Communities Center on Partnerships

Juniata College Class and Huntingdon Community Center Partner to Improve Marketing of Offerings
By Savannah Parson, Juniata 2018 Graduate

As both a Huntingdon native and professor at Juniata College, Ryan Gibboney has the ability to act as a bridge between her hometown community and that of the College. Beginning in the fall 2016 semester, Gibboney started to empower her students to work with community partners through her Integrated Media Arts classes.

Gibboney started by partnering her students with the Huntingdon Community Food Garden. Over the course of the semester, students created poster designs, captured video and photography and shared social media strategies and posts. Students’ work helped to completely redesign the way that volunteers for the garden are recruited and has significantly impacted the way that the garden is promoted throughout the community.

In the fall of 2017, Gibboney and a class of students took on a community partner project, this time working with the Huntingdon Community Center (HCC) to develop their website, branding initiatives and video projects.

By working to directly respond to the needs of the client, Gibboney says that these projects have “created hope for local organizations such as the Huntingdon Community Center who has an impact on thousands of families a year but has a small staff and is run primarily by volunteers.”

When other colleges teach students similar design skills, mock scenarios are created. This means that students design logos, create posters and make websites that few will ever benefit from. In her Integrated Media Arts Lab, Gibboney enables students to realize how much of a positive impact they can have on their community. When students are able to see their work being used, they gain confidence in their ability to create something beneficial.

Gibboney stressed the importance of engaging and consulting with the community partner in order for the projects to be successful.

“Unlike traditional creative work where the designer has the say, we work with the client—rather than designing for—in order to hear their needs, create within their abilities and design for their budgets,” Gibboney says.

Christopher Peterson, a recent graduate of the College who worked on the project last semester, reflects, “One important thing I learned from this experience is to consider the resources and capabilities of the client when developing creative services for them. In deciding what features the site should have, we had to consider whether the HCC would have the resources to continue managing that feature.”

HCC also emphasized the benefit of the partnerships built throughout the process.

“We were able to meet the students in their classroom where we were able to get to know each other better. The students then came to our facilities where they could see what we do” said the Huntingdon Community Center.

In the end, some students were even inspired to volunteer their time at the Community Center outside of working on their assigned project. Empathy and understanding between students and community partners is required for these projects to be successful. The creative content produced for local organizations is significant, but the partnerships between students and community members is the true product of these semester-long projects.

Faculty members at Juniata have been busy growing the number of community-engaged courses being offered, and the positive buzz surrounding Gibboney’s course has the potential to encourage additional professors, students and community partners to want to take part in similar work.

“These kinds of courses are vital in transforming and integrating the Huntingdon and Juniata communities,” Gibboney concludes. “Together we can create a setting where each person contributes and matters.”

Expanded Practice Panel

Erica Quinn, a local artist, photographer, and educator invited me to join a panel discussion for the closing of the Expanded Practice gallery exhibition. The exhibit and panel discussion took place in the Borland Project Space on the PSU University Park Campus. 

We were asked to discuss our work, ideas around interdisciplinary practice, our experiences working creatively near and far, and our musings around space and place. The panel consisted of photographers, industrial designers, composers, and graphic/social designers.  The telling conversation that stood out to me following the event was that all creatives are stuck between Work and The Work. Meaning we each have day jobs that we either love or loathe and passions that either meet those positions or do not. And, consider ways that we are able to merge our creative passions with our daytime Work

There was also an interesting topic of “Engaged Empathy” and what does it mean to be working while engaging in the space or community around you.  How do we continue as educators to limit the pre-determined projects that only live in the classroom and focus on inclusive creative projects that engage with the greater community around us? 

Founding a nonprofit

Creation of a nonprofit and a social movement can be two different things. In the case of ReInvision Huntingdon, it became one initiative that is near and dear to my heart. In the fall of 2015 I began researching and identifying local organization in my hometown of Huntingdon. There were plenty of local initiatives focusing on food, civic engagement, drop-in needs, abuse networks, art nonprofits, landmark and historical societies, parks and roads, etc. But, there was not a single organization focused solely on overall Community Revitalization.

ReInvision Huntingdon (RIH) was started in the fall of 2015 as an “independent group of activists seeking community input to enrich Huntingdon.” By the spring of 2016 the organization  became a nonprofit with a board of directors and focused on community revitalization through public discussion meetings.

For me, this project directly ties in my research agenda and community engagement goals tied to the Community Design Ecosystem. I worked to create opportunities for community revitalization through connected networks, and design for good to see a more beautiful and revitalized town.

WTAJ News Story coverage of the Huntingdon Community Food and other ReInvision initiatives.

Our mission is to facilitate community development by creating a positive atmosphere to share ideas and to strengthen our community through project-based revitalization. For more information visit

Happy Gut Illustrations

Illustrations completed for the Happy Gut book published by HarperCollins. Diagrams below are shown in Print and e-Book editions on pages 17, 22, 23, 98, and 122. This title was released on December 29, 2015.

To Ryan Gibboney, my talented graphic designer, thank you for helping me create clear, easy-to-understand diagrams that explain in pictures what I say in words. 

– Dr. Vincent Pedre

Visit the for more information.

Dr. Vincent Pedre understands gut problems firsthand. He suffered from IBS for years before becoming an expert in functional medicine and learning how to heal his body from the inside. Dr. Pedre used his own experience to develop The Gut C.A.R.E. Program—an approach that draws from both Western and Eastern methodologies, combining integrative and functional medicine—that has a proven success record in his private practice in New York. Now, for the first time, Dr. Pedre makes his revolutionary plan for health and wellness available to everyone.

Experimental Printmaking Workshop

HCACprintmakingInterested in printmaking? Join me this Saturday, May 23rd from 1-3pm for an experimental printmaking workshop at The Art Space, downtown Huntingdon, PA. Participants will work side by side testing materials and experimenting with different printing techniques. All levels of experience are welcome to join the workshop. All materials are included. Participants will each leave the workshop with a small series of prints. Please wear old clothes and be ready to play! Huntingdon County Arts Council

Conceptual Proof Exhibition

A showcase of letterpress and experimental prints from my collection.

Event Information:

Please join us for an Artist Reception with Ryan Gibboney Friday, May 1st from 6-8pm. She will be presenting the process and story behind the work displayed in Conceptual Proof. A reception and opportunity to meet the artist will follow.

Conceptual Proof will be on view at the Art Space in Downtown Huntingdon from May 1-26. The Art Space is run by the Huntingdon County Arts Council.

Ryan Gibboney is an educator, researcher, and award-winning designer focused on the societal responsibilities of designers. She received a BFA in graphic design from the Savannah College of Art & Design in 2008 and an MFA in Visual Communications Design from Purdue University in 2013.

With the traditional idea of wood type, a printing matrix, and a press, Ryan has crafted a body of experimental prints focusing on visual communication, or the lack thereof. The idea that any word has a different meaning to each person based on their personal experiences in life, education, demographics, and language barriers is the main interest of this series. The goal of this series is to question: How do designers use communication effectively? How do we communicate as designers and how can we successfully make messages when they can be differed to so many different meanings dependent on the viewer?

Interested in learning more? Join us Saturday, May 23rd from 1-3pm for an experimental printmaking workshop with artist Ryan Gibboney. Participants will work side by side with Ryan testing materials and experimenting with different printing techniques. All levels of experience are welcome to join the workshop. All materials are included. Participants will each leave the workshop with a small series of prints. Please wear old clothes and be ready to play! The cost is $15 for non-members or $10 for Huntingdon County Arts Council members.

Conceptual Proof Opening


We had a great time installing Conceptual Proof this afternoon!  Please join us for an Artist Reception with this Friday, May 1st from 6-8pm. I will be presenting the process and story behind the work displayed in Conceptual Proof. A reception and opportunity to meet and discuss the work will follow.

Conceptual Proof will be on view at the Art Space in Downtown Huntingdon from May 1-26. For more information about the Huntingdon County Arts Council or the hours for the Arts Space please visit the HCAC Website. Join our Facebook Event for the opening reception!

Bicycle Safety Update

Back in the fall of 2012 I was compelled as a cyclist to research bicycle safety on university campuses. At Purdue University this was a hot topic with several serious incidents between cyclists and pedestrians and cyclists and motor vehicles.This research project started with determining the amount of education there is available for both cyclists and motorists. As a cyclist myself I had questions about the rules and regulations of cycling on and off campus. At a campus as large as Purdue I was shocked to realize there was no one group in charge of bicycle safety or policing the rules of cycling on campus.

Directly following my research a student riding his bicycle through campus struck a CityBus creating yet another incident for university officials to add to their safety requests. As a researcher and facilitator it is always positive when a project and you see the information spread. Today, nearly a year after my research began, Purdue University Announced they are making changes to address campus bicycle and pedestrian needs.

Presenting at TypeCon ’14


I am honored to be speaking at Typecon 2014 in our nation’s capital next month. In conjunction with TypeCon2014, SOTA will be presenting its ninth annual Type & Design Education Forum, a day of special programming devoted to addressing the pressing needs of design educators. My panel presentation Integrating Letterpress into the 21st Century Design Classroom takes place on Thursday July 30th, 2014. 

Set in Motion

Recent experimental video work compiled while researching at Purdue was selected to be showcased in the Set in Motion Video Art & Experimental Film Nights. My video titled Abstract Creativity was selected to be part of the show.

Researching ‘the Client

The crossroad between designer and client beliefs in community driven work allows for a collaboration of not only good design but also social advancements through design. Through my research endeavors and participation in extra circular design events it is clear designers have the power to achieve these goals in time, however the process can be streamlined with good support and strong networking. I have also learned that all designers have goals to make a difference through their work either on a professional level or personal level. Through cultural and social investigations I have learned the process of becoming a social designer. During this time it has also become clear that educating society on the power of a clear message is a key component to the process of completing a community based project. In that sense all designers become Design Educators sharing the process of creativity and design thinking with each person they work with.

In the world of social design there is not on an on/off switch but rather the goal to work with personal passion for each project and client. In an interview Lauren Boynton was asked how she defines confidence Boynton states: “when you have developed a point of view of your own over a period of time that is so engrained that even if you are wrong or you do fail, it doesn’t matter and you have no regrets. That is the ultimate state of confidence” (Boynton, 2013).

Although there are vast status differences between the designer and the community client in many cases, it is the experience of designing that brings us all together.  Social and economic differences may not be understood at the start of a project, but through creative development and problem solving design thinking helps to create a universal conversation.

The final thesis project, which became the Well Baby Toolkit, has become a project of passion and assurance. This project and the challenging undertakings have given me confidence to continue on my social design path. In the future I look forward to seeing where the Well Baby Toolkit goes. It is my hope that the project and research inspires other designers to take on this type of work in their own career.

Well Baby Toolkit

I have learned the value of experience and how it plays a huge role in the outcome of design. How do we experience what we are designing for or furthermore how do we design for what we have experienced? It is my experience that in times of change throughout our lives it is best to stay organized. While expecting my first child, I was fortunate to have access to mobile apps, books, online resources, and multiple medical facilities. For women going through pregnancy without access to such resources, the journey may be an unstructured and even chaotic experience. This simple yet complex idea to stay organized became the key component to the Well Baby Toolkit.


As the researcher interviewing community caregivers in their clinics, a substantial amount of information was collected in the form of brochures, handouts and even sponsored materials. As a patient, women receive overwhelming amounts of information from such clinics. It becomes hard to decipher what information is important. It became overwhelming when trying to identify the main components each clinic was working to educate visitors about. The materials collected ranged from pain management during labor to the proper installation of a car seat.  The caregivers each had different ideas of what they found important which in turn made the process of identifying the essential information more difficult. On average one research location was capable of distributing designed educational materials to thousands of women a year. When realizing the volume of patients it was clear that something needed to be done to organize and make the process easier for patients to absorb.

A major concern that the community clients had were the costs to their facility to produce and distribute new materials designed through this research. This concern was treated with high priority when deciding the final format to design for. If a great educational tool was created as the outcome of this project and could not distributed by the community client it would not solve the issues of overwhelming information. By design, the toolkit has been created in a way that could be mass-produced with basic office materials such as a copier and standard sized office paper.

“This toolkit speaks to the basic needs of pregnant women across many barriers. In a compact and easy to read design, the toolkit provides a wealth of information regarding pre and postnatal care that many women do not receive due to socioeconomic status or limited access to education.”  

Doula and Ph.D. researcher of American Studies

The problems that were defined during this research became the following objectives:

• Development of Pre and Postnatal Educational Tools that are non digital and easy to share with little cost to reproduce.
• Identify graphics and language that is relevant to the target audience: pregnant women and their partners.
•  Evaluate both print and electronic educational and charting systems. What are the key components for successful use of each tool and how can they be simplified into one toolkit
• Look at industry and analyze what exists and determine whats missing from Pre and Post Natal educational and information charting tools.

A user guide has been included in the table of contents area of the Well Baby Toolkit. The toolkit is currently in the process of being reviewed and utilized by Midwives and doulas, WIC, YWCA and OBGYN offices and their Expectant Mother clients.  This phase will be important to evaluate the user experience when using the toolkit and also any areas that need to be explained by a health care professional.

“They are well organized and easy to read.  What wonderful tools especially for first time parents!”

Pre and Post natal Educational Coordinator 

The future plans for the Well Baby Toolkit are to be shared nationally in multiple languages to create a universal conversation between expectant mothers and their caregivers. The tools developed during my MFA research will allow women without resources to monitor their pregnancy and begin the first year of their baby’s life with the best possible understanding of monitoring and preventative care.  The community clients involved in this project were able to identify with the materials presented and successfully implement the new toolkit into their daily educational instruction. These processes of research and design education have helped the community clients have a better understanding of the power of socially driven design.

Next steps: prepare to release to public for use. All charts are formatted to be placed in three ring binders by the user on letter sized paper. The final toolkit will be shared with healthcare and educational offices in color and black and white format for copies to be made and available for patients. If you are interested in reviewing the Well Baby Toolkit for use in your clinic please contact me to be added to the email list.