Kristina Rakestraw
Kristina Rakestraw
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Draft of Seedspace | a tool to garden in the city

Seedspace is a platform that connects communities through green spaces.

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Seedspace | a tool to garden in the city

 

TIMELINE
Fall 2017
10 weeks  

TYPE
MHCI+D ideation course at UW   

TEAM
 Suwei Yang
Duminda Aluthgamage

PROJECT FOCUS
Ideation
 

MY CONTRIBUTION
Interaction Design
Visual Design
Illustrations
Project Leadership

 

The Problem

 

In a city, there are people who have access to land, and people who don't. Oftentimes the people who have access to land don't take advantage of this opportunity, so there's this gap. 

 
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The Solution  

 
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Seedspace is a garden share application that connects city dwellers to green spaces to rent, host and search for gardens. Think AirBNB — but for gardens. 

 
 
 

Key Features

 

Search
Search for a garden

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Tend
Garden

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Host
Manage a garden

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Focus

 
Ideation

The focus of this project was on ideation. While there was a research component, it was extremely short, and the focus was on drawing and generating ideas using various ideation methods.

 
 

Research

 
 

Our Approach

 

We initially discussed the role that food waste plays on our environment and looked into behaviors around food consumption and waste. Through further research, we became curious about how we might use technology to focus back to the land, to reconnect with nature, and to build a grassroots community around food.

Literature review allowed us to build a working knowledge of behaviors around food waste, food dignity, sharing culture, participation, and play.  We were initially inspired by FarmBot, MIT Food Camera, AirBnB, and Headspace because they not only empowered people were infused with a sense of play, either conceptually or through visual language.  

 
 

Opportunity

 

Community gardens, often referred to as P-patches, are a common trend in some cities. For example, the City of Seattle organizes P-Patches in several neighborhoods. This provides a select group of neighbors with access to a small plot within a shared garden. Despite the benefit they provide, they are few and far in between. The wait time to be part of these P-patches is upwards of 2 years, which is a major barrier that keeps people, without land, from opportunities to garden in urban areas.  

 
 
 Seattle, WA

Seattle, WA

 
 

Concepts 

 
 

Initial Concepts

 

We generated thirty initial ideas and then discussed them based on the feasibility, desirability, and viability of the ideas. We used six thinking hats to drive discussion and look for the strengths and weaknesses of our ideas.  

 
 
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Storyboards

 

We crafted stories in order to ground these ideas in context and flesh out the high level thinking. In doing so, we were able to humanize our ideas and consider the broader interactions that would need to incorporated. Below is a storyboard I made that most closely aligns with our final design solution.

 
 
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Observation Activity

 
 

To build empathy and a better understanding of how people engage in smart cities, we performed a design research activity in public spaces around Seattle.   

 
 

Setup: We set up a chalkboard at various locations throughout the city - a light rail station, a bus stop, a park and on a sidewalk. Our prototype consisted on a chalkboard, a stand, chalk, and activity prompts.

Goal: To gain insight into how different contexts affect the willingness to participate in playful activities and to look for patterns in behavior.

 
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People are more likely to take part when they see others participate first

 
 
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People are more motivated to take part in playful activities

 

Prototyping

 

Paper Prototypes

We tested our concept with five participants using paper prototypes and Think Aloud protocol. Our goal was to better understand if the concept of a gardening community fits into current lifestyles and behaviors of city dwellers.   

 
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After analyzing and synthesizing the experiences engaged through our paper prototype testing, we were able to better define user needs and goals. Based on the feedback we received paired with research, we moved forward into wireframing.

Takeaways

  •  The concept of renting gardens makes sense in an urban environment
  • Starting a system from scratch poses trust issues
  • Users want detailed control over the search function
 

Semi-Structured Interviews

 
  • Does this concept make sense to you?
  • What do you think it means to be connected to your food?
  • Do you grow your own food?
  • What are the benefits of being able to grow your own food?
  • Would you and do you participate in a sharing culture around food?
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Visual Language 

 
 
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Results

 
 
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Search
Search for a nearby garden, and apply for a plot to garden. 

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Manage
Schedule a visit to let others know, or plan a co-garden session with your neighbors. 

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Communicate
Ask questions, express concerns, or share your garden knowledge with others. 

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Post
Create a garden post to offer space for your neighbors to garden. 

 

Reflection

 
 

Clarity

 

This is not a product intended to be launched tomorrow, but merely a concept about how technology can be used in a grassroots approach to building community in a smart city.

 
 

Challenges

 

I learned that building trust in new systems can feel invasive to some people. Even though the concept dealt with the exterior realm of an individual’s life, the same issues surfaced that can be found in more interior fronts such as renting a stranger’s room or entering into an unfamiliar car.

 
 

Opportunities

 

Seeds of Knowledge. Our vision was to create an educational component about gardening and the environment, to include individuals who might not participate in actual gardening.

Offer Food Experience. Allow users to host food experiences, such as cooking lessons, tasting, or community dinners to reach a wider audience.  

Garden for Pay. Address the scenario of someone wanting local produce, but not wanting to garden themselves by opening up the possibility of paying for gardening services.