Space for Excellence — A series of stories centering hope, community, and empowerment.

Client: 30,000 Feet
Deliverables: Rally cry language, impact stories, printed book

CLIENT GOAL: 30,000 Feet is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students ages 5 to 18 realize their full potential, through programs that integrate creative experiences and social-emotional learning. The 30K team needed a clear but comprehensive narrative piece to showcase its work, values, and theory of change.

With their unique ability to center community and debunk the savior complex that often shows up in storytelling in the nonprofit sector, Pollen delivered on what we have been looking for since our inception. The skillset and community driven process that Pollen and its staff bring to a project is second to none, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better storytelling and artistic organization in Minnesota. 


Kevin Robinson 30,000 Feet

SOLUTION 1: 30,000 Feet needed visionary language to describe its impact — language that centered community and avoided the common pitfall of elevating individual success stories over the collective theory of change. At the same time, the organization needed a way to celebrate a few specific touchpoints of their work.

SOLUTION 2: The tone, imagery and strategy behind the photography and design is meant to evoke feelings of hope, community and empowerment. Inspired by the book’s title, “Space for Excellence,” our design treats the type as art — giving the reader space and time to take in the words, the detail and the emotion in slowly.


SOLUTION 3: Pollen guided 30,000 Feet toward producing a printed book — something with tactile permanence that 30K could distribute throughout its community network. This book would work in tandem with pieces published on Pollen’s website and promoted through our social media channels.


Pollen Studio is an amplifier for our narrative change model. Through our unique, intentional creative process, we pair our storytelling and design expertise with our partners’ work for positive social change — allowing each organization to deepen their impact. These projects and partnerships are critical to Pollen's mission, nurturing an ecosystem of narrative change that can catalyze transformation at individual, collective, and systemic levels.
Jerome Rankine
As Editorial Director, Jerome is the keeper of Pollen’s editorial voice and vision. He works with Pollen’s talented stable of writers to produce stories that entertain, enlighten, and invite readers to take action. Jerome spends a lot of time hunched over keyboards--either editing the latest Pollen feature, or composing music in his home studio. He’s active in local politics, less active on social media, and more active in his kitchen.
Melanie Walby
Melanie Walby is the Creative Director of Pollen Midwest who joined our team after working at various ad agencies in Minneapolis. Her illustration, typography and design bring stories to life in collaboration with our freelance network of illustrators and photographers. She's a former board member of AIGA Minnesota, was recently named one of AdFed’s “32 Under 32”, and has been featured in Communication Arts,, and Adobe Creative Jam. Melanie’s work is driven by a deep understanding of how art and design moves people towards social change.
Idil Hashi
Idil holds a marketing degree from the University of St. Thomas and is the founder of Root Collective Consulting, a purpose-driven business strategy consulting firm. As a freelancer and solopreneur, Idil is dedicated to working with mission-driven brands, socially conscious businesses, and soulful entrepreneurs who want to create opportunities for aligned profitability. Idil splits her time between working in the healthcare sector as a program director, helping entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, and managing various creative projects as a freelancer. Over the years, she had the privilege to dip her toes in various industries; from non-profits to purpose-driven start-ups, to healthcare, to the sports industry, allowing her to work directly with the youth as a marketer and mentor: All for the betterment of love and community. During her spare time, you can find her riding her bike around the trails of South Mpls and stopping at every cafe she sees to get a taste of their iced coffee.
Miku is a visual artist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their distinctive illustrations are wondrous reflections of life's struggles, triumphs and everything in between. Art has played an integral role in Miku's quest to embrace their own identity and they create in hopes it may do the same for others. Their work ranges from printmaking, brand collaboration, exhibitions, pop-ups, personal projects and more.
Brandon Werth
Vagrancy of mind. Forever wandering paws, that leave impressions in moss carpeted floors as soft as a babies skull. I've been dreaming for many years and these images I get to create and cultivate mean more to me than I could ever put into words. You have to find something you love to do and do it for the rest of your life, for me it is these photographs. My ideas may be wild at times but my heart follows close.
Nyemadi Louise Dunbar
Nyemadi Louise Dunbar is a creative strategist and storyteller currently pursuing her MBA part-time at St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business. She has spent her career amplifying communications and strengthening operations for nonprofit organizations, small businesses and a tech company. Raised in Minneapolis, the daughter of Liberian immigrants, she is dedicated to eradicating oppression and destructive -isms toward seeing society fully realize itself as an inclusive, safe and welcoming place full of empowered people who have the access and opportunity to thrive. Consistently curious about the world – and galaxy – around her, she explores through travel, tunes, the collection of books, engaging in conversation and putting pen to paper. Nyemadi holds a special place in her life for physics, fashion and film photography.
Michael Kleber-Diggs
Michael Kleber-Diggs is a poet and essayist. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s, Poetry City, North Dakota Quarterly, Pollen Midwest, Paper Darts, Water~Stone Review and a few anthologies. He enjoys collaboration with visual artists. Michael is a past Fellow with the Givens Foundation for African-America Literature, a past-winner of the Loft Mentor Series in Poetry, and the inaugural Poet Laureate of Anoka County libraries. His work has been supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Michael is husband to Karen. Karen and Michael have a daughter who is an accomplished dancer.
David Williams
David Williams focuses on the ethical impacts of truthful, kind, and empowering narratives of personhood. He’s writing his PhD thesis and writing grant proposals and reports for a highly impact nonprofit that supports communities across Minnesota. David is delighted to play a role in telling stories that bring power to people, and he hopes to continue learning the forms of writing for empowerment.