2018-10-07No Comments

Designing Innovation: Teamwork, Prototypes and Feedback

Creating the Education Kitchen kit Prototype

This is when our team really shined. Laura, Mackenize, Maria and I went full-on to design a prototype for our presentation last week. Laura especially took ownership designing the look and feel of Education Kitchen. I helped to guide and tweak a few things with the type and colors but Laura really deserves praise for the visual design. Our Slack group chat blew up for hours and it was a great feeling.

The evolution of the Education Kitchen logo. Once Laura established a direction, I offered some suggestions to tweak the type choices and relationships between the script and sans serif. The last row became our final choice.

I think in terms of strengths, we complemented each other well and I appreciated how when it came to meeting deadlines and time to discuss direction, we showed up and we followed through. Forming these types of relationships is one of the great things about graduate study and immersive experiences; one I believe can be harder with online educational experiences.

Team "Food Fresh 4": Laura Miller, Me, Maria Aguilar Valez, and Mackenzie Miller

Mackenzie also went to town on building a more detailed scenario for our presentation. I love the combined imagery/collage type effect. She has a knack for building and making. 

For this phase, I suppose Maria and I took on supportive roles; making sure that our presentation had all the right elements; filling in where we were needed in terms of gathering , organizing and structuring content, checking spelling. plus making sure there was consistency in the language, content, design, presentation, among various other tasks.

All in all, we were at team in every sense of the word.

Effective functional and cross-functional teams do more than "divide and conquer" when confronting the never-ending queue; they harness that sparky, sometimes chaotic, energies of their members in a collaborative effort that we'll call "thought partnership". 

You can think of a thought partner as an intellectual complement—a collaborator who shares your goals but comes at problems from a different angle, with a different set of skills.

"Creative Teamwork", p. 146, Chapter 6,, About Face)

Maria, Mackenzie and Laura were my "thought partners" in every sense of the word. I feel fortunate and hope we'll work together on many more projects in the future. I will add that anyone who hires them in the future will reap rewards.

Kit Mockups and AR Prototype

Here is Education Kitchen and a few examples of items that would be included in the kit.

Education Kitchen Packaging Prototype

Initial Feedback

Overall, Education Kitchen was well-received. Ideally we would have been able to connect with at least one of our stakeholders to present and offer them a chance to give us feedback directly as well as use the AR app prototype. In the near future, we hope to accomplish this after implementing additional feedback we received.  

In addition to the previous suggestion to try BlippAR to create a working app, a suggestion to add illustrations to the recipe pages so that kids can also color those pages was offered. Perhaps while an adult in the house cooks, the kid can color. We received some nice compliments on the presentation and visual direction. Additional feedback included discussion about community gardens and how in underserved populations, land is at a premium with many most likely living in apartment complexes. This would shift the community garden to the schools but even then, land might not be available. Roger Horne spoke about this aspect and why he doesn’t see “community gardens” as a solution. Community gardens are not part of our solution but Clay’s point is a good one. Perhaps we need to include something about gardening in containers or hydroponics? A growing solution that doesn't require land.

There were also suggestions about having a dinner party where the food from the kids' community garden would be served … This is an idea we had as well but for development, raising funds to support non-profits or even schools; a way to bring the families, farmers, educators and officials together. 

More and more, this leads me to think our pitch or messaging needs to be more clear that we are not advocating for a community garden or that kids encourage their families to start a garden. Perhaps the inclusion of seeds automatically suggests this. I think of the seeds as more of a science experiment opportunity. 

On the tech side (AR), Clay spoke about “unlockable items” which triggered a memory that Lien also spoke about unlocking experiences. Perhaps we didn’t speak clearly enough about how the technology is a bonus layer. So, IF schools have access to wifi and a device that could support AR apps, then the students benefit from this feature. Still, he did encourage us to think about how the AR aspects could be more than nutrition information; something really special and I think this is where he was saying it could tie into a website layer as well; an opportunity to educate at a global scale from a local level. His ideas for a journal or “pen pal” concept was interesting and one to seriously consider moving forward.

Good feedback and more things to think about and re-process if we decide to move even further with this draft of a solution for the next iteration!

A small update to one of the recipe pages with an illustration to match the recipe.
Stylistically, this isn't a match but it was a good suggestion and we'll need to address this in future iterations.

Moving Forward

I would be keen on developing this concept further and some aspects I'd like to address in a future iteration include:

  • Understanding what visuals—color, typography, illustration style—and even paper feel would appeal to our target audience. While I love the current look and feel, it may not resonate with our core audience. I've made a mental note to remember that as designers we come with our own ideas and personal tastes that may not always align with others. More research definitely needs to be done.
  • Present our working prototype to Urban Greenworks and Urban Oasis to get their impressions.
  • Create a more detailed "map" of how a more personalized regional approach would work and what types of items would be included (e.g. Maine vs. Texas).
  • Think in more detail about postures for mobile devices. The prototype we created was for an iPhone. How different would the experience be on a tablet and on different operating systems? How would the experiences differ in the classroom versus outside the classroom? For example, if we created a prototype for a farmer who invites kids to the farm, how would the AR experience—assuming she/he has the tech resources—be different? 
  • Explore the idea of a website where people could archive into a journal or create postcards to send to other Education Kitchen explorers.
  • Understand AR technology more and further develop the narrative of its use and inclusion in the kit. This is where "understanding technology" (Don Norman) is truly critical. 

Adding more digital experiences would definitely require us to think more about addressing beginner users and experts plus get a better understanding of possible friction points. In fact, writing about this experience leads me to think we definitely would need to explore the AR app more closely from a user's point-of-view. I don't think we did enough analysis and testing.

Ah, lessons learned … I think it'll take a while longer to process everything. I'm sure in the next few days and weeks, I'll realize more we could do to refine and improve our first iteration. As a person who isn't used to slamming through my work, I'm adjusting. Still, the lessons and takeaways will definitely be applied in future projects for this class as well as others.

Timeline for prototype build and presentation: Less than a week.


This is Part 9 in a series documenting my learning experiences developing a solution to address food deserts, food security, health literacy, and health for populations. This project is part of our Designing Innovation course with Professor Lien Tran at the University of Miami, School of Communication. I am an IMFA (Interactive Media Master of Fine Arts) candidate.

2018-10-04No Comments

Designing Innovation: Concept Maps, Design Requirements and Proposed Solution

Concept Map: Connect the Dots

Design Concept Map
Our concept map showing how our different ideas are directly connected or at least related in some way; some have more than just one connection.

Based on our interviews with our stakeholders, our initial idea of a social media campaign came to a screeching halt once we realized the depth and breadth of the complexities even established non-profits and experienced public health professionals face in creating solutions for food security. 

Once I realized the scope of the complexity, I realized we couldn't simply design an app. While that may be the cool and current approach, not every solution requires a tech solution. This brings to mind the Center for Social Design at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) where designing with the community is emphasized and where designers are taught to focus on thinking and using whatever tools are available to create meaningful, positive solutions.

In fact, my interview with David, a public health professional based in Haiti, revealed his own attempt to release an app to address food deserts, while a graduate student in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, the app did not gain traction as there was little buy-in. 

There is a joke in Portland, Oregon and if you want a product to sell, just put a bird on it. I wonder if the majority of designers think we can just throw an app on X problem and it'll work magic. Hmm … The competition for attention is fierce. Thinking …

Proposed Solution: Education Kitchen Kit

Design solution
The Education Kitchen concept poster which came out of the Rose Thorn Bud exercise and our Statement Starters, a Luma Design method for Human-Centered Design practice.

Our scenarios in Part 7 were built around how our Education Kitchen kit would be used in each of our stakeholders’ daily lives and how it might help them realize their professional and perhaps personal goals.

Some of the items in the base kit would include:

An activity book (coloring most likely): This would include fun facts about various regional produce as well as recipes and information that would help students understand how food choices impact their (and their family's) health and well-being. The book would be printed with AR scanning technology as an enhanced learning experience IF a school, teacher or student had access to devices and wifi. The app itself would be free and native (versus a web app).

Seeds: There would be enough packets for a class and teachers could use them to design an experiment whether it would be to teach them how to start a plant and take care of it over the semester or a comparison of different growing conditions. This would be a great lesson option for science classes.

Posters (or other supplemental pieces): The idea behind the poster is to present a vegetable or fruit that is uncommon to a region or may not be popular or traveled across the world to get to grocery store shelves. It would also have an AR feature and could, in the case of well-traveled fruits and vegetables, show distance and other data that shows the impact of shipping and driving our food across the country and the world (e.g. how long does it take for a tomato to get from California to New York out of season?).

In my ideal world, our kit would be used around the U.S. and personalized so-to-speak depending on various growing zones and seasons to reflect a region's produce availability as well as the diversity of tastes and traditions. 

In the early stages of design, pretend the interface is magic.

About Face: The Essentials of Interface Design by Cooper

In our case, imagine the impossible. Did we limit ourselves?  

Design Requirements

Below are requirements and rationale for our proposed solution. This list is more realistic than designing something without limitations and both are good steps to move through. 

  • The solution shall address  in a sustained manner the problem of poor eating habits and food choice decisions.
  • The solution will be a carefully curated collection of relevant and updated information about health and food literacy based on trusted sources.
  • The solution shall be easily implemented into teachers’ curriculum and students from middle school. (11 to 13 years old)
  • The solution shall be easily implemented into students’ home life.
  • The solution shall work around complex policy level red tape by working directly with community stakeholders.
  • The solution shall be inclusive to address cultural and financial barriers to food security and “personalized” per region (U.S.) to address the diversity and differences in food availability, growing seasons, etc.
  • The solution shall include technology and non-technology features that engage teachers, students, families, farmers, and ideally the community as a whole.
  • The solution shall include non-technology features as activity books for students to take home, recipes, seed with a guide and fun facts about food.
  • The non-technology aspect speaks to the fact that internet access and devices may not be available.
  • The non-technology feature (activity book) shall support lifelong learning and skills to promote good health.
  • The solution shall include a technology feature as an optional complementary item for the activity book; an enhanced learning “bonus”.
  • The technology feature shall be a native app that runs on both mobile and tablet devices. (iOS and Android)
  • The technology feature shall include AR functionality to scan images of fruit and vegetable images and illustrations which will unlock additional content such as: 
    • Enlarged images of the fruit/vegetable
    • Fun facts about the fruit/vegetable
    • Nutritional information of the fruit/vegetable
    • Fruit/vegetable anatomy
    • Short Q&A with a farmer / grower
  • The solution shall include different subscription price options for schools, parents, students and farmers.
  • The solution will be affordable to encourage stakeholders to invest and itemize as part of their overall budgets.
  • The solution’s overall brand and marketing shall be appealing to resonate with stakeholders and communities.

Feedback: More Explicit Scenarios

Toward the latter part of class last week, Professor Tran provided us with some feedback regarding our presentation and scenarios. It was a good exercise to present them and be able to "think out loud" when faced with questions about specifics such as:

  • What age are the students?
  • What if people don't have wifi?
  • Is the AR app native or does it require internet connectivity?
  • How does your solution being people/communities together in real time?

While our three scenarios gave a good overall picture of how a person or people would use our solution, our takeaway was that we needed to be more specific about details. Looking back perhaps they were too similar and perhaps too generalized?

Understand Technology

In Don Norman's book, The Design of Everyday Things he states that good design encompasses the following three guidelines (Ch 1, pg. 8):

  • Understand psychology (people and behavior)
  • Understand technology (tools and materials)
  • Good communication (meaningful information)

In this case, not many of us are versed in Augmented Reality (AR) so this was something we had to research albeit with no time to fully digest or understand the possibilities. Understanding AR is clearly a technology I personally would like to learn more about in order to design experiences for other people. It seems obvious, doesn't it? Sure, I've had some experience as a user of AR apps paired with printed materials but understanding how AR experiences are created and what factors to consider is out of my wheelhouse — for now.

Screengrab from Quiver's homepage.

A couple of apps and services did help to shed some light on what might be possible for our solution: Quiver and Layar. Professor Tran also recommended looking into BlippAR which has the BlippBuilder. I'm hopeful we'll have time to dive into it to explore and create at least a rough concept that would communicate more accurately the experience we are planning than a prototype using Sketch. For now though, Sketch will have to do as I got the sense our combined experience in AR and coding is quite limited. (I'm beginning to feel the pain and frustration of not being able to make my designs and ideas come to life but that's another post and really, one of the big reasons I'm back in grad school.)

All in all, I'm proud of our group, how we processed information, tossed around ideas, and how we came to our current Education Kitchen kit solution. 

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This is Part 8 in a series documenting my learning experiences developing a solution to address food deserts, food security, health literacy, and health for populations. This project is part of our Designing Innovation course with Professor Lien Tran at the University of Miami, School of Communication. I am an IMFA (Interactive Media Master of Fine Arts) candidate.

2018-09-24No Comments

Designing Innovation: Rose, Thorn, Bud and What if …?

In an effort to gain greater understanding of our stakeholders, the barriers affecting populations who lack food security and how these intersect with the many ideas our team has put forward, we did an exercise in class last week from Luma Institute’s, Innovating for People: Handbook of Human Centered Design Methods called Rose, Thorn, Bud. According to Luma, it is a process adapted from the Boy Scouts of America [1].

The exercise is best executed in person with a team using different colored post-it notes as a key. It helps to have the key visible from every part of the room especially if there is more than one group moving through the exercise.

Red = ROSE  = Positive
Blue = THORN = Negative
Green (or yellow) = BUD = Promising

Rose Thorn Bud Example

Image capture from the book, "Innovating for People: Handbook of Human-Centered Design Methods" by the Luma Institute

Design Precedents

Prior to our class, our team did some research to audit and review design precedents that could inform our decisions as we narrow down our concepts and solutions.

A few precedents stood out for us:

Food subscription kits and delivery services:

  • Thrive Market
  • Hello Fresh
  • Blue Apron
  • Gousto (UK)
  • Plated

Fetch Rewards App

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https://www.fetchrewards.com/

Augmented Reality Apps

Arloon Plants

Kabaq

Based on these design precedents, we decided to take those ideas through the Rose, Thorn, Bud method based on our interviews, research, and personas. Below is our exploration for Apps, Rewards App, Meal Subscription Kits, and a print campaign.

What if … ?

Professor Tran came by while we were exploring the rewards idea and as the conversation continued, the ideas started to merge together. We started to ask ourselves questions … “What if … ”

Our big “What if …” included merging the kit with the app idea modified to accommodate the fact that smartphones are most likely not common in underserved areas. Even then we asked ourselves, “What if we considered the evolution or progression of technology into the home?” Meaning, what if, at some point, technology entered the home. Could our idea, our solution, address interaction over time?

Meeting! Google Hangout

The RBT exercise gave us a bit more direction so I decided to get some thoughts out of my head and on paper.

I shipped this off to my team mates and we scheduled a meeting to figure out next steps.

We knew we wanted to focus on health literacy but given the depth and breadth of the problem, how do we narrow it down? We knew students and teachers (schools) would be our core audience.

Storyboards

We came up with three storyboards based on our three personas:

  • Teacher
  • Student
  • Urban Farmer

1. Anna, an urban farmer, gives a group of students a tour of her urban farm and shares with them all the different types of food she grows plus fun facts about how food gets to the store.

2. Inside her barn, Anna teaches the kids about food choices and how these foods help different parts of the body.

3. After, Anna offers students a taste test of the produce she grows, giving them a sense of all the different types of food that can be made with produce.

4. Anna gives their teacher an Education Kitchen kit (our working title). This version has an activity book, seeds, mini planters, recipes. She informs the teacher that there is an interactive layer to the activity book for use with a smartphone. As a bonus, Anna gives the teacher a basket of various foods.

5. The next day, the teacher gives her students a chance to plant the seeds from the Education Kitchen kit Anna gave her. They get dirty, plant seeds, and the teacher tells them one day they will take them home.

6. The students who are most excited about what they have learned share with their parents about planting seeds and give them recipe cards from the Education Kit asking them to cook together and passes along what they learned about healthy eating and food choices.

These storyboards are helping us gain more clarity about how people would use our kit which we have temporarily named, “Education Kitchen”.

We’ll see where this takes us …

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This is Part 7 in a series documenting my learning experiences developing a solution to address food deserts, food security, health literacy, and health for populations. This project is part of our Designing Innovation course with Professor Lien Tran at the University of Miami, School of Communication. I am an IMFA (Interactive Media Master of Fine Arts) candidate.

2018-09-16No Comments

Designing Innovation: Empathy Maps and Personas

Modeling

Modeling is a great way to bridge the information and observations you discover while speaking with the people you are designing for but also with. The people we interviewed continue to invest a lot of time and energy and inevitably have different experiences, opinions, and suggestions for how to move forward and what solutions they think and feel would be or work best.

Personas can help designers to understand how our stakeholders are connected; where their interests and goals intersect. They can also help designers and other team members get on the same page. It is a form of documentation and exercise that encourages agreement as well as a foundation for future design decisions. I think of it as a way to minimize the "I like this" (personal opinion) layer to discussion and feedback that always goes back to the people who would be affected by any design solution. It helps to build consensus, effectiveness, and direction for others who are not directly involved in the design process but are closely related to its outcome.

So, last week we ended class last week split into our teams and engaged in creating empathy maps. Our team decided to stay a bit longer and finish up in real time, taking advantage of the whiteboards available to us.

What is an empathy map?

It is a method or tool to help designers spend some time in another person's shoes; to literally empathize with what a person is feeling, thinking, seeing, doing, and even understanding their motivations and goals. They can help create the foundation of personas, an expressive user model that are ideally based in sound research. Personas shape the narratives around a potential design solution and help designers be more specific about audience — the individuals using and interacting with a physical, digital prodct or service.

Empathy maps and personas can also help focus and shape conversations, ease communication and build ideas internally between various team members and departments. It also helps designers from naval gazing and designing for designers.

For this project, we were tasked with creating at least three empathy maps and three personas given the size of our team.

Personas

Based on our interviews and research, we determined that we would start with a student, a teacher, and an urban farmer. I volunteered to create one of them.

 

persona urban farmer

An "ad-hoc" persona of Anna, an urban farmer.

Anna is based on our interviews with people from Urban Oasis, Urban GreenWorks, and public health professional with experience in community health, planning and development, among others. She is the type of person who energizes with her passion and commitment to helping underserved communities.

Combined with the student and teacher personas in addition to more interviews and research, we are feeling a bit more confident and clear about a direction. Figuring out a solution still feels like an we're swimming in the Atlantic but perhaps now, we see a bit of land.

Persona, Patrick, an English Professor

Persona, Anna, a 12-year-old student


This is Part 6 in a series documenting my learning experiences developing a solution to address food deserts, food security, health literacy, and health for populations. This project is part of our Designing Innovation course with Professor Lien Tran at the University of Miami, School of Communication. I am an IMFA (Interactive Media Master of Fine Arts) candidate.

2018-09-09No Comments

Designing Innovation: Stakeholder Interviews & Summaries

“Design is a conversation with materials.”

I love that quote by Donald Schön, highlighted in our book, About Face.

I’ve done interviews in the past and I’ll be the first to admit that I get nervous every time. Not the kind of nervous I get when I’m speaking to a large audience or even the nervous feeling I get before teaching that first week but still nerbous. No matter how many times I’ve done it, it still happens.

Perhaps because I feel pressure to ask the right questions; to be present and listen carefully; to pick up on clues; to be compassionate … I think because the people you interview are being extremely generous with their time and more importantly their stories and lives. There is a vulnerability to being interviewed.

But I digress.

Our interviews for this first project went well. Art, Roger and Jeannie were welcoming, kind and clearly passionate about what they do. We gathered a load of intel about food deserts, nutrition, farming, policy, perceptions, challenges, and most of all, information that caused us to think about our own biases and assumptions.

Below are summaries of our interviews with Urban Oasis Project and Urban Greenworks.

Urban Oasis Project

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was surprised to learn that the term “food desert” is frowned upon by some people who work with underserved communities unless they are speaking with policymakers or writing grants. In fact, the term, “food desert” further stigmatizes the people living in underserved communities. (There’s a psychological term for this but I can’t recall at the moment.)

The efforts they have made to help those using SNAP with EBT cards at farmers’ markets is quite an accomplishment. We also discovered that there are not a lot of farms in the Miami area. Land prices and development pressures are too high to entice young farmers to produce. Art emphasized how knowledge and skills about growing food or to scale up to be a farmer is missing. There are groups that have farm incubator programs but most agriculture schools/education don’t focus on practical skills. (Jeannie refers to the knowledge and skills as part of the Spectrum of Prevention Toolkit).

Behavior change is difficult which requires a cultural shift; proximity to grocery stores isn’t always the solution. Cultural barriers exist. Further, interventions need “buy-in” and that can only come with trust. (Designing WITH a community versus designing for a community). There is an incredible disconnect between people and food. We’ve lost touch with where and how our food is produced; take so much of it for granted (Roger hit on this as well, below).

Technology is supposed to enhance and improve our lives. We should not [be living] in a country without access to healthy food.

I would like to follow-up with Jeannie since she had some interesting things to say about health literacy; that health literacy is critical to helping people within communities understand why eating healthy, fresh food is important. She shared how campaigns don’t work with most communities mainly due to the language used (“infant mortality” vs “infant deaths”). Similar to how web page content reaches the most people when written to, I believe, a middle-school level, any intervention must use words that most people understand. Compounding this are the cultural and social differences within each community. “People don’t understand what they are being told.”

Note: I followed up with Jeannie today (9/9/18).

She shared a bit of history of SNAP and mentioned how important it is to keep an eye on what is shaping up at the USDA (she lost her last job due to funding being cut off). She shared with me the “Spectrum of Prevention”, a toolkit for public health practice that works from the bottom up to creating more lasting change. The steps are as follows:

  • Strengthen individuals with knowledge and skills (education)
  • Work with providers to create nudges (e.g. stickers on vending machines that say, “make sure to check the calories”)
  • Foster coalitions and networking
  • Change policy and legislation to backup interventions and goals

She is skeptical about the effectiveness of social media but is open to investigating more. Her main question: For organizations such as the Mayo Clinic, are the 1+ million followers legit? Who are they? She’d like to know and understand their demographics. Her main priority is literacy. What language to use to best communicate health and wellness? For her, much of change is in education; communicating in a way people understand.

Organizational coalitions are full of politics and agendas; sometimes hidden but persistence can pay off albeit very slowly. (Roger talks about breaking down silos and how organizations need to change how and what they do …). There are lots of personalities, efforts to claim credit and even more so today, limited funding. (Art also spoke about how many applications for grants have skyrocketed due to changes at the Federal level.)

Urban GreenWorks

Speaking with Roger is energizing and enlightening. We hope to follow-up with him as well. His view about “food deserts” is holistic; similar to how a naturopathic doctor or an integrative health practitioner looks at the whole person and not just the disease. He emphasized how important it is to design with the community; not just come up with ideas, gather people at a town hall and get feedback in an hour (this is how policy that affects people gets implemented). Establishing trust is mission critical to the success of any intervention. He also mentioned how the youth are critical to change. According to him, they are the change agents of any community.

There are many “problems” but funding is problematic in many ways. Apparently, there are “favorites” rather than need-based. Also, giving stuff (a.k.a. “entitlement”) such as backpacks, is also a problem. Farmer’s markets, he says, are “both the solution and the problem”. Evidently, a farmer’s market is a signal that gentrification is coming, which can demoralize a community.

It was interesting to note his example of a European model that is working: Foodscaping, where communities come together and decide which each person in the community is going to grow and then they share throughout the season. It is a “big farm” in the neighborhood. Everyone is invested and has an appreciation for farming. This is missing in the U.S. or rather, not popular. Again, it seems a disconnect between how food is grown and gets onto the shelf.

First-generation Farmer Upstate New York

David is a first-generation, small farmer based in Upstate New York. He admits he is not an expert on food deserts but took this interview as an opportunity to take a step back and think about food systems. His shares similar views to those of others we interviewed about health disparities; that because people lack access to fresh and healthy foods, there is a loss of traditions but also understanding of where our food comes from.

His view on farmer’s markets is an interesting contrast to others but his answers were more brief. There seems to be a disconnect compared to others we interviewed that farmer’s markets could simply be set up in food deserts, but this could be because he didn’t get into great detail.

An interesting idea that he offered was how offering precise instructions and exact quantities of food (Blue Apron does this) could help resolve the disconnect and cultural barriers surrounding food (e.g. unfamiliar produce). He also mentioned a food demonstration kitchen that runs in my hometown at the market downtown.

Interviews: Our Findings (so far …)

  • The youth in underserved populations are most willing to participate and be the change agents within their communities.
  • Design interventions must be created WITH the community. It is mission critical to the long-term viability of any solution. For example, starting a farmer’s market in a community without the support and trust of the people in the community will never take off or succeed.
  • “Food desert” leaves a bad taste and further discriminates.
  • Ideally, organizations who help these communities collaborate to address larger goals other than their individual missions.
  • Health literacy is a core issue
  • A holistic approach and view is critical to change; interventions in isolation are not effective.
  • People and communities in the U.S. (and a growing number of places worldwide) are sorely out of touch with how food is produced, where it comes from and how it gets to shelves. Cooking with fresh foods seems to be a skill that needs to be taught again.

 

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This is Part 5 in a series documenting my learning experiences developing a solution to address food deserts, food security, health literacy, and health for populations. This project is part of our Designing Innovation course with Professor Lien Tran at the University of Miami, School of Communication. I am an IMFA (Interactive Media Master of Fine Arts) candidate. 

2018-09-09No Comments

Designing Innovation: Interviews at Legion Park

Photo Collage Legion Park Farmer's Market

Clockwise: Roger Horne, Urban Greenworks; Fresh Food 4 design team, Urban Oasis Project

Interviews at Legion Park Farmer’s market

Today our team took a short road trip to Legion Park to meet Art Friedrich and Jeannie Necessary with Urban Oasis Project and with Roger Horne of Urban Greenworks.

I felt it was a great success. We first interviewed Art and Jeannie chimed in once so, I made a note to follow-up with her because she had some interesting things to say about health literacy and how campaigns really don't work.

Art’s interview was revealing in that perhaps the term “food desert” isn’t the best term to use especially when talking with people who live in communities designated as such. He mentioned that it may further discrimminate. That brought to mind a term I read about while visiting the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Museum earlier this year. I’m still searching for the photo I made but if memory serves, it had to do with how labels can make a person start to believe they don’t deserve x, y, or z.

Roger Horne is quite a force. When he launched with how he approaches food security with a more holistic mindset, that resonated with me. Why? Because I don’t believe in things — good or bad — occurring in isolation. There are reasons why and it is important to understand them; including human behavior.

My teammate, Mackenzie was kind enough to offer transcription of the interviews so as soon as those are ready my next step is to read, synthesize, and ideally translate into a better understanding of the problem we are trying to solve.

This is Part 4 in a series documenting my learning experiences developing a solution to address food deserts, food security, health literacy, and health for populations. This project is part of our Designing Innovation course with Professor Lien Tran at the University of Miami, School of Communication. I am an IMFA (Interactive Media Master of Fine Arts) candidate. 

2018-09-05No Comments

Designing Innovation: Stakeholder Mapping, Interviews & Project Planning

Identify Stakeholders

Our team started to map out our initial list stakeholders and came up with an initial brainstorm or “map” of people we believe would have a vested interest in any solution that addressing food security.

whiteboard mappingSince that meeting, we met via Google Hangouts to identify more people to interview and determine what questions to ask. We also decided to create a group of questions that we would ask each person; something that might reveal some insight we wouldn’t be able to capture by asking different questions to each person.

Individually, we did our own research and discovered some surprising people to interview, including a Top Chef and a roommate who lived in a food desert.

Here we created a “working” list of people we would love to interview (below) and we expanded on the stakeholder list as we learned more about the larger community.

After creating a working list of people to interview, we created another draft of questions to ask our interviewees. We also agreed to ask our interviewees a small number of the same questions to identify and determine if there are any patterns or contradictions. These are the questions (subject to change):

  • What is your definition of a food desert?
  • How can social media and technology play a larger role in raising awareness of food deserts?
  • What kind of cultural barriers exist to addressing food deserts?
  • Please tell me about how food access impacts one’s health?
  • What do you think is missing to help address food deserts?
  • How does your work help to address the food desert issue?
  • Who or what organizations are successful in addressing food deserts? How are they accomplishing it?
  • What is the biggest change that you would like to see within your community, in order to help eliminate food deserts?

Since we have four people in our group and tasked with interviewing 3 each, we also opted to ask questions specific to each person:

For the pediatrician:

  • Do you have patients who live in food deserts?
  • What common diseases do they have? Are these diseases directly related to unhealthy diet? Does other family member suffer from the same diseases as children?
  • Who are the main source of health education (parents, school, friends)? How would you help your patients to engage in health education?

For the registered dietitian:

  • How does the diet of someone live in a food desert affect their overall well-being and health?
  • What are the factors that contribute to dietary behavior at a household or ‘family’ level?
  • How would you help someone change their lifestyle habits who has lived in a food desert?

For school administrators:

  • How many students are affected by food deserts within your school?
  • How does being located within a food desert affect students? Does it affect their learning/focus or health/attendance within the classroom setting?
  • What is the school’s outreach for those families that are affected by lack of access to healthy food?

For parents:

  • What are the biggest challenges of living within a food desert?
  • Tell me about where you buy fruits and vegetables. How far do you travel and how long does it take you? (Follow up: Why? Or I’d love to hear more about your transportation.)
  • Are there programs or Urban Gardens that you may participate in? What is the community outreach for living within a food desert?
  • What kind of fresh foods do you try to incorporate into your daily routine that are more nutritious, if any? How do you get access to those foods?
  • What is the biggest change within your community that you would like to see in order to help eliminate food deserts?

For a student: (If possible)

  • Do you provide your own meals for school? “Pack a lunch? Or eat at school?” Why?
  • What kind of meals are you provided with?
  • What kind of education is being provided on food, health and nutrition?
  • Are there programs or Urban Gardens that you may participate in? Would you be interested in being a part of an Urban Garden within your community of school?

For chefs Jeremy Ford and Michelle Bernstein:

  • What inspired you to join the #DrinkGoodDoGood social media campaign?
  • How can restaurants play an active role in raising awareness of food deserts?

For friend who lived in a food desert:

  • What was done to improve the situation while you lived there?
  • If you wanted fresh groceries, how did you go about getting them?
  • Did you know you were moving to a food desert?

For holistic health practitioner:

  • Do you have patients who live in food deserts?
  • How does the diet of someone live in a food desert affect their overall well-being and health?
  • How would you help someone change their lifestyle habits who has lived in a food desert?

For Health in the Hood:

  • What makes your program unique from other food desert outreach efforts?
  • How has your program affected the food desert population? Did raising awareness about food deserts lead to other benefits as well?
  • How were the head gardeners selected?

For Urban Oasis Project:

  • Describe your long-term vision for Urban Oasis.
  • What motivated you to start Urban Oasis?
  • What makes the Urban Oasis Project different from other food desert organizations?
  • Tell me about some of your most successful campaigns. Why?
  • Tell me about a failure. What did you learn?
  • What barriers do people face to access healthy foods? (transportation is a big hurdle)
  • What challenges do you believe face food desert communities in the near future?
  • I’d like to hear more about your Urban Farmer Incubator Program.

For a food systems specialist:

  • Tell me about your job as a Food Systems Specialist
  • What are the challenges for underserved communities at the policy level?
  • Tell me about SNAP and how it can help?
  • What programs—outreach initiatives, education, etc.— are doing well and what more would you like to see? (around the state, the country, the world.
  • What non-U.S. solutions are working in the world?
  • What challenges do farmers and organization who wish to help underserved communities face?
  • What are some of the psychosocial factors that may prevent people from going to a farmer’s market, a new grocery store, etc. in their neighborhoods?

For a local Farmer and activist:

  • What motivated you to start an urban farm and garden as well as all of your other initiatives?
  • Tell me about farmers’ markets in general.
  • Tell me about any challenges or barriers Urban Greenworks has faced in bringing community gardening, education and other health initiatives to people?
  • How can schools be an access point for change?
  • What more needs to happen at the policy level to help address food and health in underserved neighborhoods?
  • What challenges do you (or farmers and gardeners) face in growing and feeding your communities?
  • What do you believe is most misunderstood about food deserts?
  • How does geography impact food access?
  • Which aspects of the local food environment (e.g., availability, price, convenience) are most relevant to health

For a small farmer (New York state):

  • In what ways does food access impact one’s health and/or the health of a community?
  • Who or what organizations are successful in addressing food deserts? How are they accomplishing it?
  • Tell me about what motivated you to be a farmer and in what ways farmers can help contribute to the solution of providing healthy food to people who lack access?
  • What would be the challenges/barriers as a farmer in contributing to the solution?
  • What benefits might you see?
  • Please tell me about your thoughts about farmer’s markets and their relationship to food deserts.

For a public health professional:

  • What are some successful efforts to address the food desert issue?
  • Please tell me about policy and how it is affecting the disparity in diet and overall health.
  • What community relationships do you see would work best to help address public health? (Schools + local farmers? Food trucks + Doctors?)
  • What kind of solution would help to address food choices?
  • In addition to transportation and prices, what other barriers exist to access healthy food?

Note: We also decided that whatever solution takes shape, that we would want the intervention to be adaptable and usable in other states and cities; not just Florida. This is why we opened up the list of people to interview nationally.

Field trip! Legion Park Farmer’s Market this Saturday.

This weekend, we will be heading to Legion Park Farmer’s Market as a group to meet up with two people from the Urban Oasis Project — Art Friedlich, President of Urban Oasis Project and Jeannie Necessary, Board President and Food Systems Specialist. We may also meet Roger Horne, co-founder of Urban Greenworks and Cerasee Farm.

This is Part 3 in a series documenting my learning experiences developing a solution to address food deserts, food security, health literacy, and health for populations. This project is part of our Designing Innovation course with Professor Lien Tran at the University of Miami, School of Communication. I am an IMFA (Interactive Media Master of Fine Arts) candidate. 

2018-09-01No Comments

Designing Innovation: Affinity Clustering and Teams

Identify and focus on a problem

This week, we spent some time in class mapping the multitude of problems and pain points within healthcare and the health and wellness of people/communities.

This process is known as affinity clustering; a way of sorting items based on similarity. It minimizes the overwhelm of big ideas, problems or when writing an important paper. This process also helps to identify themes and patterns. It is a wonderful group exercise.

Create Teams Around Health & Wellness

(Honestly, I could not have planned this any better as every topic was an interest. In fact, I had met with Maria just a week earlier to brainstorm ideas for a project. Education and health related problems were at the top of our list.)

I learned about food deserts while studying clinical nutrition at the Maryland University for Integrative Health in a class that gave us an overview of how food and politics in communities. It was eye-opening and infuriating; a definite wicked problem and one I wanted to investigate further now and perhaps in the future. I suppose it was in learning about the social determinants of health that planted the idea that I was meant to stay in design but shift the space in which I worked. Perhaps.

Reviewing and refining our work.

Thankfully, in addition to Maria, two other classmates — Mackenzie and Laura — were also interested in tackling this problem! I’m eager to work with them.

This is Part 2 in a series documenting my learning experiences developing a solution to address food deserts, food security, health literacy, and health for populations. This project is part of our Designing Innovation course with Professor Lien Tran at the University of Miami, School of Communication. I am an IMFA (Interactive Media Master of Fine Arts) candidate. 

2018-08-25No Comments

Designing Innovation: Designing the Anti “Social” Network”

Today was my first class in the IMFA (Interactive Master of Fine Arts) program.

Designing Innovation is being taught by Professor Lien Tran and we were presented with a design brief titled, Designing the Anti “Social” Network. This will be our first project.

Project Objective

We currently live in an era in which we spend more time connecting via technology, social media, and social networks and more time physically away from each other than with each other. One might say that technology and social networks has made us artificially or superficially connected to each other rather than allowing us to genuinely connect as an authentic community or to develop authentic relationships with people. Ironically, technology and social platforms in general have made us more antisocial. Youth are more comfortable communicating via apps than they are talking to someone IRL (in real life).

Assuming the role of a designer, your objective for this assignment is work in small teams to research and analyze existing “social” networks and related products/features and to propose the design of a new system (or new feature to an existing system) to:

  • enhance an existing community;
  • enhance social interactions;
  • create a new community; and/or
  • enhance “how people weave together within communities and wider society as a whole” (CHI 2019 SDC)

First Exercise: Identities and Communities

How we as a class identify ourselves.

This exercise was incredibly fun and a first step in the process of defining a problem to address for our first project. While we learned about each other and our interests (I’m among kindred spirits!), we also learned how we identify ourselves but also how others might self-identify and in the broader sense, how we belong to communities within communities within communities and so on. It’s a fascinating way to look at how we relate to each other and the world in which we live.

The communities to which we belong

Problems we want to solve or pain points we experience.

 

This is Part 1 in a series documenting my learning experiences developing a solution to address food deserts, food security, health literacy, and health for populations. This project is part of our Designing Innovation course with Professor Lien Tran at the University of Miami, School of Communication. I am an IMFA (Interactive Media Master of Fine Arts) candidate. 

Graduating in May 2020. Seeking new, full-time adventures in the Pacific Northwest.

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