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Excluded by Design

A call for better public notices.

About the film

Writer and community organizer Dave Meslin thinks that bad public notices are hurting our democracy—and he's calling on graphic designers to show us what we're missing.

Simon Madore, Gabriel Tougas

David Baeta

Chaz Beaudette

Robert Mentov, Shauna Townley

Chelsea Bennett

Sound Recordist
Igal Petel

Mario Lepage


About the Directors

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Simon Madore

Simon Madore is a French-Canadian filmmaker based in Toronto with almost two decades of experience in the television industry. Throughout that time he has worked on multiple documentary series addressing issues of public concern in Canadian society; subjects like globalism, plastic pollution and language rights in Canada.

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Gabriel Tougas

Gabriel Tougas is a filmmaker and television director based in Winnipeg. Over the past decade, he has written and directed more than fifty hours of French-language lifestyle and documentary programming, broadcast nationally on TVA, TFO, SRC, AMI-télé and APTN. Frequent themes in Gabriel's work include environmentalism, cultural identity and youth engagement. 

Artist Statement

Why public notices?

Because in a world of huge challenges and seemingly insurmountable problems, this is an underestimated issue that is relatively easy to fix. The bar is so low that even a small change would be a huge improvement—and we know this because many municipalities across Canada are starting to do it. Civic engagement has many obstacles. Better notices won't fix everything, but improving them gets the ball rolling on a healthier culture of participation.

Public notices form and content are legally mandated. The bureaucracy doesn't get to pick how they look; notices need to look that way.

Okay, but laws and bylaws are changed all the time; they're not immutable. If the notices aren't serving their purpose, let's change the mandate so they do. And even if we imagined that that was somehow impossible, there is always another way. Why couldn't we put up two notices? A big, clear, beautiful sign next to the small, unlegible, legally mandated one.

What was your favourite quote from Dave that didn’t make the cut?

Glad you asked! Here it is: I think a lot of people see civic engagement as a chore. When I talk about, 'everyone should get involved,' they're like, 'Oh, what a hassle,' but it's the opposite. Why would you want someone else making decisions for you? When you were a kid, your mom decided what you'd wear. Don't you like that you get to choose your own clothes now? When we let government do stuff on our behalf without participating, you're kind of letting your mom decide what you're wearing. We're being dressed by our mom. Let's grow up. Let's take control of our cities, our parks, our neighborhoods and put on our own clothes.

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