From ARCADE Issue 31.4Part of a series of posts sharing infographics and data visualizations highlighted the issue feature, "Designing Data." Subscribe to receive ARCADE in print.

Vendor Power

“Vendor Power!” is a publication from The Center for Urban Pedagogy’s “Making Policy Public” program. The CUP is a non-profit organization based in Brooklyn, and as such, a non-traditional publisher of data visualizations. Their “Making Policy Public” program can be considered a form of activist journalism—design and writing that uses data and other factual information to deliberately and transparently advocate for a specific objective or point of view.

The “Making Policy Public” program seeks to make public policy accessible, meaningful and shared. The series includes twelve printed guides to date, each the product of a commissioned collaboration between a designer and an advocate.

The guides are distributed by the advocacy partners directly to their constituents—the people who most need to know about these important issues. Because they are portable and use visual explanations to break down complex issues, the publications make policy accessible and interesting to non-experts. In the case of “Vendor Power!”, the guide has helped encourage communication between New York City vendors and the multiple agencies who oversee their activities.—ARCADE

"Vendor Power!"

Design: Candy Chang
Collaborators: Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and the Street Vendor Project
Created through the CUP's Making Policy Public program

In 2009, The Street Vendor Project, designer Candy Chang and the Center for Urban Pedagogy created "Vendor Power! to decode rules and regulations for New York City’s approximately twenty thousand street vendors. This folding poster uses simple graphics and minimal text – translated in the five languages most commonly spoken among NYC’s vendors – to help these individuals understand their rights and avoid the unnecessary fines that result from many of the most-often violated laws.

Vendor Power detail

Vendor Power detail

Vending regulations are typically communicated in complex legal writing. For example, below is a portion of NYC Code Section 35-A, which includes rules specifically for vendors who are US veterans.

"Veterans of the armed forces who vend in cities having a population of one million or more:

(i) no specialized vending licensee shall occupy more than eight linear feet of public space parallel to the curb in the operation of a vending business and, in addition, no specialized vending licensee operating any vending business on any sidewalk shall occupy more than three linear feet to be measured from the curb toward the property line; (j) each specialized vending licensee who vends from a pushcart or stand in the roadway shall obey all traffic and parking laws, rules and regulations as now exist or as may be promulgated, but in no case shall a specialized vending licensee restrict the continued maintenance of a clear passageway for vehicles; (k) no specialized vending licensee shall vend using the surface of the sidewalk, or a blanket or board placed immediately on the sidewalk or on top of a trash receptacle or cardboard boxes to display merchandise. No specialized vending licensee display may exceed five feet in height from ground level. ..."

In addition to clear explanations of general vendor requirements (having a license, vending in a legal spot), the guide also clarifies relatively arcane details (for instance, how far from the curb vendors must place their tables, as described above) and provides advice from more experienced vendors on “ways to a better vendor world.”