cycling: a transcontinental journey. The Wheels4Water team will ride over 3,000 miles in ten days, from San Diego CA to Jacksonville FL, with a goal of raising $200,000 to transform the lives of a community in the Kaliro District of Uganda. In reaching this mark, our efforts since 2014 will have given safe water access to over 10,000 people in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.