In the college town of Cedarville, Ohio, there is a gap between the students who live off-campus and the town residents. The goal of this project was to identify the factors that inhibit neighborhood relationship in general and specifically within the community of Cedarville, Ohio. Once identified, we sought to encourage interaction between off-campus students and town residents.
The goal of this project was to gain experience in design research and present a viable solution to a recognized problem.
To begin, the team of designers working on the project all identified their presuppositions and drafted a research strategy. We also drafted an initial hypothesis of, "The community would like to know each other, even if off-campus students are only present during the school year; inciting an opportunity to meet your neighbor is the most effective way to bridge the gap."
In order to validate our hypothesis and construct a relevant solution, we established three separate research methods; so called say, do, and make sessions.
To identify the root cause of the problem, we developed a survey (or "say" session) where participants were given the opportunity to voice their thoughts on the topic of neighbors. We went door-to-door in the Cedarville community to ask off-campus students and locals about their interaction with neighbors. Participants filled out a short survey and the data revealed that lack of neighborly relationships was indeed a real problem.
The survey participants were asked to participate in a research activity (or "do" session) where they participated in an activity. We asked them to record any interaction with their neighbors, positive and negative, for one week and reflect on their results at the end of the week. The results revealed that only 38% participants actually interacted with their neighbors and when they did, the interactions were almost always positive.
To conclude, participants gathered for a time of collaboration (or "make" session) where they visualized ideal neighborly relationships. The participants worked individually on lists of words which they believed described ideal neighborly interaction. They then collaborated on photo collages which envisioned interaction between off-campus students and town residents. Each participant explained their thought process and most were passionate about providing more opportunities for neighborly interaction.
After intense analysis of all the data we gathered, our proposed solution was to build a campaign titled "Hey Cedarville!" This campaign involved a proposed event and Facebook page which would provide off-campus students and town residents a chance to interact in a non-invasive environment. We believe our solution addressed all concerns and will hopefully help to unite the community of Cedarville and to inspire similar campaigns in communities around the country.