Summer of 2019 marked the beginning of the 50th Anniversary celebrations at the University of Georgia's College of Environment and Design [CED]. As usual, many committees and subcommittees were formed to organize a variety of events and celebrations.
An interesting communication happened between the Circle Gallery Exhibit committee and the Student Events committee. The gallery committee, in the middle of a deep dive into archival material, unearthed old posters from T.O.S.S.E.D S.A.L.A.D and passed them along to student committee member Lynn Abdouni, PhD student, who then shared them with her peers. These posters, created by students Tres Fromme (MLA) and Mike Landers (MHP) in the mid-90s 1994-1996, were living testaments to a fleeting moment of a student rebellion at the College. This resonated with a group of graduate students at CED, who thought that perhaps it was time to shake things up. Under the umbrella of the 50th anniversary, this group gathered and began conceptualizing fresher grounds for the future. This group became a collective, operating as a hybrid between a study group and a movement that strives to instill change by taking action.
While deliberating for names, the name 'Let Us', suggested by PhD student Yi 'Thea' Cui, quickly gained traction amongst the group. MEPD student Louis Crow suggested that the logo can be an actual lettuce, in a gentle nod towards TOSSED SALAD. MLA student Matt Quiery illustrated the collective's trademark Bib Lettuce, thus anchoring the group's identity.
Following the memo of TOSSED, Lettus posted a series of lead-in posters that raise questions on the College's curriculum, on the industry's present, on the current student culture. This was not an isolated line of questioning as it was contemporary of the student open letter to ASLA to address climate change. After a few poster iterations (that didn't make quite the expected impact), MLA student Whitney Barr proposed rotating group leadership, thus shifting the collective's MO from poster campaigns to project-based initiatives. That meant any student who had the idea, time, and enthusiasm for an 'intervention project', could make a pitch to fellow Lettus members. If the project garners traction and interest from enough members, a project crew would be formed, captained by the student who made the pitch.
The first project pitch adopted by Lettus was the CED student survey, proposed by MLA student Felipe Barrantes. The survey, an anonymous online questionnaire, prodded issues of curriculum, resources, and culture in the college. This was followed by a Town Hall (Feb 28, 2020) that pressed efforts to propose innovations and solutions led by students. The culmination of these events is currently being compiled into a report.
Lettus grew to house other student-led projects :
Lettus Talk Podcast, led by Saba Serkhel and Brett Conn (MUPD'21).
The Virtual Crit Room, led by Lynn Abdouni (PhD'21).
The College Plaza Project, led by Whitney (Barr, MLA'21).
The CED Caffeine Coffee Cart, led by Nora Gellona-Wagoner (BLA'23).