• Table Talk: A community-driven tool to address complex social challenges

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    By Jordanna Coutinho

    NOTE: This post explores the design output of SCAD’s Sustainable Practices class referenced in the two previous blogs. The tool convenes multi-stakeholder groups in order to address impacts of industrial pollution on EJ communities. It does this by placing these partners into actual lived experiences of community members. Harambee House, our non-profit EJ partner for this project, will use this tool in various settings for their partnership building efforts, including their the EPA’s Near Port Initiative. Table Talk was a finalist in the 2019 Sappi Ideas That Matter grant.

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    Table Talk is a multi-stakeholder experience, which uses roleplay interaction, collaborative problem solving and generative communication, to build effective communication channels both internally and externally. It intends to help align communities and prepare participants to address complex community problems.

    Collaborative problem solving models such as the Environmental Protection Agencies near-port pilot initiative bring together multiple stakeholders to address a common goal. In this case, the goal was to alleviate the plight of near port communities who face the negative ripple effects of the port’s activities. The initiative provided each stakeholder (industry, community member, developer etc) a seat at the table and a platform to voice their grievances in order to identify concerns, that would once be addressed allow stakeholders to be good neighbors to one another.

    Although the initiative had all the makings for a perfect dish, it lacked a few key ingredients that prevented it from building flourishing, sustainable partnerships between all stakeholders involved. Insights drawn from our ten weeks of primary and secondary research pointed to the following:

    1: Trust

    Building and maintaining trust between stakeholders is a crucial factor in determining the success of any community-driven initiative. Each interaction between stakeholders and the community either reinforces or takes away from the bank balance of trust one has accumulated with the community. Hudson Hill, being a community facing generations of structural inequity and environmental justice issues was no stranger to initiatives such as the near port pilot. An active body of community members frequently participated in projects that addressed the upliftment of the community’s health and well- being. Nevertheless, the quick entry and exit of stakeholders into the community, resulted in community members lack trust in the collaborative process and scepticism of outside influences.

    2. Transparency:

    For the successful implementation of the ‘Good Neighbour’ goal put forward by the initiative, an in-depth acknowledgement of each entities contribute to the problem, even those with the most well meaning intentions who often see themselves as part of the solution, not the problem was fundamental. There was a lack of transparency and accountability within the initiative. Community members lacked the time, information and tools to follow up on plans with various stakeholders. Our data showed us that despite this, the community was willing to take on this additional responsibility, and fought for visibility and justice within the system they just need to be equipped with the right tools.

    3. Communication

    Community meetings appeared to be forums to attack, discredit and defend. Each stakeholder came prepared with their own personal goals and motivations that came prior to addressing the collective issue at hand. There was a lack of transparency on what each entity represented and their perspective on the collective issues. This resulted in an overall misalignment between the individual and collective concern of all stakeholders involved.

    Trust, Transparency and clear information flows became the foundation upon which Table Table was built. The community was in need of a channel, a tool that aligned and amplified their voice, built on their resilience and respected their lived experience.

    With Table Talk we wanted to provide the community with a real seat at the table. Through elements of role-play and enactment of Archetypes participants were able to call out acts of tokenism, acknowledge power dynamics and air past grievances in a playful environment. This allowed them to view collective issues objectively and from various vantage points.

    The flexibility built into the Archetypes generated an avenue for creative storytelling, where participants are able to highlight their struggles and showcase their perception of each entities contribution to the cause. Born out of this safe, co-created space were real conversations that surfaced possible factors that led to misalignment. The disruption cards built awareness around the limitations and obstacles each stakeholder had to overcome in order to fully realise the collective goal. All of the components were designed to restore the community’s trust in the collaborative process, allowing them to advocate for themselves with regard to any future partnerships while celebrating what they hold most sacred, their togetherness. Table Talk acknowledges that making the transition into an equitable society requires collective action and this starts with refining the models that facilitate how we work together.

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    Special thanks to Design Impact’s Metathemes, a report presenting a set of six ‘Meta’ themes gleaned from recurring insights surfaced from over 30 community projects addressing issues of poverty and inequity by Cincinnati based social innovation firm Design Impact.

  • Hudson Hill’s Rich History, Issues, and Hopes for the Future

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    By Chris Tsuyuki

    We’ve been honored to be meeting with community leaders and residents in Hudson Hill over the last 5 weeks, and we’re happy to share a little of what we’ve learned about the neighborhood. In the coming weeks we’ll share more about the work we’re doing with them directly, but a general overview is a great place to start. Hudson Hill’s largest population is residents 34 years old and younger and its most activated and engaged population is their cherished Golden Age. Over 80% of Hudson Hill residents are African American. And low-income households (households earning 50% or below the median income) make up more than half of the community. Faith provides an anchor for the community and residents band together like family. Despite its issues, the Hudson Hill community remains resilient, engaged and committed.

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  • Hello Harambe House!

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    By Kyle Parrapato

    Welcome to Design Management 740: Sustainable Practices in Design! We’re very excited to be a part of the revival collaboration between SCAD Design for Sustainability and Savannah’s own Harambee House. Harambee, translating loosely to ‘working together, pulling together helping each other, caring and sharing,’ is a local not-for-profit who identify themselves as ‘citizens for environmental justice.’

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  • Desiging through Uncertainty

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    By Mary Rhodes

    We entered this quarter with a lot of uncertainty. As a class we didn’t’ know each other very well and for the project we only knew who our champion was – Emergent Structures, along with a few general goals that each class before us had. We were presented with the challenge to design and collaborate with a focused community in Savannah, to follow existing energies before creating new and, one of the most important, to design solutions that will outlast our presence. The initiatives we’ve forwarded in this class all require a next level of agreement from the parters involved before they can be publicized further, sot there’s just a peek of them here now.

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  • Saturday in the Yard

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    By Ivonne Zuniga

    Last Saturday, March second, Emergent Structures hosted an event called ‘Saturday at the Yard’. During this beautiful sunny 74 degrees day, multiple volunteers came together with family and friends to show support and be a part of the conversation concerning reclaimed materials.

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  • SHAPE SAVANNAH: A Reclaimed Material Competition

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    By Ivonne Zuniga

    During the research process of our project we have encountered some repetitive insights; people don’t know the value of reclaimed materials; artists are afraid of handling them; and the value of Savannah is rarely communicated through the souvenirs that the stores sell. Based on this information we decided to develop a competition, challenging each of these aspects. Our goal was to prototype what can become an annual competition. But mostly we were very curious to see what amazing ideas our participant would come up with.

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  • Doing Good with Wood

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    By Xiaotong Du

    Nowadays, it’s common for us to notice that people are surrounded by artificial objects. We play video games or connect with friends through computers and mobile phones on a daily basis. We tend to be intuitive to touch the man-made high-tech products with confidence.

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  • Co-Creating Solutions

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    By Jee Eun Lee

    On January 31st, our class invited five stakeholders of Savannah’s material reclamation and maker communities to present to them insights from our secondary and primary research. We previously met and interviewed each of them individually (and many others) so this was our opportunity to meet as a group and listen to their opinions, thoughts and ideas about our insights.

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  • Is Community Based in Geographic Location?

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    By Mary Rodes, Rina Strydom, and Ivonne Zuniga

    If you look for the word community in a dictionary, the main two definitions that pop are:

    • A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
    • A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

    Community has been a key word in our project, mentioned many times in the group meetings, however, recently the question arose: What kind of community are we talking about?

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  • Every Nail Counts

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    By Ivonne Zuniga

    As a part of our research before starting this new project, the team and I joined this quarter’s ‘community champion’ Emergent Structures at the Lumberyard, a property that soon will be donated to them, for an afternoon of manual work. The work was mostly about de nailing the pieces of wood that they recover from past deconstructions.

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