Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DP: Project Explanation & Timeline

I decided to focus my degree project on the issue of homelessness because it’s a problem that is all around me and it bothers me but I haven’t known what I could do that would make a difference. I want to understand the problem and the forces that perpetuate homelessness so that I may help these neighbors of mine.

Through my research I have learned that the only way to get out of homelessness is with strong encouragement and support from community. There are already a lot of people out there who are doing the important job of donating to homeless organizations. These places couldn’t stay in operation without generous gifts of supplies and money. But an important aspect of generosity which is commonly missing in neighborhoods and businesses is hospitality. Most people are willing to part with a few cans of food, but the love and sacrifice required to get people off the streets isn’t as easy to give up. The objective of my project is to build up community between groups of people who are separated by economic status so that strangers in need become friends in need. I want to introduce this kind of community to people who may not know it exists and help people who are looking for it to find it.

The question I have to answer is, “how can a design system influence and facilitate a supportive community and relational interaction between the homeless and the privileged class? An important part of having a successful project is meeting people who already work with the homeless. They already understand the problem, they know what works and what doesn’t, and they are a part of the existing social network that I need to utilize. Meeting people from Cherith Brook and Artists Helping the Homeless has provided some good insights. I’ve made connections with Reconciliation Services and Homeless Services Coalition but haven’t spent any time getting to know them yet. My experiments have centered around the idea of friendship and personal interaction. The most important thing to me is providing situations for people to meet and get to know the homeless. If I’m not creating these situations myself, I’m directing people to them.

The most likely design solution at this point is some form of printed material. One of my goals is to create something that will be used. I don’t want to be limited by by my own resources but at the same time, if this project doesn’t get funded by someone else, I want to be able to create it myself. Kar Woo from Artists Helping the Homeless receives a lot of financial support for his projects so there might be a good chance that he will be able to help me find funding if he has confidence in my idea.