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The Miracle Garden


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The Miracle Garden

  1. 1. Reporters’ book A guide for design- based ethnographic research Name of the Initiative
  2. 2. Part 1: Interview
  3. 3. 1.1 Description What do they do? (Description of service idea, e.g. a community garden, a food coop, etc). What are the demands/ problems this initiative responds to? What is the aim of the initiative? What happens and how does it happens? What benefits does it bring to the neighborhood? The garden was sponsored by a $25000 grant from Whole Foods, which was administered by Council on The Environment. Their initiative is to provide a quiet, pleasant place for residents of the neighborhood to escape the chaos of the city. The garden brings a sense of warmth and community to an otherwise stark neighborhood. 1.2 Context What is this neighborhood like? How was it before this new solution took place? The neighborhood is slightly run down, but is rapidly being renovated. Several new restaurants and shops have been put into the neighborhood. The garden used to be a “drug yard”, which was dangerous to the neighborhood before it received the grant from Whole Foods.
  4. 4. 1.3 History of the initiative How did the project/initiative start? Who took the initiative? Why? Can you describe a timeline of events, highlighting success and failure aspects, major milestones? How far can you go back? How did this initiative mature? How did it turn to be a real enterprise? (registered, formalized etc.) Did it receive public or private support of any kind? Did it help change the public or policy structure? The Miracle Garden began as a dangerous, run down “drug yard” located in a quiet neighborhood in the Lower East Side. In 2006, Whole Foods donated a $25,000 grant to go towards the clearing out the “drug yard” and the building and opening of The Miracle Garden. Even after the renovation, however, the garden was rarely open, until a few years ago when more members began volunteering their time and effort. Penny Evans, who recently passed away, was responsible for taking care of the garden for many years. The garden is currently run by Suzy Kutz and eleven other active members. 1.4 Main actors Who are the users of this initiative? Who are the promoters of this initiative? Is there a difference between users and promoters or are they basically the same? Describe users and promoters lifestyles? Do the users work as a group or groups? Is there a network of related organizations and/or individuals? Do they have any form of connection or exchange with other similar initiatives? Was the group inspired by other examples? Do you know counter examples, (of service ideas that did not take-off), cases that went wrong? Suzy Kutz is currently the most active member of The Miracle Garden. She visits the garden frequently to maintain the plants and keep the benches and gathering areas clean. She works closely with the garden’s other eleven members, all of whom work together to promote the use of the garden throughout the neighborhood. According to Suzy, the garden is widely known throughout the neighborhood and used frequently during the spring and summer months.
  5. 5. 1.5. Technologies What are the technologies that the group uses? How are they used in system? The members of the Miracle Garden keep in touch through the use of cell phones and email. There is currently no official website for the garden. 1.6. Communication What communication materials do the group have? (e.g. website, brochures, postcards, etc). What is the main purpose of these materials? e.g. to keep participants updated about activities (internal communication) or to get more participants (external communication)? Does the group want to have more participants? The Miracle Garden is not currently being advertised through the media. Suzy Kunz informed our group that the garden is very well known throughout the neighborhood by “word of mouth.”
  6. 6. 1.7. Perspective for the future What are the perspective/objectives of the group for the next 3-5 years? What are some of the success factors and possible risks in the short medium and long term? The members of The Miracle Garden would like to find ways to keep the garden open more frequently. Although the city waives water fees for the maintenance of the garden, they rarely provide additional services due to the current state of the economy. Kunz mentioned the use of fundraisers in the neighborhood in order to gain more money to go towards the garden. She also mentioned the fact that more volunteers would benefit the garden significantly. Because all of the funding for the garden is currently coming from its members, Kunz mentioned the possible opening of a non-profit organization that would financially benefit the garden. 1.8. Problems and opportunities Are there any specific issues/problems/barriers that pose threats to the initiative? Are there any main areas of concern among the participants (leaders and users alike)? Are there any opportunities that could be explored (that are currently not explored)? Because money, as well as membership to the garden, is limited, it is difficult for the garden’s current members to develop the garden further. Setting up a website to promote membership and social networking could greatly influence the future success of the garden.
  7. 7. 1.9. Indications of other social innovation Do the users participate in other entrepreneurial endeavors? Do they form small initiatives on their own? Are members involved in other “sustainable” services within the community? (Ex. Food Co-op, carpooling, community gardens, etc)? Do you see evidence of wider networks that these users contribute to? Kunz mentioned being active in numerous fundraisers throughout the Lower East Side, but none of which are in connection with the garden. 1.10. References Website of the initiative Interviewee name and contact information (email, address, phone number) Other references (websites, articles, other people we should talk to) Suzy Kunz 1-646-498-9619 1-212-982-2164 GreenThumb: NYC Department of Parks & Recreation 1-212-788-8070
  8. 8. Quantitative Data Exercise How many members does the initiative have? How many are very active in the initiative? How does individual spaces compare with shared/group spaces? How many members are involved in other community-based services? (Food Co-op, activist orgs, clothes swapping, bike sharing, etc.) What is the size of the initiative in square footage? Garden’s Members: 12 Restaurants: 3 Recreational Buildings: 2 Clothing Stores: 1 Residential Buildings: multiple Street Parking: ample The garden is approximately 5,000 sq feet. It is peaceful and quiet, blending in with this small neighborhood. It adds aesthetic value to the neighborhood without looking overwhelming.
  9. 9. Part 2: Pictures & film
  10. 10. Photo Instructions  Please take close-up detailed photos due to the winter conditions of gardens (ex. Buds, small greenery, tools, gathering spaces, colorful areas)  Photos may ONLY be taken with a high megapixel digital camera (no iphone photos or low resolution photos)  Choose highest picture quality setting that camera allows  Always ASK permission before taking photos or footage of people and/or spaces  See Release Form on the final page of this document. You MUST have Release Form(s) signed by the photo/footage subject.
  11. 11. Photo checklist 1.Context 1.1 The general context (e.g. landscape, urban area, etc) 1.2 The close context (e.g. the neighbourhood, etc) 1.3 The place from outside (e.g. building, house, etc)   1.4 The entrance (e.g. signage, access door or gate, etc) 1.5 The place from inside (e.g. dedicated room, private places, gazebo, pond, planting areas, recreational areas, etc) 2. Participant 2.1 Two to three typical users (show them in different situations, e.g. portrait/standing, in-action, etc) 2.2 The organiser/provider (portrait/standing, in-action, etc) 2.3 Show something characteristic of the user’s motivation to participate? 2.4 Show the key participants in the service/organization (e.g. leaders, gatekeepers, organizers, connectors, innovators, etc) 3. Material Artifacts 3.1 Show communication materials of the organization (leaflets, signage, etc) 3.2 Could you show essential objects that users interact with, or that provide key moments in the service? 3.3 Could you show evidence of entrepreneurial work by users or providers? Show intangible/tangible innovations created by users or providers. 4. Benefits 4.1 Could you show participant benefits? organiser benefits? collective benefits? environmental benefits? economical benefits? 5. Perspectives for the future 5.1 Could you show the future perspectives of the solution?
  12. 12. Film guidelines Please take footage of the following:   The person/people you are interviewing. Ask them to introduce themselves, their role in the organization, and a brief description of the organization (30 sec)   A brief history of the organization (15-30 sec)   A typical activity taking place in the space including participants of the organization (30 sec-1 min)   Participants of the organization interacting with each other (30 sec)   Participants of the organization interacting with the space/props/ objects (30 sec)
  13. 13. General Release It is hereby agreed by and between the parties that this document shall constitute a general release authorizing Parsons The New School to use the photographs, statements and video of the undersigned subject in perpetuity, without any compensation. It is also understood that the photographs, statements and/or videos are to be, and may be, used by Parsons for photographic displays, exhibits, on institution’s website, and the like, or for inclusion in any brochures, advertisements, newspapers, newsletters or any similar activities including print, television or electronic media, at the discretion of Parsons The New School. It is further understood by and between both parties to this agreement that the undersigned subject is not to be compensated for the use of said materials by Parsons The New School. The execution of this document constitutes a waiver of any rights to compensation now or in the future. It is further understood by and between both parties to this agreement that this written document constitutes the sum total of all discussions, negotiations and agreements had with respect to this release, and that this document, when executed, represents the entire agreement and understanding between the parties; any agreement or understanding not contained in this document is specifically and categorically denied.    Date: Subject Witness