Interaction Design + Service Design: Thesis work

  • For my thesis project, I had been interested in what ways design thinking and digital technologies could be used to assist in the rebuilding of middle class America. I created a website and accompanying Facebook app that assist in organizing a neighborhood’s efforts by providing them tools that leverage their online exposure to attract volunteers and philanthropists alike. The workshop for this exploration have been under served neighborhoods in Oakland. Currently I am working with community organizations to assist in identifying problem spaces for potential improvement projects. These types of projects could range from playground development to solar-powered street lights.
    Overview: CommunityWorks is a crowd sourcing network that collects funds to purchase supplies needed to irrigate community, and eventually, individual projects alike, while at the same time building a tighter knit community through the encouragement and promotion of volunteering and philanthropy. Citizens are able to support local projects by pledging either volunteer time or donations through the CommunityWorks platform.
  • CommunityWorks enables...
    • Neighborhood groups to promote their projects to the community on our platform.
    • Locals to pledge and/or volunteer time and funds to help support a project.
    • Neighbors and other locals to come together and see a project through completion.
  • This service is a direct response to services like: Neighborland, Nextdoor and Litterati. These services serve to spark change in the community by creating a conversation about the current hurdles that an area is dealing with. However all of them fall short of actually improving the region. What will differentiate CommunityWorks from competitors is that it creates a definitive infrastructure for communities to follow to see their projects to completion. We take over where service like the ones mentioned leave off.
  • In search of neighborhood groups to work with to test drive the community works, I was put in touch with Lisa Lemus, whom leads the group called Friends of Wood Park  in Oakland, California. They’ve been revitalizing the nearby local park, W.D. Wood Park for the last four years. We talked about projects that might improve the park. Their main goal was to attract more locals to use the park as a method of repelling unwanted behavior and activities from the space. The idea of taking advantage of monarch migration was brought up, which lead to the idea of attracting the butterflies through the park to relax during their seasonal migration, as a sort of attraction. This became our project. The plan was to clear weeds, that have grown into trees, while leaving native plants intact, planting new, non threating species and flowers that monarchs tend to graze on. By reintroducing nature, such as plants and birds, into an urban environment, it changes the landscape causing locals to enjoy their neighborhoods more. Thus increasing and returning a sense of community and ownership.

  • Volunteer Event: Our day in Wood Park had arrived. Through the sharing of the project on the website and through the FB app online CommunityWorks was able to round up 11 new volunteers to assist with the butterfly habitat’s construction and managed to raise $110 towards the cause. There were 27 of us volunteers in total. Lisa and her associate Javier Alvarado broke us up into groups to accomplish different tasks. A small group of teenagers were in charge of clearing weeds, the older members of the group were in charge of breaking down cardboard boxes to be used as make shift weed cloth for each of the new plants followed by covering them with mulch, and myself and the rest of the new volunteers worked on constructing grow boxes.