Diversity, equity, and inclusion are about hearing, acknowledging, and celebrating all voices in our communities. In that spirit, LAFCU in Lansing, Mich., invited members of the community to create artwork that represent the words “love” and “equality” for a new initiative that seeks to foster unity during polarizing times.
The LAFCU Act with Love & Equality Art Initiative incorporates that positive message into its community’s conversations by showcasing 10 winning designs on billboards and through digital channels, including LAFCU’s website and social media platforms.
“Acting with love and equality is important, especially now,” says Kelli Ellsworth Etchison, chief marketing officer and chief diversity officer for the $938 million asset credit union. “As a credit union serving the financial needs of nearly 70,000 members, LAFCU has a responsibility to use its platform for good.
“We’re stronger as a community when we’re united,” she adds.” Love and equality will help pave the way for our unity and allow us to heal, find peace, have empathy for others, hope, and embrace others not just despite our differences but because of our differences.”
The words chosen for the initiative are change, empathy, heal, hope, humanity, kind, love, one, peace, and unity.
The idea for the project came from a dream experienced by LAFCU Creative Director Kellie Swiger after watching another evening of news filled with polarizing images. Swiger imagined people of different colors and ethnicities filled with empathy and adorned with beautiful imagery.
“When reminders of the dream kept coming back to me, I knew it was meant to serve a bigger purpose,” she says. “From there, we talked through an idea where we could bring artists together to use 10 words related to love and equality, and using art as that channel.”
Swiger hopes LAFCU’s initiative can inspire other credit unions to curate similar projects in their communities. She even developed a playbook for organizations to follow.
“We started out in Michigan, but the bigger vision is to get every credit union to be part of it,” Swiger says. “Every community has different artists, and art can be a voice with a powerful purpose. If we can share that nationwide and have other credit unions take part, it connects us. It unifies.”