How Do We Make People Care?

We're on the downhill of this quarter long roller coaster, and it's the most exciting part of the ride. Lots of work still lies ahead, but things are starting to fall into place, and the groundwork is is paying off.

Some of my research in the beginning of the quarter surrounded nonprofits efforts with their campaigns, and how they create interaction and involvement. I thought I would look for some strategy to help foster collaboration between business, nonprofit, government, and individuals.

Many of the questions that surrounded their articles related to "how do we make them care?"

This is one of the main puzzles that surrounds advocates in the sustainability field. How do we make people care? The network I'm creating is set up like a focused, goal oriented Pinterest. I'm hoping to provide education and inspiration, to make people care, which hopefully leads to collaboration and problem solving.

The structure, as you can see in the developing wireframe, is a nonprofit or bcorp presenting an issue, and education around it. The education aspect is presented in 3 levels. As the user scrolls through an issue, they can understand the concise global context, local context, and personal context to help create more meaning. They can then respond with an idea or action that relates to making improvements to the issue, which others can see and become inspired by.

The social network is titled Waves. Participants, when responding to an issue, can post 'ripples' and exchange ideas and creativity on a variety of problems. Users will be able to see all the ripples they've posted over time, and how those ripples have contributed to help make larger waves towards positive social change. The mission of Waves is to help create the most vibrant people, planet, and communities we possibly can, while having fun and being inspired in the process.

We will see if education, inspiration, and collaboration within Waves will trigger people to care, or become more aware of the issues around us, and I'm eager to test it out. I'm dedicating this week to visual development, and am excited to show y'all what I come up with. Suggestions are always welcome! Until next week :)

Team Effort, but Unique Individual Value

Midterm week has come and passed, and and there are only a few remaining weeks until graduation! Research focuses need to transform into impactful outcomes, so it's go time.

My research for this app/network includes both secondary and primary research. My secondary research consists of publication research, case studies, and expert interviews with digital marketing strategists, sustainability teachers, and nonprofit leaders. Because of the short time frame of the project, I have utilized some existing contextual research from Lextant and Universum about Millennials to support my own primary observations and survey results. 

I took the weekend to synthesize all of the data I have gathered over the last few weeks, and came back with five focuses to move forward with. 


One of the main takeaways from my research is the first focus: 'uniquely valuable content.' One of my survey questions I asked in order to gain insight for how to spark involvement with my app, was "what cause are you passionate about?"

The results were astounding. 44 different causes were represented, and that point alone helped me to realize that passion comes from all kinds of sources. From nutrition, to equal marriage rights, to programs for current and former military, to pediatric cancer research, the drive to make a difference came in all shapes and sizes. So, I began thinking about how I can spark that spirit with each individual, and make content uniquely valuable for each of them. The framework I'm designing for the app is meant to foster collaboration, creativity, passion, and excitement, based off of the idea that the goals and challenges presented need to be narrow enough to have direction, and wide enough to ignite that passion for the different reasons people and organizations have it.

If the app information isn't relevant, personal, and valuable to various players, it won't achieve my goal. The goal is to inspire individuals, businesses, and organizations to participate in their own way, 'at home,' to help achieve a larger positive change. By rotating the content/challenges in the app, hopefully I will hit triggers for initial participation for a variety of people. I believe interdisciplinary participation is one of the major keys to advances in sustainability efforts. A team of unique individuals, with unique expertise, each contributing and extracting unique value within the scenario.

Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
— Vince Lombardi
Each member of a team comes to practice and play for a different reason.

Each member of a team comes to practice and play for a different reason.

So, moving forward, I will be creating journey maps for my players, a service blueprint to define the app, and move into wireframes and visual design for the project. The number one thing that's missing at the moment: a name. The way this network is presented, and the language it uses, is so influential in its success or failure. I'm excited to brainstorm and tackle that step. Suggestions are welcome :) Until next week, friends!

Day-to-Day Goodness

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.
— Abraham Lincoln

As I've continued to develop my concepts for final project, I waver in how to get to the root of paradigm change about sustainability. I want to create something that doesn't lead to a dead-end; I want it to be something that evolves, adapts, and grows, as the user's perspectives do the same. 

Finding those strategic leverage points that allow both for learning, and for cultivation of ideas and innovation is difficult. The information needs to be relevant, enticing, and trigger the want to do good. If I can create that trigger, and then bring the user back to that relevant information to start the process over again to learn, do good, and share, then I will have achieved my goal.

People love a challenge. People love to see themselves improve and get better. Competition drives our culture. So why can't this be applied to doing good, that not only makes us feel good, but helps us to live in a healthier, more sustainable place? 

I have started reading the book The Solution Revolution to help inspire and guide my project in new ways. It emphasizes the need for collaboration across all sectors to create a productive, sustainable economy. NGOs, government, business, and citizens all must collaborate to solve some of the biggest global challenges we face. I want my project to help create intersection between these groups. "Mark Kramer says that 'social change becomes part of the competitive equation-companies have to compete around their ability to improve social conditions and achieve social outcomes'...In an Edelman global survey, the majority of consumers viewed corporate donations as insufficient, instead urging companies 'to integrate good causes into their day-to-day business" (Eggers, MacMillan, 35). 

So I ask, if we want companies to be incorporating good causes into their day-to-day business, then shouldn't we, as citizens, as well?

A new Social Progress Indicator was just released today, and I love the framework it provides for the wellbeing of countries. I want to express through the relevant context in my app or network that these are the kinds of things we want to strive for, to create a better world for us all to live. My next challenge is how to frame #BeyondGDP in a way that means something to my users, and how I can empower them to achieve this. Stay tuned :)

Social Progress Index

Social Progress Index

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Mindful Millennials

Week 2 of the quarter is underway. Today, I presented my final scoping and initial research planning for my work in progress, ‘Mindful Millennials.’ 


The goals of the project are to diffuse education through the millennial age group about sustainability, create community connection, and encourage lifestyle improvements to live more sustainably. My theory for the project is if you provide meaningful context, and the tools for change, then each individual will apply this information to their lives as they see fit.

The key though, in my eyes, is the meaningful part. 

We are bombarded every day with incredible amounts of information. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, newsletters, emails... it’s constant. So what makes information stick? What do Millennials want to know about sustainability and the world around them? How can we reconnect people to nature, and harness the power of social media and technology to do so? It may seem like an oxymoron, connecting people to nature with technology, but I believe with tailored, specific messages, and tools for local connection, this can be achieved.

With a lot of strategy, and a little luck, I’m hoping an app can serve as three leverage points based on Donella Meadows' Thinking in Systems book. She points out that information flows can wreak havoc on the functionality of a system. Without the right information to the right people, systems will fail. I want to create smooth information flows about sustainability topics that are important to people. Additionally, she says self-organization is a powerful leverage point and tool for change. Social media seems like it could serve as this perfect platform for this kind of leverage. Finally, even though it has less impact than other points, she believes numbers are a place to start when it comes to change. Numbers, meaning every little person doing something good, leads to change over time. Every time someone uses a reusable bag versus a plastic one, that’s a number, and it does have an effect, even if it’s minor. I’m hoping that with context and tools, comes lifestyle changes, even if they’re just little numbers.

Moving forward with this framing, I’m starting to dive into contextual research about content strategy, user experience design, desired sustainable lifestyle changes, and social innovation. I’m excited to move forward, and hopefully come out with worthwhile design to connect millennials to sustainability and their communities. Any feedback or connections to resources would be greatly appreciated. 


We all have impact, negative and positive. How can I use this design to facilitate more of the positive?

Your deepest roots are in nature.  No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation. 
— Charles Cook

thumbnail image source: FastCompany