Design Makes a Statement in “Need to Talk” Billboard, Designed by Cactus

Times Square’s New Digital Sign Activates Change and Social Justice

With an eye on the intersection of design and social justice, interdisciplinary architecture and design firm Cactus has partnered with The Justice Collaborative’s Need To Talk campaign and Color of Change for an impactful new dynamic billboard in Times Square [video]. Positioned directly across from the Square’s New York Police Department station, Cactus designed the billboard’s visuals and messaging to bluntly engage with the NYPD, New Yorkers, and the country. Through Cactus’ creative direction and design, the billboard aims to participate in an urgent conversation about the disparities between funds dedicated to policing as compared to other social programs and interventions.

Cactus leveraged their signature, multifaceted approach to produce a digital billboard that blends visual and spatial design for a resounding impact. Placing the billboard with a bird’s eye view of the NYPD station, the billboard’s messaging opens with the lines, “Hey NYPD. It’s us. NYC residents. The ones who pay your salary. We paid $300 million to settle your lawsuits. You paid nothing. We need to talk.”

“When we initially connected with the team at The Justice Collaborative project, we decided to put the focus on the numbers and statistics that are inarguable,” notes Cactus Co-Founder Noah Waxman. “From there, the stark graphics and videos really do the talking. The power and impact of the piece really lies in its simplicity.”

Some notable featured figures include:

  • The $300 million to settle NYPD lawsuits over the last five years could instead fund proven non-police violence interruption programs and summer youth employment in every neighborhood in NYC for the next 5 years.
  • The $327 million per year that NYC residents pay for police in schools with no impact on public safety, could instead fund full four-year scholarships for over 4,000 students to attend NY state colleges.
  • The $635 million NYC residents pay in just overtime for NYPD officers could instead house every single one of the 14,000 homeless families now living in NYC. And then pay a year’s worth of rent for 7,000 families out of work and at risk of eviction because of the pandemic.

Adds Scott Hechinger, TJC Senior Advisor on Law & Media, “We’re proud to have worked with Cactus and Color of Change on this project. Design has the opportunity to go beyond beauty and innovation to support true social change, and Cactus’ work on this unique project proves that through and through.”

Upon its completion, the billboard directs people to, a website from The Justice Collaborative that asks people to imagine a better way to prevent violence, support youth, and remedy homelessness.

The billboard will run until the end of September.


Cactus is a design firm working at the intersection of physical and digital space. Part architecture studio, part software engineering firm, part innovation consultancy, Cactus is a first-of-its-kind hybrid. Working with visionary clients across a range of industries including retail, fitness, medicine, entertainment, non-profit and hospitality, Cactus designs and builds new experiences, products and services united by one goal: to create the future that we want to live in. | Instagram.