From the beginning, increasing civic engagement and participation has been a major priority for the City of Gainesville’s Community Redevelopment Agency (GCRA) in developing its annual report. Florida statute requires community redevelopment agencies to publish a report of its activities for the preceding fiscal year for viewing by taxing authorities, advisory board members and the general public.
“Sadly, most of the time these public records collect dust in the backs of municipal filing cabinets and rarely engage the people we serve,” says Nathalie McCrate, GCRA project manager. “This dilemma led us to join forces with Sequential Artists Workshop (SAW) to find an inventive way of capturing the attention and imagination of new, diverse audiences.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, 1,232 square inches of cartoons must be the equivalent of a War and Peace novel!”
The SAW workshop, located on the corner of SE 5th Ave and S. Main St. behind the Citizen's Co-Op and the Civic Media Center in Gainesville, is a school dedicated to the craft of comics and graphic novels. The school’s director Tom Hart, is an adjunct instructor in the School of Art + Art History. GCRA Manager Sarah Vidal-Finn came across SAW at an event and fell in love with the team’s drawings. The “Sunday funnies” parody came out of a brainstorming meeting with the team.
“Justine, Tom and Sally saw an opportunity to communicate our project milestones in a novel way by tapping into the nostalgia of reading comics over cereal as a kid,” says McCrate. “The size and dimensions of Sunday funnies have been shrinking for a long time, so we decided to print the work in full color and go with a large 14x22 size to pay tribute to print journalism’s glory days.”
The final full-color comic ran in a full, front page spread issued March 29, 2015.
“We’ve gotten a wonderfully positive response on social media and through personal emails,” says McCrate. “It’s fun to see people’s faces light up when we hand it to them for the first time since many folks said that it was their first time reading an annual report from cover to cover!
“We’ve set a high bar for next year’s annual report.”