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The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

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WordPress is still a hot technology in 2014, and the CMS of choice for the majority of web designers continues to go from strength to strength.

There are some great new – and free – themes that have been released or received major updates since the start of 2014. Now all you have to do is pick your favorite and install. What are you waiting for?

Every month we’ll be bringing you our pick of the best free WordPress themes released over the last 4 weeks. Here are our picks for February:

Alpha Forte

The attraction to Alpha Forte is in the big, custom background behind the blogging theme. The theme features a three-column layout, two widget areas in the sidebar and is mobile friendly. But what really draws you to the theme is the big-photo design.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

TYPAL Business

TYPAL Business is a pretty powerful business theme with a lot of great options. It’s fully responsive and can be customized in almost every way, including headers, widgets, menus and backgrounds. The theme also includes sticky posts and is Theme-Check tested.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Elisium

This responsive theme is designed for business websites and has plenty of options for customization from logo to homepage content to social media integration. Elisium‘s look is clean and modern and includes plenty of content areas.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Anarcho Notepad

The creator of Anarcho Notepad created a theme which he says was inspired by the idea of anarchy. The easily customized theme uses the latest HTML 5, CSS3 and WordPress native functions for a notebook-style blog. So far, this theme is generating a lot of downloads.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Mega Responsive

Mega Responsive, as the name implies, is a fully responsive theme that includes a nice infinite scroll feature. The clean, minimalistic style design was created with the flat style in mind and is SEO ready. The theme also offers a variety of customization options from color to a random image tool.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Nova Lite

Nova Lite is a responsive theme based on the Twitter Bootstrap framework, designed in the flat style. Unlike many similar themes, what makes this Nova different is that is includes an unlimited number of sidebars and galleries. The free theme also comes with 14 default skins for different looks, three custom widgets and widget areas and customizable backgrounds.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Obscura

Obscura is a theme designed to show off great images. The two-column design is appropriate for a portfolio or photography business website. The design is responsive and supports the popular NextGEN Gallery plugin to manage photo galleries. Almost all of the features are customizable as well, including navigation, menus, widgets and backgrounds.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Zippy

If you are looking for a small and clean responsive theme, Zippy might be the option for you. The theme is designed with small businesses in mind and is perfect for people who don’t want to deal with code. The simple layout includes a flexible slider, social link tools and multiple footer widgets.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Bizznis

This parent business-style theme is made for WordPress site owners who don’t want to touch complicated code or development aspects of the site. Bizznis is fully responsive, secure and fast. While this theme does not include a ton of options, the included features (categories, shopping cart, search) are designed with business owners in mind.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Undiscovered

Undiscovered is an elegant theme that includes a responsive layout and retina-ready graphic display. The theme includes a slew of post formats, making it a great platform for bloggers. Undiscovered also supports commenting, galleries (with a slider) and plenty of color, logo and typeface customization options. The theme also includes a massive social media bundle with icons for 18 popular social media networks.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

x2

If you want a blog that has plenty of neat animations and extras, x2 is the place to look. With three slideshow options, widget areas and a ton of customization options — including light and dark color schemes — this theme is made for ease of building. Other features include support of the common BuddyPress, bbPress and WooCommerce.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Infinitano

This simple responsive theme is built on the popular Twitter Bootstrap framework and is best used for blogs, where the focus is on text content rather than visuals. Infinitano includes customization options and dual-level dropdown navigation.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Isis

Isis is a clean responsive theme is power-packed for visual design. It includes two home page layouts, social icons, four widgets, a large slider, three page templates and more. The design scheme works for a variety of website types, from business sites to portfolios or blogs. All you need to get started is a few great images.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Journal Box

This flexible blog theme features a high color design (with two color options) and a two column layout. Journal Box includes a handful of interactive elements as well, including a profile box for the blog owner and share buttons that can be embedded in each post.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Lithium

Lithium is a super-simple theme is designed for bloggers on Twitter Bootstrap. It includes simple posting, social media linking, and widgets for popular posts, Flickr integration and video. While the theme is free, you must share a link to download it.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Blogly Lite

Designed for bloggers, Blogly Lite is an almost-feminine styled flat theme with a variety of customization options. The theme is fully responsive and has a quite refined look and feel for a free theme. (An upgraded version is also available which unlocks additional widgets and customization options.)

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Exility-light

Exility-light is a simple theme is designed for blogs and features large image areas. The two-column layout is widget-ready and includes a custom menu and two sidebars. The simple design is attractive and user-friendly.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

MiniMag Pro

Designed with flat styling, MiniMag Pro packs a lot of power and clean design into a free theme. The blogging theme is fully responsive and SEO ready. The theme also includes a slider, customizable calendar, multiple post formats and has been tested in all popular web browsers. This theme also includes a ton of customization tools from color to custom logo to the appearance of the slider. This theme is one of the more feature-packed free themes available.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Nictitate

It’s easy to see why Nictitate is one of the most downloaded WordPress themes of the month. This theme features a modern and bright design with plenty of features. It is fully responsive, includes custom widgets, includes localization support, unlimited sidebars and allows for easy integration of Google Analytics and social links and sharing. For a free theme, Nictitate also has a lot of embedded goodies from neat animations to videos and clean typography.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Future

Future is a clean and creative theme that includes a good number of features. The theme is designed in the trendy flat style and is retina ready. Future’s free version includes plenty of customization tools, post formats, featured images, widgets and is SEO ready. The downside to Future is that you have to upgrade to the pro theme for the responsive layout.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

MeadowHill

For a theme with a big image area, MeadowHill delivers. The responsive theme uses an almost parallax style with a long scroll design. It includes five color schemes, a ton of customizable menu and widget areas, social sharing functions and the ability to create a variety of custom shortcodes or custom CSS. This theme also includes the ability to translate into five languages.

The best free WordPress themes, February 2014

Have you used any of these themes in a project? Have we missed one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments.

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The Best New Portfolio Sites, April 2017

Hey readers. I’d go for some sort of April fool’s joke, but I’m having a hard time competing with reality these days. I did, however, manage to coin a new term for a design trend that I’ve been seeing a lot.

You can find that about three websites in. So what are you waiting for? Go (ethically) steal some ideas!

Hugo Brook

Hugo Brook’s portfolio doesn’t bother with imagery, and for good reason. Hugo is primarily a developer. The emphasis is placed on describing the tools he uses, and linking to live site’s that he’s worked on.

The monospaced typographical approach fits the theme, and the vertical navigation is an interesting touch.

CreatLive Studios

CreatLive Studios puts their work front and center in a fairly typical masonry layout. Bonus points for the use of yellow. Things get really good, however, when browsing through their individual projects, and on the Services page. These are the parts of the site where their particular style really comes into play.

Hula Hoop

Hula Hoop’s portfolio uses a combination of familiar hipster typography and asymmetry, resulting in an aesthetic I’m going to start calling “post-business”. It’s a style that aspires to be professional, yet stylish, with aspirations to artistry.

It’s not a bad look, but I’m starting to feel that it’s not nearly as original as people hope. Still, Hula Hoop uses it well, and combines it with a bold red color scheme. I mean it…all the text is red. You’d think that wouldn’t work, but they pull it off.

Patrick David

It’s not every day that you get to see a site’s grid (or part of it) incorporated into the finished product. Patrick David seems to have done just that in his one-page portfolio. Heck, while I’m making up names for design styles, I’m going to call this one “programmer-chic”.

I keep making up names like this, I’m going to have to start a dictionary site.

Rakesh

Rakesh has taken the rock star approach to marketing in that I haven’t been able to find his last name yet. His site looks fantastic, though. There’s a huge emphasis on typography in this mostly-monochrome sites, and it never starts to feel stale as you browse through it.

Mashvp

Mashvp is classically minimalist, with lots of white space and large type. There’s not much that stands out on its own except that strangely hypnotic “swinging” letter M on the home page. Put the whole thing together, though, and you get an eye-pleasing site that gets the job done.

Brooke Promnitz

It’s hard to make a site look professional and playful at the same time, without it looking tacky. Brooke Promnitz has done it. Everything from the color choices to the typography gives off a fun-loving vibe, but still makes you seriously consider hiring her.

Shantell Martin

Shantell Martin is an artist, and that definitely show in her site. It’s wild, it’s playful, and then it gets all minimalist and asymmetrical as your browse deeper into the site. Now, I’m not sure why they mixed some of the navigation into the animated illustrations on the home page. It’s easy to miss in there, even being as big as it is.

Still, this is all about finding new design ideas, and this site has plenty to share. (Hint, click on the logo. It’s worth it.)

Prashant Sani

Prashant Sani has combined that aforementioned programmer-chic aesthetic with a fair bit of animation, and a lot of geometry-themed imagery. It’s bold, it’s stark, it’s very nerdy. The navigation feels a bit over the top for a one-page portfolio, but it’s a great-looking site overall.

Drexler

I am on a roll today, because I get to make up another term. Drexler’s home page has inspired me, and I’m calling it the parallax collage. Go, scroll down that page. You’ll see it pretty quickly.

Meanwhile, the rest of the site doesn’t let up, because the portfolio section has an honest to God marquee. I mean, okay, it uses the aside element, but I thought marquees were basically dead. A relic of the Geocities era, and Yahoo’s old home pages. Shows how much I know.

Sam Williams

It’s minimalist, it’s dark, it’s actually kind of low-key for a video portfolio. After all of the over-the-top video portfolios I’ve seen, I’m okay with this.

Art Processors

This portfolio might feel like a museum website, and it’s supposed to. Art Processors make multi media experiences for museums, to help show off the exhibits, and inform the visitors. Therefore, the site uses a lot of muted tones, subdued typography, and a lot of white space. It all fits together perfectly, given their clientele.

Basic

Basic does everything from branding, to websites, to video production. To accommodate all of that, they keep their aesthetics fairly simple, and animate the heck out of everything. Between the solid type, and the heavy use of video, they’re showing off. And I can’t say it didn’t work on me.

Vyctoire

Vyctoire is pleasantly minimalist, and highly animated. It almost feels like it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a site that was more like a presentation, but here we are. That’s mostly on the home page, though.

So while this site won’t be winning any accessibility prizes, I still enjoyed browsing through it. The animation is done in a tasteful, almost understated way. The whole thing just looks great.

subsign

subsign isn’t anything special in terms of layout or type, but there’s a vibrance to the whole site that I can’t help but enjoy. As much as I love my minimalist, mono-or-duo-chromatic designs, I also gotta love a site that just goes all out with the color and life. It it a little distracting sometimes? Sure, but when you need to do actual reading, they do tone it down quite a bit.

Parallax

Parallax’s site is extremely minimal and uses no JS whatso… I’m kidding, obviously. It’s called “Parallax”, so it’s got more animations than you can shake a stick at.

Even without the animation, though, this would be a visually impressive site. It takes that post-business feel to a whole new level. They use every layout trick in the book to keep you staring, and it worked on me.

Brand Almanac

Okay, I know I said that using yellow well is an easy way to impress me. Brand Almanac might be taking it a little far with that home page. That said, Brand Almanac is now one of the most easily memorable sites on this list, not least because it was the last thing I saw before I lost my sight.

Okay, slight exaggeration. Still, I’d call it a bold choice… perhaps even a daring risk.

Sebastian Graz

Sebastian Graz brings us a portfolio that embraces asymmetry like many others, but without the nearly compulsory post-modern or artsy feel that many others employ. It gives me the sense that he’s not showing off. He’s just showing you his work, and having a little fun on the way.

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The best new portfolio sites, December 2016

It’s that time of the year when people all round the world gather in their homes, with their loved ones. They sing songs, consume beverages both warm and cold, and tell stories of the greatest portfolio sites they’ve ever seen. Then Jeffrey Zeldman comes down the chimney, hauling a bag full of books on usability.

How great would that be, if it were true?

This month’s theme is, if anything, the French. Well, a few of this month’s sites are French, anyway. Besides that, I’m seeing an upturn in the number of sites that divide the design in vertical halves, at least on the home page. Enjoy!

David Robert

I wasn’t kidding about the French. Our first entry is from David Robert, a French designer with a penchant for monochrome designs paired with minimalism. Okay, we’ve seen a lot of that lately, but it’s done well here, and the layout is atypical.

Plus, I kinda love the little “film-blur” effect applied to some text on hover. It’s kind of classic and grunge at the same time. Oh go look, it works.

Playful

Playful has yet another site that’s more presentation than site. They live up to their name, though, with lots of vibrant color and subtle animation.

The one thing I’d criticize is the way text is placed over images. It makes the text less-than-readable. You can steal good ideas from the rest of the site, though.

Christopher Hall

Christopher Hall is an interior and furniture designer. His site brings us some more of that “split-down-the-middle” design. In this case, it’s a form of categorization. His furniture is on the left, and his interiors are on the right.

Other pages stick with the two-column layout, if not the dimensions, tying the whole design together. From there on out, it’s all minimalist, serif-heavy goodness.

ueno

ueno combines beautifully-executed minimalism with a timeline layout for the portfolio. This is one you’ll be looking at just for the typography.

Made Together

Made Together starts off with a lot of solid blue, and some geometric shapes. This is almost a design style in its own right, these days.

From there, the site moves on to a familiar layout. The typography is eye-catching and feels perfect for the style of the site overall.

blackballoon

blackballoon gives us a proper dark website design. This is one of those sites that doesn’t make you worry about mundane things like “text” or “reading” very much. It’s all about the imagery, the animation, and the sheer sense of style. It works, too.

Standard

Standard is a video production studio that, as you may expect, depends on background video to start off their showcase. From there, you can browse through their videos, or through their rather massive list of directors. Take a look at this section especially,it’s quite stylish.

It’s got that now-typical presentation feel to it, but given the content, it works rather well.

Zengularity

Zengularity doesn’t do anything particularly out of the box, but everything is done quite well. Look at it for color ideas, typography, and general style.

Lundgren+Lindqvist

Lundgren+Lindqvist is one of those sties where you might feel like you’ve seen this before, but it’s still definitely “theirs”. It walks the line between minimalist and brutalist, with the occasional pixel-graphics touch.

I think I’m going to start calling this “low-fi minimalism”. I kind of like it.

Adam Widmanksi

Adam Widmanksi’s portfolio takes us far away from brutalism to deliver some of that post-modern minimalism that was all the rage earlier this year. Combining this with distinctive typography, striking images, and asymmetry, it’s a visual feast.

B14

B14 put a lot of thought, time, and effort into this modern design. But whatever impression they intended to make has been overshadowed by what may be the single greatest compliment my fianceé has ever given to a website: “Well, my grandma could read those letters.”

After that, I can’t bring myself to put in any other description. Usability is what it’s all about, people.

Nicolas Paries

Some websites go for a collage-like feel in their design. Nicolas Paries’ portfolio site almost feels like it’s an actual scrapbook. While that does make for reduced text legibility sometimes, it’s a refreshingly chaotic site experience. And yet, it’s still pretty usable.

Colin Simpson

Colin Simpson uses the now-classic single-column, full-width style of portfolio. What he does to stand out is make great use of skewed perspectives to show off his design work. Inside his case studies, he lays out the individual design elements in each project: the color palette, the typography, any custom elements, and even wireframes.

It gives you a lot of context for each project, and a few clues about how he works.

Daru Sim

Daru Sim uses a card-style UI to show off his portfolio in a masonry layout. When you consider just how well-suited a card-style UI is to a portfolio, I do kind of wonder why people don’t use it more.

João Amaro da Costa

João Amaro da Costa brings us a minimalist layout that manages to be responsive while still proving that “pixel-perfect” quality that everyone used to advertise about five years ago.

It may be flexible, but it is also meticulously executed, and it looks all the better for it.

Design Militia

Design Militia’s site is largely enterprise-looking, which makes sense, given their clients. A simple layout with dependable typography lands this site a spot in the article this month.

Metin Bilgin

Metin Bilgin’s site is a veritable smorgasbord of different styles with no apparent overarching theme. At least when you’re looking at the portfolio, the site’s style seems to change depending on which of his projects you’re looking at.

The rest of the site is minimalist, with the text-overlapping-other-elements style that we’ve all come to know.

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The secret to Airbnb’s successful rebrand

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Unless you’ve been abstaining from social media this week, it can hardly have escaped your notice that Airbnb, the global accommodation finder, has undergone a rebrand, included a brand new logo.

The official name for the logo mark is Bélo, and they’d like it to become “the universal symbol for belonging”. It’s an appealing notion, even if the cynic in me realizes that Nike would like their tick to become the universal symbol for running, and Apple would like their fruit to become the universal symbol for the Internet.

The secret to Airbnbs successful rebrand

The new Airbnb logo

Designed by London-based design studio, DesignStudio, the new logo is undeniably a substantial improvement on the original—which looked like the lettering from a ’90s sega video game. Despite this, within minutes of its unveiling the new design had begun to be mocked across the twitterverse.

The new mark has been likened to everything from a bear’s nose, to a stealth bomber, to female genitalia. What’s interesting is that almost everyone has an opinion on the company’s branding — it’s not a new phenomenon, the same thing happened with Yahoo — from hipster wannabe to hippie used-to-be, the whole world seems to value being perceived as design-literate.

The secret to Airbnbs successful rebrand

The original Airbnb logo

But if that’s the case, why did so many people begin by mocking the new mark? Well, the human eye is a strange device: rather than record what it sees, it records what it expects to see. That’s why devoutly religious people often see the image of a saint in their toast; it’s why people who watch too much porn saw Lisa Simpson doing something unspeakable in the London 2012 Olympics logo. We expect corporate logos to flop, because so many have before.

But if we’re objective, the new Airbnb logo looks no more like genitalia than a lowercase ‘d’, or (heaven forfend) a lowercase ‘a’.

I suspect the real reason most people began mocking the design is that it was simply fun. It’s irreverent, and carries with it a small victory for freedom over the power of the mighty corporation. And that, is exactly what Airbnb were aiming for.

With admirable self-assurance the marketing team at Airbnb have embraced the idea of a logo that can be altered, not just depending on what document it’s presented on, but everytime it’s used. They’ve even created a dedicated micro-site to help you create your own version of the Bélo. Renting out a lodge near Yellowstone park? Why not turn the logo into a bear’s face? Renting out rooms next to an airforce base? Why not turn the logo into a stealth bomber? There are probably apartments in Amsterdam mocking it up as genitalia right now.

My first thought when I saw the new design was that it looked like a map pointer; my second, was that it looked like someone providing shelter with their outstretched arms; thirdly, I felt it resembled the habitat logo that I’ve admired for years. I didn’t see the heart, or the keyhole, both of which are ‘official’ interpretations. But what matters to Airbnb, is that I had both a personal, and an emotional response: if I’m lost, they’ll point me in the right direction; if I need shelter, they’ll provide it; they’ve probably got some comfy bauhaus-style furniture.

Airbnb have recognized that every single member of their community is more than just a supplier, and that just as every room, apartment, town house, or lodge is unique; so too are the experiences they offer us. Airbnb’s rebrand provides a framework for each user to redefine the brand in their own way, without detracting from the overall identity.

The logo is so successful not because it represents the brand, but because it embodies the brand’s core values. It’s a design that is simultaneously intelligent, self-aware and brave.

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RETHINKING “INTEGRATION” AND “ASSIMILATION” OF REFUGEES

ISABELLA CREATURA | MARCH 13, 2017

Syrian refugees strike in front of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 3 September 2015.

The number of international migrants has increased by 41 percent between 2000 and 2014, and it reached 244 million in 2015, with 20 million of those migrants being refugees. To prevent this humanitarian crisis from turning into a humanitarian nightmare, the governments of the EU have been forced to collaborate in order to address the boats upon boats of people appearing on their shores. So far, however, teamwork has not worked and the response to the refugee crisis has been plagued by chaos and vitriol. Countries bicker over responsibility for the refugees, and many have focused on closing borders while pointing fingers at each other. The only consensus is that, if member states are to accept asylum seekers at all, asylum seekers need to be “integrated” into their host communities for this project to work. And integration is no simple task. Crafting programs to help newcomers settle into a new community requires planning and resources, and pushback from right wing xenophobes has been unhelpful. The question of how countries can most effectively include refugees and asylum seekers into their community looms. There are essentially two approaches in dealing with the problem: assimilationism and multiculturalism. Assimilationists  want newcomers to adopt the dominant values and common identity of a host country, while multiculturalists value respecting the identity of the newcomer and protecting cultural diversity.

The difference between integration and assimilation is significant. Assimilationist policies imply the loss of one’s distinct cultural identity. These policies often include an evaluation to determine whether the refugee or migrant has successfully adopted cultural customs — examples of this include a test imposed by the French government in the early 2000s. Meanwhile, integrationist policies promote multiculturalism and encourage exchange of cultural values between the two societies. Integration is the preferred course of action as it allows for a mutual relationship between refugees and the host society, which will eventually lead to successful integration in the future. These policies include access to education and language training, vocational training, access to health care and housing, and actions to support cultural exchange.

It should be obvious that long-term integration is only sustainable if diversity is valued, but in recent years the rapid influx of refugees has led to a fear-mongering campaign on the far right. Governments are consequently emerging as increasingly assimilationist, wherein policies that claim to be focused on “integration” are in fact promoting the dilution of the cultural identity of the newcomer and replacing it with that of the host country.  In 2011, for example, British Prime Minister David Cameron, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared the end of multiculturalism in Europe. Racism and discomfort had caused an increase in far-right extremist parties and political candidates. It had even led to violence, but the solution — per these three leaders — was to appease the violent right and encourage assimilation at the expense of cultural diversity. To these leaders’ credit, international human rights law does not address the issue of integration. Both international and European law establish the right to equality before the law, but there is no “right” to be integrated into another country. This leaves immigrant and refugee communities vulnerable to forced assimilation at the hands of the receiving state. There are no legal apparatuses to protect refugees and migrants from xenophobia-fueled assimilation attempts, and therefore these people’s fates are left to the discretion and ethos of the recipient country.”It should be obvious that long-term integration is only sustainable if diversity is valued, but in recent years the rapid influx of refugees has led to a fear-mongering campaign on the far right.”

The Migrant Integration Policy Index ranks countries based on how they invest in opportunities and rights for newcomers, focusing on the job market, education, political participation, health, residence, and family reunification. These researchers have determined that integration policies create more national unity. Countries with far-reaching integration policies usually provide the optimal environment for social cohesion, which benefits both the newcomers and society in general. Meanwhile, restrictive, assimilationist policies reinforce xenophobic attitudes and general division. These policies provide fuel to racist far-right political parties. This is not to say that positive integration policies immunize countries from racist extremism. Sweden — which the Migrant Integration Policy Index ranked first out of 38 developed countries — has experienced increased support from far right parties. Belgium — which also scored well — was used as a home base for many of those involved in the attacks in Paris in 2015. This simply proves that integrationist policies do not exist in a vacuum. Social norms need to be taken into consideration when implementing these policies.

The ideal refugee policy, which strikes a balance between integration and not just tolerating, but embracing multiculturalism, involves a series of policies that begin as soon as the newcomers cross the border into a new country. It is important for countries to implement an effective and efficient procedure for deciding who gets to stay, which requires multitudes of capable officials, so that recipient supply may be responsive to incoming demand. Many European countries have hundreds of thousands of refugees waiting to be seen for their first interview. According to one report, the average wait time for an initial asylum interview exceeds two years. Germany has responded to this problem by increasing its number of adjudicators, but many other countries are failing to follow suit.

In a report for Human Rights Watch, Judith Sunderland outlines the most important components of successful integration to be accommodation, access to employment and education, and family reunification. By encouraging immediate integration into the host community, these tasks are essential in encouraging multiculturalism. Newcomers immediately feel welcome and capable to tackle the social settings of their new communities.

Housing is essential when establishing integration into a host community. There are no EU or international laws about what kind of housing should be provided for an asylum-seeker. Housing that allows for interaction with the host community is ideal, but such a feat requires intense amounts of planning. It also requires a reallocation of resources. This could be achieved by constantly updating census information to confirm funds for education and other services in neighborhoods in which asylum-seekers are living. But this also requires resources that are unavailable in the host country. Many European nations choose to house asylum-seekers in camps, but this has negative implications for integration. Although it seems like the only option given the hundreds of thousands of migrants that are crossing borders, it has profoundly negative impacts on a refugee’s chances of integrating into the host country in the long term. Providing basic needs to asylum-seekers promotes integration rather than assimilation through fostering a positive relationship between the newcomer and the state from the very beginning. Housing asylum-seekers in camps until their claim is processed and their residency permits are awarded (perhaps after an assimilationist test) is detrimental to this relationship, and demonstrates that the state favors the breakdown of one’s cultural identity for replacement by that of the state.

Pretty much all asylum-seekers are eager to work, and helping them enter the workforce is beneficial to both the newcomers and to the host society. An EU law that passed last year requires countries to let newcomers work nine months after they file their application for asylum, but many countries still have not accepted the law into their national legislation. This is a detriment to the future of their workforce and to the future integration of asylum-seekers into these countries. Between the time at which these refugees arrive and when they find work, they are highly reliant on NGOs and other forms of external aid. This solidifies the fact that the government of their host country is not on their side.

It is nearly impossible to attend school during wartime, so it is essential that children have access to education once they relocate to new countries. Many news articles and think pieces on the Syrian Civil War are referring to children as the “lost generation.” Although it is possible to provide education in reception centers through volunteer programs, it is best to integrate children into the national school system. This can easily be done with the help of language classes. This is no small task, so it is important for governments to invest in training and support for all educational professionals involved in the process.

Family reunification is equally essential to successful integration. Many asylum seekers left their countries of origin in search of a better life for their loved ones. Reuniting with these loved ones is often an asylum seeker’s first priority. This poses a logistical problem for countries already struggling under the strain of refugees on their government system, but family reunification is essential to a refugee’s integration into the host country.  

Overall, successful integration is based on providing services to asylum seekers as soon as they reach their destination. Only through mindful integration can multiculturalism prevail. Newcomers need to feel that their identities — and more importantly their humanity — are being respected. Assimilationist policies do the exact opposite. They deny the cultural heritage of the asylum-seeker, leading to division and unrest in the future. Although international law does not address the issue of integration, the EU Common Basic Principles of Integration define integration as “a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents of Member States.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel has shown important leadership in heeding the definition from the Common Basic Principles. She has accepted over one million asylum seekers while facing tremendous political dissent. But despite this seemingly positive action, Merkel’s words are still strongly in favor of assimilation over integration. She has insisted that newcomers must adopt German values and culture. Her choice of assimilationist language is a calculated, sensationalist choice. She is giving in to the pressure from the far-right and employing their conceptions of xenophobia to her refugee policy. It is possible that Merkel is taking this lukewarm stance to appease those on the far right: If she were to be seen as too enthusiastic about integrating refugees into German society, she might be met with harsh pushback. However, this doesn’t mean that multiculturalism should be blatantly ignored. If the Chancellor was interested in long-term success of integrating refugees and migrants into German society — and therefore reaping the benefits of their societal contributions — she would be emphasizing the need to foster cultural exchange.  

People sometimes forget that the people depicted in images of camps or inflatable boats are still people who have the same wants and desires as any other citizen. They want to work, to be successful, to be educated, and to see their loved ones.

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WMC: How We Got Here & How You Can Help

WMC Fest aims to be the premiere design and music festival in the midwest. Three days and 70+ performances from August 16-18. We’ve got until June 5 to raise $7,000 on our Kickstarter. We recommend pledging at least $50 because you get various rewards such as $200 in design resources, tickets to the festival, t-shirts, limited edition posters, etc. Go here to make a pledge and choose your reward. If we do not reach our goal, we do not get any of the funds! You can help us reach our goal.

WMC: How We Got Here

My name is Jeff Finley, and I’m an artist with a vision. In 2010, I woke up with the compelling urge to start my own fest. At the time, I had been going to other punk rock fests to satisfy my musical passion while hitting up events like SXSW to fuel inspiration for my career as a designer. I was also inspired by the DIY nature of my friends, who played in bands and pursued their own creative side projects. They created their own way of making a living as an artist. They were weapons of mass creation.

I longed for an event in my own hometown that was NOT expensive, yet still catered to those three passions: Music, art, and entrepreneurship. What would a weapon of mass creation do? They would defy the hand they’re dealt.

Destination

In essence, I wanted to bring in bands and artists that inspired me so I could share that inspiration with my community. I love to inspire people and show them that we can all do this together. I wanted the artists to share their experience and show people they were more than just an avatar on the internet with an amazing portfolio. They are real people with real struggles just like us. They are down-to-earth, honest, passionate, and, above all else, eager to share and collaborate.

Our very first year!

A Growing Festival

The very first WMC Fest took place in May 2010. Despite last-minute cancellations and catastrophic venue obstacles, we made it through. I quickly found out it wasn’t just me who wanted this to happen. Dozens and dozens of people both locally and nationally were helping out. In fact, we may have even had more people volunteering at the festival than actual attendees! Embarrassing, but also cool if you think about it. There would have been no WMC Fest had it not been for the support of the community. While there was lots of positive support for the fest, I did face some criticism: Was this a design conference with bands or a music festival with design-related speakers? It should have more of this, or less of that. I was even criticized for “not being DIY enough” or the odd combination of punk rock music and DIY culture with commercial art. It was a rough start, but there was enough positive feedback to keep going.

Jessi Arrington showing me how to lead the parade

Despite spending more money than we earned, we had to do it again. WMC Fest 2 took place a year later, with Aaron Draplin keynoting and Dan Christofferson painting an epic mural in the gallery. Jessi Arrington threw an impromptu rainbow parade for my 29th birthday — one of the best moments of my life. Aaron Freeder captured some of the festival’s positive energy in his short film and the entire world got to get a glimpse into the magic we were able to create together. WMC 2 saw a dramatic increase in expenses despite getting more help from volunteers including Joseph Hughes and Jesse Sloan, who both put in countless hours booking speakers and bands. Once again, we were happy just to break even on expenses. People loved it and we had no plans on stopping!

WMC 3 took place last summer and we started being taken seriously by the local community. We drew more than 1,300 people, earning the attention of local news and NPR! The core team expanded to 4–5 dedicated volunteers and we had over 70 volunteers on-site. Lots of great vendors helped by donating goods and services and attendees chose to donate to our Kickstarter campaign as a way to show support and get their tickets at the same time.

Not enough seats last year. Something we are changing this year!

Becoming Self-Sustaining

Despite the immense joy we get from WMC, organizing a national caliber event like this is a strain on our day-to-day lives. While we LOVE doing it, it doesn’t exactly pay the bills. In my ideal scenario, WMC Fest pays for itself and pays a modest living wage for the small core team that organizes it.

My goal is to become self-sustaining. To continue to grow organically over-time and to make incremental improvements to the quality of the experience without putting too much of a strain on our lives. To continue booking top-notch bands and speakers. To grow the influence that our creative community has on the region at-large. We want to give exposure to artists that they couldn’t get otherwise. We want to bring the WMC lifestyle to the masses on a scale that is doable in the long-term.

I think our goal of becoming self-sustaining is very possible. Most of this is going to come from larger sponsors, but Kickstarter is a way that individuals like you can support the event — and get perks while doing it. If you’re going to buy a ticket, why not get some recognition and help a good cause while you’re at it?

WMC gets most of our revenue from sponsors, donations, and lots of help from volunteers

Why we need the funding?

Right now, WMC Fest is a $175,000 event that takes year-round planning from myself (Jeff Finley) and a core team of dedicated and passionate creative people. WMC is a passion project for us at Go Media, too. We do it because we love it. In order for us to KEEP doing it, we have to find ways to make WMC Fest pay for itself through sponsorship, tickets, merch, and donations. Half of our budget comes from in-kind donations of goods and services from sponsors and volunteers. We can only sell so many tickets to the event and our top priority is to keep the event affordable for attendees, unlike other big conferences and music festivals.

Why Kickstarter?

Someone asked us why we’re using Kickstarter again. Wasn’t our event Kickstarted the first year? Well, it depends on your definition of what Kickstarter does. Many Kickstarter campaigns exist for projects that are already started. They just allow fans to get the product (whether it’s a book, album, ticket, merch) that they would buy anyway with the added bonus of getting a little recognition and additional perks.

Attendees listening intently to their peers giving talks

I was actually planning on not doing it this year, but some attendees told me keep it because it keeps our community involved. I’ve realized our attendees are not just casual observers but folks who actively participate and collaborate. They help out. They are great supporters of the entire creative community. So this Kickstarter is for them as much as it is for us.

What’s new for 2013?

wmc4_kickstarter

A bigger venue that’s all in one place. More seats for speakers! No more having to walk down the street to see a band when you can just walk down the hallway. Everything will take place inside the beautiful Cleveland Public Theatre. There are going to be four stages and attendees can have much more freedom to explore!

Live recording of the Adventures in Design Podcast. After all the speakers are done on Saturday, the famous Adventures In Design podcast will be recording a live show at Weapons of Mass Creation! Mark Brickey, Billy Baumann, and James Flames will all be in attendance on the big stage doing what they do best … bullshitting about the industry that we all love so much. Be on the lookout for special guests and fun audience participation games. If you’re not familiar with the AID live show, imagine Late Night with David Letterman but all about design.

The Execute Lounge! After you’re inspired, head over to the Execute Lounge upstairs and get things done. Plenty of space to work and charge your devices. Inspired by Josh Long’s book Execute, which encourages us to act fast when inspiration strikes.

Workshops: Something new this year we want to add are workshops. Breakout sessions that are separate from the speakers for a separate admission cost. These workshops are intended to be smaller, with more participation from the audience. Keep an eye out on the schedule page for exact times and details.

wmc600x100

20 Speakers: Jon Contino, Jaqui Oakley, Brandon Rike, Lisa Congdon, Alonzo Felix, Kristy Tillman, Nick Disabato, Adam Garcia, Ann Friedman, Dylan Lathrop, John Jennings, These are Things, Christen Carter, Stewart Scott-Curran, Rena Tom, Kern and Burn, Caroline Moore, Stephanie Landes, Troy Deshano, and more TBA!

30+ Bands: Braid, Astronautalis, F Stokes, Whirr, Signals Midwest, Annabel, The Appleseed Cast, Tristen, William Tyler, Des Ark,  The Spring Standards, The Sidekicks, Football, Etc., Nothing, Deer Vibes, Shisho, Kitty Hawk, Outer Spaces, Glish, Cherry Cola Champions, Ages, Metavari, Ma Jolie, Cayetana, Worship This, Barrow, Living Room, Apart, Citycop, The Modern Electric, Muamin Collective, Freeze-Tag, Extra Medium Pony, Seafair, Filmstrip, So Long Albatross, Leah Lou & The 2 Left Shoes, Two Hand Fools, Ohio Sky and Regular Shoulders

20 Designers: Strawberry Luna, Mark Brickey, Derrick Castle, Lauren Marx, Andrio Abero, Katie Parland, Nicole Melville, Andrea Pippins, Dan Dickson, Jessica Paoli, and more.

The WMC Breakdance Battle: Breakdancing (aka b-boying) has been a major part of WMC Fest since WMC 2. Last year featured lots of freestyle cyphers, a 2-on-2 battle for a $500 cash prize, and a kids’ battle that was a huge hit with fans. We are upping the ante with a $1,000 cash prize and a live band performing classic b-boy breaks! Look for the breakdance event first thing on Saturday afternoon.

What kind of perks do I get?

  • High five club! You’ll get your name written on a hand graphic that will be on display at the festival for all attendees to see.
  • Reduced price on 3-Day Fest Passes
  • WMC shirts, stickers, and buttons.
  • WMC limited-edition screen printed posters.
  • Freelance Survival Kit from Go Media.
  • VIP Access
  • Custom Dribbble Shot designed by Jeff Finley as a thank-you
  • Vendor Tables
Tickets
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Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates

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One of the toughest tests any web designer is asked to undertake — and we all get asked at sometime or other — is to design an email.

Sure, we know what we want the email to look like, but how do you make it consistent across all the hundreds of email clients? And what’s this? Layouts built with tables?! Seriously, email design is a hugely difficult task for even the most seasoned of web designer.

So we’re delighted to announce that our sister-site, MightyDeals.com, has arranged a jaw-dropping 95% discount on these 11 professional grade email templates designed by ChocoTemplates.

There are over 100 color variations, so you can be sure to match your desired branding, and if you choose the PSD option with this deal you’ll get 528 layered PSD files, giving you complete freedom to customize any part of the design as you see fit.

All of the templates have been thoroughly tested in the leading email clients, so you can be sure your clients will see them as you intend. Most importantly of all, these templates are both MailChimp ready and CampaignMonitor ready; there really is no simpler way to branch out into email campaigns.

Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates
Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates
Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates
Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates
Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates
Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates
Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates
Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates
Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates
Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates
Deal of the week: 11 professional email templates from ChocoTemplates

The regular retail price for these templates is $242, but for a limited time you can download all 11 for just $12, that’s a 95% discount! Or, get all 11 templates and their PSD source files for just $18 instead of the regular price of $352!

Head over to MightyDeals to grab this offer today.