Facing Dayton: Neighborhood Narratives Extension

“The Facing Project was a community story-telling project that intends to bring awareness about human rights issues and assets of a community to inspire social action” (facingproject.com). Kelly Bohrer and Alexa Irwin began one of these projects titled "Facing Dayton: Neighborhood Narratives." They have collected stories from community members who have grown up and lived in Dayton neighborhoods. Over the summer, along with a colleague, Professor Misty Thomas-Trout is designing a book that publishes these narratives and experiences.

Dr. Thomas-Trout created an extension of this book project to weave in a new form of these narratives into her Typography 2 fall course. Typography 2 deals with the poetic, practical and persuasive nature of type. She paired each student with one of these storytellers through the help of Kelly Bohrer and Alexa Irwin. Then, they designed a typographic poster using these narratives—allowing the type to speak as the voice of the storyteller. The type becomes poetic in the way it conveys the messages within these stories, practical in the sense that it disburses the information and persuasive in how it teaches the history of the Dayton communities while raising awareness.

A larger goal was to connect with the Dayton Public Library for an opportunity to exhibit these posters. The class curated, advertised and hosted an opening that invited these storytellers, their families and their community members to join in the celebration of place. Continuing the recognition of these people, while educating the students about place and place-making, is an important aspect to community building and experiential learning.

These students engaged in practical wisdom as they were exposed to real human needs and issues that exist within these stories. Meeting the people and having a face-to-face connection, continues to strengthen and inspire the passion behind their designs.

The students engaged in experiential learning through the following methods:

  • connection with the individual story-teller
  • immersing themselves into these Dayton neighborhoods
  • learning the history of Dayton’s communities and issues
  • client-designer relationship building
  • curating, installing and hosting an exhibition
  • peer advising and collaboration
  • ongoing mentorship
  • greater Dayton community networking

The mini-funds have been used for printing fees, paper, poster hanging strips and materials for installing and curating the library exhibition and opening reception food and beverages. Dr. Thomas-Trout believes that the connection and relationship building between the students and community members provided them with lifelong networking skills. This project also taught another facet of graphic design, which is community-based design that brings the opportunity of positive social change and awareness. These posters were individually driven by the students—requiring personal initiatives and leadership skill building. They engaged with stories that discuss social justice issues such as racism, immigration and poverty. This will continue to educate on inter-cultural awareness, civic engagement and how we provide designs that are sensitive to these issues. Dr. Thomas-Trout foresees these students gaining a truly holistic experience of creating a design that embodies what it means to be human.

Photo Credit: Annie Denten


Name & Title

Misty Thomas-Trout

Assistant Professor


Email: Misty Thomas-Trout

Phone: 937-229-5754

Full-Time Faculty
College of Arts and Sciences: Art and Design

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Office of Experiential Learning

Roesch Library 034 
300 College Park 
Dayton, Ohio 45469