Each year TEAGUE teams up with Western Washington University to help students build their knowledge of design discourse and professional practice in the discipline through a hands-on collaborative project intended to challenge current thinking and suggest new ways of looking at the world.
The 2012 design brief—Access Over Ownership—inspired two concepts: Vote+ and Local Kitchen. The team at TEAGUE was kind enough to share the results of this year's workshop with Core77. Here's a brief overview of the two projects:
Local kitchen is a public space that helps users learn to cook healthy, cost effective meals while providing a social outlet that strengthens community.
Eating used to be social and a key to reinforcing community but in recent years food and the issues that surround it have increasingly become ones of access: access to quality produce, to knowledge of how to prepare it and the financial means to purchase it. The result? Increasingly large portions of the population don't enjoy the benefits of good eating. When health and wellness concerns are added to the mix, the social benefits of providing equal access to good food becomes enormous.
Local Kitchen seeks to address the issue by reducing many of the barriers to healthy eating—specifically cost, access and knowledge. Installed at national and regional grocery stores, Local Kitchen provides enrollees the space, equipment, instruction and produce they need to learn and prepare healthy meals. The program incorporates several common features of fidelity programs with social media tools encouraging participants to discover recipes and techniques while allowing them the opportunity to meet new people.
Using the smartphone app, menu options are presented by cost and by featured produce; a promotion on salmon for example, is paired with a number of relevant recipes. Once a dish is selected users can drive the per plate price down by joining other groups or by adding friends from their Facebook account. Once an acceptable price is arranged, users can book Local Kitchen time and send invitations easily from within the Local Kitchen app or website. On the day of their reservation, users meet up in-store and divvy up shopping responsibilities taking advantage of promotions and special pricing available to program participants. Condiments and basic cooking items such as salt & pepper, butter and spices are provided free of change making the savings even more appealing.
With their ingredients collected, users check out at dedicated Local Kitchen check-in stations located at the entrance of the space.
Fully stocked stations equipped with pots and pans as well as cutting knives and other basic equipment are provided at no additional charge. Each station comes with a dedicated display that provides step-by-step instructions for promoted recipes. A central station is manned with staff prepared to demonstrate basic cooking techniques or more personalized instruction for a small premium. Similarly, specialty equipment and advanced services such as wine pairings or dessert recommendations can be provided at additional cost.
When the cooking is done, users transfer their meal to the dedicated dinning area. Plates, glasses silverware and water are all provided at no extra cost. Best part? No dirty dishes, ever!
By elevating the social component of cooking and reducing costs and knowledge gaps, Local Kitchen lowers barriers to healthy eating in a way that is fun and engaging. The hope is that by making cooking appointment entertainment, Local Kitchen can advance the health and wellness of the general population in a way that is both informative and fun.
Vote+ is a suite of connected tools that aims to increase US citizen participation in the democratic process by making the activity more personal, convenient, secure and engaging.
Everyone has an opinion. Unfortunately those opinions don't always translate in to votes. In the United States it's estimated that only 50% of the nation votes. There are a number of factors that inform low voter turnout: access to information, to forms and a host of other barriers. But in an era where social networks, Twitter and other online forums are a hive of activity and debate, this number remains staggering.
As the success of social media illustrates, having an opinion isn't the problem. Taking action that communicates that opinion is. Vote+ facilitates this by tackling four opportunities for improvement: Making it personal. Making it convenient. Making it secure. And driving participation by making the end-to-end experience engaging.
The big shift was to reframe voter engagement by leveraging local issues to attract voters into the process. Vote+ provides individuals the tools they need to document and broadcast local issues they care about (in this case a pot hole).
Connected tools and online services let you track interest in your cause as others weigh in and help advance it toward regional ballots and measures. Activity is also tracked by dynamic ledger boards that are easily installed at community gathering spots like cafes, malls and grocery stores.
Watching issues advance from the local to county and state level pulls community members into the process and can spark interest in the general electoral process. Each ledger board provides localized information in easy-to-read graphic brochures that make local politics understandable.
A key feature of the Vote+ brochure is the Values Template, a smart solution that lets you quickly identify candidates from across party lines that share your concerns.
Time needed and access to polling sites is frequently cited as a key barrier to voting. Vote+ removes those barriers by providing tools and safety measures that greatly expand the number of serviceable voting sites available.
Onsite vote handling is managed through dedicated scanners that digitally encrypt voting records and provide voters a printed receipt with a unique reference code, which can be verified online to ensure accuracy.
By making voting more personal, convenient, secure and engaging, Vote+ aims to lower barriers that have traditionally made participation in the electoral process unappealing and inconvenient. In an age that has witnessed the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement, Vote+ aims to reorient community interest into mainstream participation in the mother of all social apps: democracy.