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Today’s post is by architecture graduate student Andrew Johnson:

Dear design enthusiasts and Phoenix community champions!

Phoenicians across our communities have certainly faced unique struggles with recent economic woes, and as a group of ASU graduate design students who frequently study community-scale social problems, we feel a sincere desire to help our community. In the architecture classroom, we consistently research and explore solutions to these big problems in an effort to create positive change, but we recognize that we rarely practice what has been preached. Now, in an effort to put this pedagogy to practice, a team of six design students are putting all we can toward the national charity event, Canstruction.

Canstruction is an annual event where local design professionals compete against one another toward the noble cause of feeding the hungry. Last year alone, the Canstruction Phoenix event prompted the donation of over 50,000 food items for hungry Phoenicians. In the event, design teams – largely represented by architecture, engineering and design firms – build larger-than-life sculptures out of thousands of cans of food which will be put on display for a short stint the Phoenix Convention Center. Those cans are then donated to the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance; it’s a unique opportunity for Phoenix designers like us to have some fun and help our hungry neighbors. Our group is excited to join the cause and is proud to represent ASU’s Design School as the only academic group and the only group not sponsored by a professional company!

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance is a pretty amazing entity. It is the world’s first food bank, and is a non-sectarian, nonprofit organization that alleviates hunger by efficiently gathering and distributing food.

Currently, our group is working to design and coordinate our sculpture’s structure. Designing the 8’ x 8’ x 10’ sculpture using only canned food has proven to be a challenging exercise – no adhesives are allowed, and the cans cannot be manipulated in any way! Simultaneous to design, our team has worked tirelessly to find funding to purchase the cans, to find a vendor to place the large order and to coordinate a solid plan to transport, store and build the cans into our vision. We are eagerly anticipating revealing our efforts and sculpture to the public when the exhibit opens after the build on March 31 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

In our efforts to fund the project, however, our marketing campaign of being “poor college students” hasn’t worked as successfully as we hoped. Although we are thrilled with our family and friends’ contributions of roughly $1000, we are currently estimating a total sculpture cost of $4,500 and we’re significantly short. Now, in our time of need, we turn back to our community for support. Recognizing that times are tough for all, a donation from readers of any size would be more than greatly appreciated. Our team of students is concerned that we won’t be able to make the donation we’ve pledged to make (or compete at the same level of our firm peers).

Please donate to our cause, follow our progress or learn more about Canstruction on our team’s blog. You’ll find a link to PayPal on the site.

For those of you interested in seeing the finished sculptures in person, they will be open to the public in the Phoenix Convention Center from March 31 through April 8, 2012. For more information, click here.

Thank you in advance to our treasured community for your support!!

Photo Credit: Andrew and his teammate working on their Canstruction project. Photo from

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