Coming to Know Savannah

By Felipe Cuellar & Cosette Saliba

Empathy is the capacity to step into other people’s shoes, to understand their lives, and start to solve problems from their perspectives. According with The Field Guide to Human-centered Design; “Human-centered design is premised on empathy, on the idea that the people you’re designing for are your roadmap to innovative solutions. All you have to do empathize, understand them, and bring them along with you in the design process.

Therefore, to get a comprehensive understanding of the Savannah community, we conducted 33 interviews with locals from all different backgrounds, unveiling beautiful stories and breathtaking experiences. We listened to their opinions, their pains and their gains, and we challenged them to share a vision of a better Savannah.

Once we heard all of these Savannahians’ voices, we still needed to distill the meaning behind their words and discover patterns within their stories. Doing so would allow us to identify design opportunities that will guide us to leveraging our collective skills to empower the people of Savannah to spark greater civic engagement and foster community resilience.

Over the course of several team sessions, we sorted through all of the data in an extensive and highly analytical process. Through this collaborative process we identified 6 powerful key insights from all of our research that we used to brainstorm our final solutions:

1. There are a lot of great organizations in Savannah
with no means of communication with each other.

2. Citizens tend to avoid getting involved with issues
that do not affect them directly.

3. Savannahians need a shared long-term vision.

4. There are a lack of public spaces where people of diverse backgrounds and cultures can interact with each other.

5. Savannahians avoid “mixing” with each other
because of a lack of trust.

6. There is a brilliance within Savannahians
that could be brought out through collaboration.

With these 6 insights, we transitioned from the research phase into the design phase of this project. In the following weeks, we’ll reveal to you just how these insights helped to shape our final designs.

Until then, we’d like to thank all of the Savannahians who participated in our interview process and who have collaborated with us along the way. A big thank you to…

Beverlee Trotter, Kelly Steele, Will Peebles , Diego Garcia, Kristin Russell, Liz Rhaney, Joe Steffen, Clinton Edminster, Lisa Junkin Lopez, Ryan Madson, Ashley Helmholdt, Tania Sammons, Van Johnson, Xulu Jones, Miriam Center, Omar Boone, Chris Mendrala, Brittany Curry, Brooks Stillwell, Dr. Carolyn Dowse, Sean Brandon, Kevin Klinkenberg, Shawn Kachmar, Martin Bell, Jessica Mathis, Jessica Leigh Lebos, Mary Landers, Jerome Meadows , Coco Papy, Trelani Michelle and Emergent Savannah.

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