I had the honor of participating in Listen To Your Mother – a curated show of readings about moms and motherhood. I was the only male in our cast, and I shared a bit of my journey regarding Jon’s birthmother.
I’ve not written much about this topic, for the sake of my son’s privacy as well as that of his birthmom. However, the events encapsulated in my 6-minute reading took several years in real time, and included a slew of emotions ranging from fear and resentment, to disappointment and anger.
Many adoptive parents struggle silently with guilt and confusion over how they think they should feel about their child’s biological parents, versus how they actually feel. I’m sharing this for those parents — so they won’t feel alone like I did so much of the time. So they’ll know there are no right or wrong ways to think and feel about these complicated relationships.
I may write about this more in time — particularly as it relates to being a gay dad. But for now, thank you for watching (or reading). And if you have one to share, I’d love to listen to your story, too.
The Girl Scouts turns 100 today (Congrats, ladies!) so I thought I’d share a project I did a bunch of years ago for them. I know I say this about pretty much everything I post here, but it really WAS one of my favorites. And it’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to illustrating a children’s book.
Follow the Reader was an activity book for the Daisy Scouts (K-1st grade) meant to encourage parents to read to their kids and generally take a more active role in their learning. It was chock full of word games, matching activities, and cute-as-pie illustrations (if I do say so myself). The biggest challenge was that the book was also bi-lingual (English/Spanish) which meant 2x the type in an already jam-packed layout.
Like the Girl Scout organization itself, the book was about as inclusive as you could get. There were kids of every skin tone, all shapes and sizes, a girl with leg braces, one in a wheelchair, even a couple of girls NOT in dresses!
However, after having already completed most of the illustrations, the Girl Scouts decided they wanted to add a little girl with a hearing aid. The only problem was that none of my people had ears! So, I created one little girl with an ear so it could show a hearing aid.
I remember thinking at the time (2002) that it would be cool if they showed a girl with 2 mommies or 2 daddies. Back then it seemed a bit far-fetched, but I’d like to think that if I were hired to do an update they’d include such a family.
If you’re in the DC area Saturday, February 18th, grab the whole family and go see “The Kids Are All Right” performed by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington! As a member of this chorus, I can tell you it’s not often the phrase “family-friendly” is used to describe one of our shows… but “Kids” will be a great evening of music with a message: Be who you were born to be!
The concert features songs and stories about growing up “different” — and not just surviving, but overcoming adversity to enjoy and embrace our individuality.
Two big highlights of the show will include a mini-musical based on the children’s book “Oliver Button Is A Sissy,” narrated by Candace Gingrich-Jones (half-sister of a certain soon-to-be former presidential candidate); as well as a performance by Dreams of Hope, a Pittsburgh performing arts group of LGBT youth and their allies. They will present a segment from their original show “Being In, Being Out” about the journey we all take to belong.
As part of the chorus’ GenOUT program, free tickets are available for high school students, their teachers and parents. Learn more about GMCW’s youth outreach program and request tickets at www.gmcw.org/outreach/genout
And check out this fun little animation. Not my creation (although the logos are), but darned if that first photo that appears isn’t familiar…
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
Saturday, February 18, 2012
730 21st Street NW • Washington DC
INFO / TICKETS
Doug Powell designs and dads in chilly Minneapolis, and is the current president of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts, for you non-designers). I had the privilege of hearing Doug speak recently on the topic of AIGA’s Design for Good initiative, as well as his own work inspired by a very personal experience involving his daughter. Doug was kind enough to answer my DDQ&A, as well as some additional questions specific to his presentation on Design for Good.
Q&A with designer dad Doug Powell
Tell me briefly about your design business: how long in business, what kinds of clients you have and/or work you specialize in.
My wife, Lisa, and I founded Schwartz Powell in 1989. For most of that time we operated as a traditional graphic design studio working for a variety of clients ranging from Target and Andersen Windows to local arts organizations and schools. In 2002 our daughter, Maya, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (aka juvenile diabetes) and this caused Lisa and me to really reset our priorities around family and work. One of the outcomes of this experience was a line of products that Lisa and I designed to help families better manage life with diabetes. This grew into a bigger business vision over the subsequent years, applying this approach to a broader range of health care scenarios. In 2007 this business, called HealthSimple, was acquired by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Since then, I’ve been continuing to work with organizations in the health and nutrition space to work with design and design thinking.
One of the joys of working in DC is being exposed to the vast number of nonprofits doing dynamic and important work. While working for these organizations doesn’t always equate to dynamic paychecks, the payoff is oftentimes greater creative freedom. And it’s even more rewarding when you’re able to contribute to a cause in which you really believe.
That was the case with Family Ties Project, whose mission is “to promote and preserve the well-being of children, youth and families affected by HIV/AIDS by working with parents and caregivers to plan for the future care of their children.”