Kyle Newton, American Builders Quarterly’s designer, recently spent 10 days as one of 10 young designers from across the globe selected to participate in Camp Firebelly, an annual, intensive fellowship focused on design for nonprofit work and civic engagement.

Led by Chicago-based studio Firebelly Design, known for “Good Design for Good Reason,” the camp pairs participants with a local organization for several days during which the campers complete design challenges and workshops all over the city of Chicago and deploy public interventions in the form of a design project. One surprise followed by another kept the campers on their toes.

This year the campers worked with the TransLife Center, a nonprofit organization that serves transgender and gender nonconforming individuals in the Chicago community, offering a range of services including housing and legal programs, employment aide, and medical care. In five days, the campers designed and produced a set of postcards, two screen-printed posters, a billboard (which is already up around the city), a digital ad campaign, and a microsite attached to the campaign.

Kyle presents work completed for TransLife Center at Camp Firebelly.

Kyle and his design partner left these note cards around Chicago to inspire people to “celebrate a stranger.”

The campers made screen prints at Spudnik Press for TransLife Center.

Following the campaign, local designers and organizations including The Chicago Design Museum and Spudnick Press challenged and led the campers through smaller projects, and Cincinnati-based studio Tomorrow Today led a workshop on public interventions and designing for civic engagement.

The entire experience closed with a celebration and showcase of the work completed across the 10 days. “It was one of the most exciting, exhausting, and completely invigorating things I have ever done,” says Kyle.

Kyle (second row, second from the right) and his fellow campers celebrate in the photo booth with their client at the final showcase of the camp.