The Justice Project: When public safety is more than policing

ASK Grand Rapids was selected as the first of 10 cities to participate in this fresh approach to justice and collaboration with a grant from the Aspen Institute. In the midst of an emotionally charged and divided community, this initiative was tasked with creating a vision for the future that was equity-centered and data-driven.

Worthwhile was asked to partner with the Public Agency in developing the identity, graphics, and communications platform.

NOTE: Copywriting partnership with the amazing Valerie Foley

Our charge was to simplify complexity, emotionally engage the community, and help Public Agency facilitate progress via a brand and communications platform. As we began our work, we understood the need for a start-up state-of-mind; to pivot and stay flexible as we all learned together, to test and revise as the coalition took shape.

Unlike so many projects that rely on stakeholder interviews and secondary research, we were able to use our coalition as an ongoing focus group to respond to positioning and developing work.

Regular updates and discussions helped us better understand and reflect the audience’s diverse perspectives. How could we engage everyone without alienating anyone? How do we instill passionate participation while not ignoring the complexity of the issue?

In the end, the fully-formed brand execution was framed by the ideas of authenticity, humanity, gravitas, and passion.


The positioning ultimately locked in on our distinctive approach of bringing a diverse collection of voices to the table to work towards a better vision of justice.

The US in Justice is used to express the initiative’s differentiation, embodying an invitation to create change together

The hand-hewn headlines and cut-out graphics (animation and website) reflect that this is crafted by the hands of the community and the photos help everyone to see that they are represented here. The structured layouts and old-school typeface support the idea of gravitas. And while this is a very serious undertaking there is a whole lot of passion in the room, so we tempered that weightiness with an expanded palette with brighter, more energetic colors.

The copy platform asks our audience to use their imagination when all hope seems lost with language that is honest, human, and relatable — like a personal conversation.


Now, we wait patiently as the assembled team does their work. Through their dedication and hard work we might just have a brighter and more equitable future for all of us.

Worthwhile feedback

“Worthwhile walked our team through an intentional process to help us clarify our initiative’s purpose, key audiences, and the type of space we wanted to create. They worked alongside us to navigate complexity and tension and helped bring to life a design that I believe balances authenticity and passion with gravitas.

What I most appreciate from this partnership is Worthwhile’s patience on the creative journey and their commitment to designing what we most needed.”

— Trudy Ngo-Brown, past Director of Public Agency and GR-JGP Project Manager