the bonniedale farm project

Dan speaking with students

Currently, I am teaching stir (evoking sensory awareness) as a semester-long course at the Rhode Island School of Design. I am fortunate to work with these bright and driven graphic design students in an atmosphere that embraces design as a way to view the world.

If you love animals, you will love our latest class project. Yesterday we paid a visit to Bonniedale Farm in North Scituate, RI. The farm is home to many animals that may otherwise be homeless or destroyed. Dan and his girlfriend run the farm, and take in pigs, sheep, llamas, horses, dogs, cats, chickens, turkeys and probably any type of animal you could name…they never say no and are the only type of animal sanctuary like this in all of Rhode Island. They advocate for animals, provide a safe and happy atmosphere, and spend time educating anyone (including inner-city children) who wants to find out the fascinating and often difficult stories behind each of the animals on the farm. The farm atmosphere offers many opportunities for sensory stimulation, and the reason for the visit was to document these.

Tommy Boy

Unfortunately Bonniedale Farm will be closed within a month due to foreclosure. This is a harsh reality that many Americans are facing at this time. The community is rallying behind Bonniedale, but time is running out.

The story of this farm will serve as the core of the latest class project. The students have been given an assignment in which they will explore the potential impact graphic design can have and consider how design thinking and making can captivate, engage and motivate people to act. There certainly is potential here for the synergy of ideas, motivation and design to have a positive result. SG

Read the article from the Providence Journal here: http://www.projo.com/news/bobkerr/kerr_column_22_03-22-09_V3DOI72_v20.3260147.html

penny takes a nap in the sand

3 Responses to “the bonniedale farm project”


  • What an opportunity here to see what design can do at a local level! Beyond being a learning experience for the students (which it is), it is a way of truly seeing how design can transform. Where might this project might lead? Could it become something more than just a 3-week project? Could RISD rally behind this small group of students looking to make a change? Could it be an opportunity to raise money or perhaps more media attention for the farm? I am interested to hear more of Dan MacKenzie’s story. Please keep us up-to-date on any developments! Thank you!

  • What a great venue for sensory exploration. Experiencing a farm and also getting a sense of what the farm experience might be like from a pig, chicken, or goat point of view sounds intriguing. Curious to learn what the results of the study are.

    I worked at a farm similar to this years ago (for two weeks) and the experience has stayed with me. For an urbanite, I felt like I was on a different planet.

  • This is an impressive initiative. By taking the students on a field trip, it breaks the comfort zone of the studio as well as offers a clear source from which to work. Being in the presence of living creatures will ignite sensory memory and help to define subjective elements of a lived relationship to the world. Clearly the students will have a rich palette of raw material from which to draw and build upon in their designs.

Comments are currently closed.