Morcos Key

What Does a Portrait of Community Stress Look Like?

When communities face repeated shocks—environmental crises, poverty, racism, natural disasters, violent incidents, or persistent public health problems, such as the opioid crisis—stress accumulates over time. This affects community well-being from generation to generation and makes it harder to respond to future traumas. What can be done to break this cycle?

Morcos Key created this animation to depict community stress, its negative effects, and what could help communities respond to and recover from traumas.

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The primary image is a collage of faces (including some personal photos from designer Jonathan Key) that represent the concept of community. “Collage is a powerful tool to bring seemingly disparate ideas and forms together,” said Key. “This collage is a portrait of the different voices, people and generations that shape a community.” The animation then highlights factors that allow stress to build in communities—often resulting in despair, disinvestment, and disparity—followed by the factors that can help communities respond, recover, and become more resilient over time.

More RAND Insights on Community Stress

Does a more stressful and frayed day-to-day environment make it harder for some communities to respond and recover from traumatic events? Could a better understanding of how stress builds in communities lead to more effective policies to confront it?

These questions are at the heart of a RAND study that examined whether and how stress accumulates in a community (similar to how it does in the human body). Based on their findings, the authors created a framework to help public health officials and other leaders mitigate stress levels in a community and promote greater overall health and well-being among residents.

About Morcos Key

Portrait of Morcos Key

Morcos Key is the Brooklyn-based design studio of Jon(athan) Key and Wael Morcos. In their work, they often collaborate with arts and cultural institutions, nonprofits, and commercial enterprises in North America and the Middle East. Their goal is to create visual systems that demonstrate how thoughtful conversation and formal expression make for impactful design.

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