Project M – Michelle Davies

“We just want to change the world. Sure, we may not be known in the in circles… But, we do know how to save the rain forest with a waterproof book. We do know how to build a park with a postcard. And we know how to bring water to a community with a few pages of newsprint. We are part of a design movement. We believe that ability equals responsibility.”

Project M is an intensive summer  program designed to inspire young graphic designers, writers, photographers and other creative people that their work can have a positive and significant impact on the world.

John Bielenberg, pictured right, a Belfast, Maine, and San Francisco-based graphic designer, started Project M in 2003. This program was inspired by the work of Samuel Mockbee and Rural Studio. 

The Rural Studio brings architecture students to Hale County, Alabama, where they design, fund and build innovative housing and community projects.

The first group of Project M designers arrived in Maine for a month-long investigation into ‘Thinking Wrong’ in May of 2003. During that inaugural program, we produced a publication that pushed the traditional form and expectations of a book. The American Institute of Graphic Arts selected the book as one of the 50 best designed of the year.

Think Wrong Book

Other projects have included a communication project for the Guanacaste Conservation Area in Costa Rica,  a project with The Womens Trust, which does micro-financing in Ghana, where Project M purchased a used ambulance and converted it into a rolling design studio. Their first expedition was to deliver donated equipment and supplies to Gulf Coast designers displaced by hurricane Katrina. Another project involved a trip in the ambulance to East Baltimore where they created the “This is not grass” book, designed to encourage donations to build parks on abandoned urban lots in East Baltimore, and a water meter funding scheme called the Buy-a-meter campaign.

The Buy-a-meter campaign

Project M

Magazine story

Design Ignites Change 


Project Buy-a-meter

Project This is not Grass


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