Riverbed had the privilege of working with Pioneer Human Services again this year on their annual report. This is always a gratifying project that feels like you are making a difference in the world. Pioneer Human Services is one of the nation’s largest social enterprise organizations, often cited as a national model in providing a “Chance for Change” through an integrated array of services, including employment, job training, treatment, housing, counseling, and reentry services. Each year Pioneer helps more than 15,000 people on the margins of society overcome multiple hurdles – overcoming challenges with chemical dependency, mental illness, and criminal histories.
Riverbed designed the 2010 report to communicate how Pioneer’s clients go through the process of recapturing their lives. We worked with Alex Steele of Ecomaven and Associates, who wrote the exceptional copy and Jed Share who photographed the beautiful portraits. Each story highlights a particular stage in the process; recovery, active guidance, reentry, trust, and purpose. In the past, Pioneer has stayed away from spotlighting specific details of clients stories. With this report, that shifted. Working in collaboration, we discovered the closer you get to the particular aspects of these stories the more you could identify with them. The cycle that clients go through at Pioneer is often not far removed from experiences everyone can relate to.
This is where design can serve the world – emphasizing the points of connection that break down our walls of understanding. The clients served by Pioneer are often the forgotten, unwanted and victimized. Society at large does not care about them or want to think about them. We shield ourselves from the addicted, the convicted, and the mentally challenged with stereotypes based on worse case scenarios. The stories in this report highlight one achievement in someone’s life. This approach breaks down the typecast of the successful addict or convict being a rarefied exception. The clients at Pioneer are not always successful and often go through the ups and downs of this cycle again and again. The detailed vignettes from a cross section of people and situations lead to larger awareness and empathy. It is harder to look away when you can identify with someone’s story. This is an example of how design can give a fresh perspective allowing you to see past stereotypes with new vision and understanding.
You can download the full report in pdf format here.