The internet and social media have both powerfully stimulated and enabled more people to get noticed, get their message out, and connect with others. But in all the focus on the internet and social media, what has gone relatively neglected are the communicative opportunities the surfaces of everyday life present. So, what if we employed everyday surfaces to inform and engage more people in their communities?
As a sociologist in academia, it struck me that universities and other information organizations could do a better job engaging more ordinary people with knowledge that matters to their lives, whether that be the latest health and social science research, philosophy and literature, or about the people and resources in their own communities. Rather than draw people solely to education in schools, online, or in traditional media, we can bring education to people by printing knowledge on everyday surfaces, like posters and walls, but also coasters, napkins, placemats and other materials people gaze at as they sit or stand in everyday life.
Late last year, I founded Signia Surfaces to do just that: use everyday surfaces to inform and engage more people, specifically in their own communities, starting with napkins and coasters we distribute at eateries (e.g., restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels) and events in the Washington D.C. metro area. Our first focus is on helping local nonprofits and artists, and eventually local writers and researchers, by publicizing their work free on these ad-funded napkins and coasters.
In so doing, we’re developing a better kind of advertising. Advertising will always be present in capitalist societies like ours, but why not use advertising to help advance public education and community engagement? At Signia Surfaces, our aim is to help promote our community partners and inform more people while providing advertisers with an eye-catching, community-supporting way to connect with consumers.
We’re not a cure-all. We don’t provide all the promotion our advertisers and community partners need, nor can we alone effectively inform and engage all metro area residents. But we’re taking a fresh approach that should help our advertisers while promoting community in the Washington D.C. metro area.
And so, I invite you to learn more about what we do on our website, like us on Facebook, and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to help us build a better, community-supporting form of advertising in metro Washington D.C.
Paul Lachelier, Ph.D.
Founder & CEO
Signia Surfaces LLC