Big Brain Awards 2014: Meet the Finalists and Our First Urban Legend Winners

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After 22 years in the field, the 61-year-old prefers teaching third-year and graduate students — many of whom have gone on to be prominent in the graphic design field. Danielle Gerard, now based in New York City, has worked on web designs for Steve Madden, while Lauren Weiss, part of Studio W Group in Los Angeles, has done product design for cosmetics company Arbonne Intl. and Coco's Restaurant & Bakery. And Justin Holloway, who graduated from the school in 2012, returned to ASU — this time as a web designer for the School of Sustainability.

Those are the moments, as students near the end of their collegiate careers, when the creativity flourishes, Patel says. Students are directed on what to do up until that point, so when the opportunity for self-exploration through design presents itself (something with which he is personally familiar) — well, the process is always rewarding. — Janessa Hilliard


Daniel Mills | Urban Vision
Daniel Mills spends his time thinking about the big concepts: identity, sustainability, and place, to name a few. The 22-year-old ASU English grad got his start as a blogger, covering the local art beat at www.phxtaco.com, but last fall he decided it was time to take his passion for telling stories to a new level. Thus, www.sprawlr.org was born.

"Whenever you talk to people here who are trying to do something a little bit innovative or outside the box, the focus is not just that they are doing something ambitious, it's that they're doing something ambitious under the weight of living in Arizona," Mills says. "We constantly see ourselves as struggling against the hostile desert environment and the hostile cultural environment, but I see this as very retroactive."

With Sprawlr, Mills hopes to combat the corrosive mentality, offering up an alternative way of envisioning our desert home.

"A physical place is a living entity in itself, and it is constantly changing. Instead of seeing ourselves as the subjects of this place that are constantly being affected by it, we should think about how we can also affect and change it."

The project is still in its beginning stages, but after spending four months in the evening program at Seed Spot, a nonprofit organization that supports social entrepreneurs, Mills feels that everything is falling into place. Sprawlr will be structured as a nonprofit that encompasses many projects aimed at positively affecting society. "My overall goal is to have something that doesn't limit me to one thing, but opens me up to a lot of different projects," he says.

Mills wants to get involved with limited-release art prints and public art projects, but Sprawlr's first major undertaking is Sprawlr Magazine, a digital publication with stories that redefine and reimagine Arizona.

"Sprawlr Magazine is a commitment to long-form journalism and trying to find a viable format for that in the digital space. There are a lot of experiments going on with how to carry journalism on into the 21st century, and I want to be a part of that," Mills explains. "There's this perception that people just want little bits and pieces of media, that they just want quick photos they can power through, but I don't think that's true."

Mills has already assembled a small team of writers and photographers interested in covering a wide array of topics, but personally, he's excited to write about the issues surrounding new development projects and construction on the outskirts of Phoenix.

The name "Sprawlr" couldn't be more fitting, but the implications are what really make it interesting: "It's the idea of taking a name that is levied against us and using it as our own — rebranding it for a new identity," says Mills. "It all comes back to this idea of identity. If we're living in this place that's the poster child for sprawl, then we are sprawlers, and our stories of what it's like to live in this place will be the stories of Sprawlr Magazine." — Katrina Montgomery

Phoenix Spokes People | Urban Vision
Anna Allebach-Warble started Phoenix Spokes People thanks to a car accident.

After totaling her car in fall 2011, she decided to use her two perfectly good bicycles to get around town. And she hasn't looked back since. She quickly found that poor cycling conditions made her commute difficult. Almost every day, she arrived at work angry about the state of cycling in Phoenix. That is, until one day she decided to "stop complaining and start talking to like-minded people about how to make it better."

A little over a year after the first meeting, Phoenix Spokes People has accomplished more than just talking about making it better — it has taken decisive action to improve the landscape of cycling in Phoenix through fun group rides and a lot of (admittedly boring) budget hearings.

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