Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

A Visit from Transportation Alternatives

November 22nd, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Programming, Teaching

Last week we were so excited to welcome Julia de Martini Day from Transportation Alternatives! We’ve been working with Julia over the past few months to develop a lesson that would be meaningful to our class of students. We wanted to structure the lesson to include many of the skills we’ve used so far: things like sketching, brainstorming, problem and solution definition, and refinement and presentation. That sounds like a lot of stuff to cram into one lesson, but our students are getting used to quickly thinking through ideas!

Julia began the lesson with a presentation about safe streets and what it means to engage in healthy living in an urban area. It was really interesting to see where each student stood in our “human barometer” test at the beginning. Most were in the middle between agreeing and disagreeing with the statement, “The best way to stay healthy is to walk and bike around my neighborhood.”

Human Barometer

Julia did a wonderful job explaining the mission and goals of Transportation Alternatives to our students. She put activism in terms that were easy for them to understand, like describing protests: “Sometimes the people in charge don’t listen to us, so we get a lot of people together who can talk really loudly together!”

For the rest of class, we all looked at the intersection of Jay St. and Tillary St. near the students’ school. Many of them cross this dangerous intersection each morning to get to school. When Julia asked them to sit down and talk about the problems with the intersection they had no trouble coming up with a ton of ideas.

Group Work

After each group defined a set of problems, they focused on one problem that they could attempt to solve. We asked them to come up with a quick solution and sketch it, either on the map we provided them, or on a separate sheet of paper.

At the end of class, each group presented their ideas. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of overlap in the problems each group defined. It was really exciting for us to see how thorough they were in their definition of the problems in the space.

Presenting projects

Problems/Solutions

Our Reflection

This was a tough week for us in class. Carmen and I are feeling the strains of our own course load increasing near the end of the semester, while also working with students who are feeling the pressures of their semesters coming to a climax. And, as much as we valued the lesson from Transportation Alternatives, it occurred to us after class that teenagers may have trouble grasping the value of the message “don’t drive, use alternatives instead.” They’re right at the age where they are dying to get a car and drive, and the idea of voluntarily not having one may have been lost on them!

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Some Other Exciting Work!

July 28th, 2010 by Katie & Carmen | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations

I came across a few groups today that are doing great work in the field of design, community action and education.

DESIGN21

DESIGN 21: Social Design Network’s mission is to inspire social activism through design. They connect people who want to explore ways design can positively impact our many worlds, and who want to create change here, now.

Renegade Pencils

Three guys. One ambulance. 8,000 miles.
Raising money to build three schools where they’re needed most, and empowering kids with the knowledge that creativity can solve anything.

R3

R3 is a collaborative effort to promote sustainable design. Their approach focuses not only on redesigning better things, but on better experiences. (Tom and his group are working with students at Academy of Art University.)

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Small Changes In My Own Community

July 20th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Business, Design, Inspirations

In PSFK’s Future of Retail Report there are a ton of brilliant and innovative examples of ways that social networks and new technology are impacting our shopping and purchasing behaviors. PSFK is a New York based company, so naturally many of their examples were from our own backyard.

The one that stood out to me was Kickstand, a mobile coffee stand in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Their website states:

Kickstand is committed to providing the best possible cup of coffee to community events in NYC with the smallest environmental impact possible. We achieve this goal by using bikes not only for all of our transportation needs, but also for a portion of the power we use in brewing the coffee we serve. At Kickstand getting people outdoors and bringing them together over coffee is our primary goal.

There are two nuggets of messaging that stand out in their mission and relate to some of Project: Interaction’s goals: emphasis on sustainability and the notion of bringing people together. Their motivation isn’t necessarily to brew and sell coffee. If we look at it another way, these coffee entrepreneurs are fulfilling the needs of Saturday morning Williamsburgers, who are thirsty, caffeine-deprived, environmentally conscious, or just in need of a good, casual conversation.

Their cart promotes the creation of social interactions between residents in their community while taking environmental impact into consideration. By focusing on the concerns of their community they’re able to create a more meaningful experience for their customers.

I can’t wait to get to McCarren Park to meet these guys!

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