Necessity is the mother of invention — but sometimes a classroom assignment can be a wonderful surrogate mother. Take for instance the recently launched Web site howirichmond.com.
Created as a group assignment for a Virginia Commonwealth University advertising class on socially conscious design, the site takes Richmond's newfound, in-the-crapper economy-driven need for alternative modes of transportation and creates a sort of virtual transportation hub.
The site works as a virtual chat room, news aggregator and all-around information resource for Richmond's burgeoning alternative transportation community.
“We wanted to create a community where people could come and share information or find information if you don't know where else to get it,” says Eric Gilkey, one of seven members of the design class that created howirichmond.com, pronounced “How I Richmond dot com.”
Enter Gilkey and his classmates.
“We're certainly not experts in alternative transportation, we're students and graphic designers,” says Mike Doherty, another of the project's creators, who says he and his classmates “saw no need in reinventing the wheel” when so many groups already were out there on the Web. “We created the glue to put all this stuff together.”
And make no mistake that the alternative transportation universe is ever expanding, encompassing nearly everything but riding alone in a four-wheeled internal combustion-driven vehicle that gets less than 50 miles per gallon. From walking to carpooling to taking the train and everything in between, howirichmond.com covers it all, Doherty says.
“The hope is once the Web site is out there, we get more organizations active in using the resource,” he says.