After encouragement from her mom to participate in the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission 3rd annual Fair Housing Poem and Poster Contest, Rowan Meyer-Boothby took on the challenge. Her mom encouraged her, along with her two siblings, to participate in the contest as a chance to be engaged in a fun way with community issues.
Rowan acknowledges that she was “an angry kid” when she was younger and relied on art to make sense of the world and to “get involved to make things better.” This challenge was one she accepted eagerly. Though she admits it didn’t come easily. She abandoned her first concept for the poster and started again after a bit of research. “I had no idea what I was really trying to do with the first attempt,” she said. “I hadn’t really thought it through.”
Rowan then looked for inspiration by researching other equal housing posters and settled on a concept that utilized a variety of colors and visual contrast. “I really like the style of pop art posters and also what people can do with Photoshop, but I’m not very good at computer art,” she says. “I wanted to see what I could do with only construction paper.” In fact, Rowan created a winning poster with simple tools and few resources. She ended up having to use the edge of her math textbook instead of a ruler to create straight lines.
The image of the clothesline in her design was inspired by the video (which includes an image of a clothesline) of a song she was listening to as she worked on the project: “If I could begin to be / Half of what you think of me / I could do about anything.”
The subject of fair housing was also a source of inspiration for Rowan. “I really admire people who are advocates for civil rights, so it felt cool to kind of be a part of that,” she says. “I also know I’ll be paying for my own college tuition, and this was a chance to try to earn something towards that.
Each of the three winners received $500 to open an Educational Savings Account.