Low-Tech Learning

A little known fact about me is that my initial major in college was architecture.  I didn’t last very long in the program but to this day I love a good excuse to pull out my sketchbook.

David Anderson gave me a great reason this week with his weekly challenge: create an emergency response “course” using pen and paper.

The disaster

The only disasters I really know anything about are flooding and hurricanes.  I’m from southern Louisiana, went to college in Miami, and now live in in the Mid-Atlantic, not far from the coast.

So I decided to go that route, using the Red Cross hurricane app for some inspiration. (I encourage you to download the free Red Cross apps – they are pretty great and full of all kinds of useful information that I couldn’t fit onto my course.)

photo 1

The course context

I wanted my “course” audience to be folks at an evacuation shelter.

The “course” is meant to be presented soon after the hurricane/flooding is past so there is no imminent danger but evacuation orders may still be in effect for much of the area.

photo 2

What I included and why

I thought about what I would want to know if I were hunkered down at an evacuation shelter.  I decided I would want to know:

  • Where and when can I get food and water?
  • When can I go home?

In addition, I figured shelter staff would have other information they would want to convey to keep things running.  And the government and non-profits such as the Red Cross would probably want to give me some key information for staying safe once I was home.

So, those were the things I included!

photo 3

The production

I used sharpie (once I realized my ink pen was bleeding) and watercolor pencils.  If you have never used watercolor pencils, they are a lot of fun and basically the only way I ever “paint”. They are also a great way to add some color when all of your markers have run dry… (time for a run to the art supply store!)

I tried to add as many visuals as possible to catch attention and help those who may not be very literate (or perhaps those that can’t read my handwriting?). Also, my cat was jealous she wasn’t getting to paint, so there are a few smudges and half paw prints from her.

photo 4

If I were to do these over, I would stay away from block letters and break up the “Stay Safe” page into 2 pages as it feels a bit crowded.

What would you want to know if you were at an evacuation shelter?  What would you include in your emergency disaster course?


  1. Allison. This looks great! I like the way you used watercolors and clearly expressed the most important questions someone might want to ask. I’ll have to head to the Art Store and look for those markers! My daughter and I both love to draw.


  2. Wow!
    Great work and brings out the hand-designer in you! Very detailed, has as much information as I would need in such a situation. I especially like the stay safe part, it’s very informative with great graphics.
    Thanks for sharing.


  3. Fantastic job as always, Allison! I absolutely love the color touches of the watercolor marker. My favorite part was definitely your “when can i go home page.” Great job with the color coded area descriptions!


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