Urban Agriculture Initiatives
Megan Braley & Victoria Perez
The Story of Our Food System
When you look back through time,
the story of food is one of agricultural
development, moving from family-owned
farms through the industrial revolution
Family Industrialized Global toward a global food system.
Farms Food System Food
In recent history problems with the
global food system have become
more apparent and many local food
movements have developed.
Philadelphia is attempting to follow
this movement, and is working toward
utilizing urban agriculture as a means
of development for blighted land
throughout the city.
However, the movement is having
trouble tipping. Our thesis will address
the needed collaboration between the
different stakeholders involved.
The current interactions among food-focused
organizations in Philadelphia indicate a need
for integrative development, and will serve
as a case study for constructing a cohesive
plan informed by design tools that reference
Malcolm Gladwell’s framework for creating a
This project is concerned
with developing an organized
urban agricultural system that
can be offered to the city of
Philadelphia as a service.
The Primary Players
Local Food Local Food The stakeholders involved in this
project include a large number of
Non-Profits For-Profits local food non-for-profit organizations,
URBAN for-profit farms, markets, grocery
AGRICULTURE stores, restaurants, and schools and a
number of city agencies. Each of these
stakeholders has a specific reason to
promote urban agriculture, and our
Municipal job is to design a plan that involves
Departments everyone equally.
To engage these stakeholders we will use a Growlots is an initial project has acted as a
variety of design tools including: presentations model designed to foster further dialogue,
to frame a number of scenarios, interviews, test a number of assumptions and create
collaborative forums, participatory design, potential strategies by soliciting feed-back
discussion cards, a blog for documentation and input from local activists, organizations,
and a newsletter that will be sent out twice a and city agencies involved in local farming
month to update our progress. initiatives and policy development.
Michael McAllister Richard Voith Alison Hastings Angel Rodriguez Joan Blaustein
Our committee is comprised of Director Angel Rodriguez, Urban Planner and
Michael McAllister, Professor at the Executive Director of the Empowerment
University of the Arts; Richard Voith, Senior Group; and Joan Blaustein, Director of the
Vice President Econsult Corporation; Division of Environment, Stewardship and
Alison Hastings, Director of the DVRPC Education at the City’s Department of
Greater Philadelphia Food System Study; Parks and Recreation.
Our projected timeline is divided
into Committee Meetings (orange)
and Stakeholder Meetings (blue).
December January February March April
15 16 16
19 21 23 21
Interviews and Forums
Prototype and Receive Feedback
Revision to Narrative
Design Process Our first step was to consider how we as designers
can contribute to the progress of urban agriculture
in the city. We were very influenced by Malcolm
Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point,” so we are looking
at this thesis as a way to test a combination of
Gladwell’s laws for creating a tipping point and our
design process on a systems’ issue.
Defining the Collaboration Refinement Execution
The Tipping Point
as defined by Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point"
the dramatic moment when ideas, messages,
behaviors, and products suddenly become so
popular that they transform into social epidemics.
The social epidemic we are trying
to create is urban agriculture in
Philadelphia. To accompish this,
we must break down the barriers
to create collaborative progress.
The following slides will explain how social epidemics can
evolve through the execution of three laws: the Law of the
Few, the Power of Context, and the Stickiness Factor.
Laws of Tipping
1. Law of the Few
spread by a few extraordinary people
The Law of the Few explains that social
epidemics are spread by a very few
extraordinary people. Our attempts to
induce this first law is through interviews
and collaborative forums with experts
connected to urban agriculture in
Chicago New York City
2. Power of Context
sensitive to the conditions and
circumstances of the specific time
The green movement has been around
for more than a decade. Many successful
models exist, and Philadelphia can look
to them for suggestions.
Philadelphia to the best of
its ability has chimed into
this movement through the
creation of a large number of
non-for-profits connected to
greening and urban agriculture.
There are a few key players when it comes to urban
farms and farmers’ markets such as: Greensgrow
Farm, Weavers Way Cooperative, and Fair Food Farm
stand at the Reading Terminal Market in center city.
Municipal Government Departments
Philadelphia Zoning Code Commission
A number of city departments are now pushing
urban agriculture for separate agendas as varied
as public health to zoning codes.
During the Collaborative Forum we held at the minutes discussing each one. We gained a lot of valuable
Univeristy of the Arts on November 20, 2009, we had information that pointed us in the direction of integrative
everyone in attendance take part in a card activity. We development.There is a great need for the stakeholders
asked each person to place the cards on the wall in in urban agriculture to better understand who exactly is
the order they felt the topics should be discussed. It involved and what exactly everyone is currently working
is easy to see that everyone had a different order in on so that we can eliminate the redundancy of efforts and
mind. We then chose the top three and spent twenty finally move urban agriculture forward.
The present narrative is that each
of the players within a group is
either collaborating on a small
scale or is in competition with one
another. Disconnections exist and
result in miscommunication or no
communication at all.
The process of participatory
design is our most important
Participatory design enables the stakeholders to
contribute to the final design, which allows them
to gain emotional investment. This ensures that
the future system is irresistible to the stakeholders
involved because they helped construct it.
3. The Stickiness Factor
information is packaged in a way that makes it irresistible
Participatory design is a process Interaction makes messages stickier
that involves all stakeholders to because contributors become a
create the most relevant solution. part of the message.
A cohesive framework demonstrating how all
of the stakeholders involved in this movement
can work collaboratively to re-write the narrative
of Philadelphia’s urban agriculture movement.