1. The Amplification Program AMPLIFY Amplifying Creative Communities in New York City
How can we stimulate the generation of sustainable and socially innovative solutions to our urban everyday problems? New York City Is a unique laboratory for experimenting, modeling and showcasing sustainable forms of urban living. Amplification is a program designed to promote socially innovative solutions to urban problems in different areas of NYC. In each area there is a Framework Project at the neighborhood level, based on specific initiatives. 1.1_The Amplification Program: context and main problem
1.2_The Amplification program: vision and objectives Objectives To improve and expand the capacity of neighborhoods and communities to recognize, envision and diffuse social innovations at a local level, to AMPLIFY them. Vision Innovative grassroots practices are often below the radar of the general public and need to be acknowledged and sometimes “normalized” to be accepted as valid and desirable.
1.2_The Amplification Program: promoters Led by DESIS Lab Parsons The New School for Design In partnership with Lower East Side Ecology Center Green Map Org IDEO Funded by The Rockefeller Foundation 2009 NYC Cultural Innovation Fund Supported by DESIS Network
1.3_Framework Project: structure <ul><li>Mapping of diffuse cases of sustainable social innovations. </li></ul><ul><li>Designing scenarios and toolkits to stimulate the start-up of new initiatives. </li></ul><ul><li>Communicating through (a) exhibitions , (b) workshops and (c) websites to stimulate strategic conversations, create awareness and promote change within communities. </li></ul>The Amplification structure:
1.4_Framework Projects 2010/2011 Framework Project 2 Brooklyn 2009/2010 Framework Project 1 Manhattan: Lower East Side
2. Framework Project 1 AMPLIFICATION 1 Manhattan: Lower East Side
The Lower East Side was chosen as the initial site for this project due to its high population density, diverse ethnic communities, history of resistance to gentrification and strong political capital. Amplification 1 Manhattan: The Lower East Side 2.1_Framework Project 1: context and main problem
2.2_Framework Project 1: structure and actions Action 1: MAPPING Cases of Social Innovation Action 2: INTERPRETING Examples and Local Challenges Action 3: DESIGNING Scenarios and Project Ideas Action 5: DEVELOPING Toolkits for Service Implementation Action 4: EXHIBITING Possible Project SPIN-OFFS
Research on the LES has revealed different layers through which social innovation materializes, from informal spontaneous practices, formalized efforts of local non-profits and historical results of local politics such as community gardens , the most visible examples of ‘creative communities’ in the LES. Mapping Social Innovation 2.3_Framework Project 1: action 1
A closer look at the results of the research with 17 community gardens led us to identify creative solutions for everyday life developed by garden members and 4 main challenges in the neighborhood. 2.4_Framework Project 1: action 2 Local Challenges 1. Taking Care of the Elderly 2. Eating Healthy 3. Retaining Cultural Identity 4. Living Together
2.4_Framework Project 1: action 2 Short videos designed by students enrolled in the course “Amplify Social Innovation” tell stories about local demands, unmet needs and innovative solutions in the neighborhood. Local Challenges Click on the images on the right to watch the videos.
2.5_Framework Project 1: action 3 Scenarios: Local Projects Four project proposals responding to the mix of demands and existing cases of social innovation/urban activism revealed through research.
2.5_Framework Project 1: action 3 Local Project 1: Eating Healthy Obesity, diabetes, and health issues related to food are a national and local challenge. How can we make the community’s alternative food systems such as urban agriculture, food co-ops, and community-supported agriculture groups more accessible to the entire Lower East Side population?
2.5_Framework Project 1: action 3 Local Project 2: Taking Care of the Elderly Traditional forms of support like senior centers are receiving fewer resources. How can we take this problem as an opportunity to rethink senior-focused services on the Lower East Side?
2.5_Framework Project 1: action 3 Local Project 3: Retaining Cultural Diversity The Lower East Side has historically been a melting pot of the most diverse communities, accommodating people from all over the world. How can we transform this wealth of cultures into a productive celebration rather than a community characterized by language barriers and separation?
2.5_Framework Project 1: action 3 Local Project 4: Living Together With the pressure of gentrification, living on the Lower East Side is becoming more and more difficult to afford. And community bonds are fraying. Can we imagine collaborative services that respond to these challenges?
For the exhibition at the LES five main sections were envisioned. Each one designed using an interactive element to create a direct dialogue with the public. 2.6_Framework project 1: action 4 Exhibiting
Section 1 with miniatures of gardens recreated for the exhibition by garden members and the local community. 2.6_Framework project 1: action 4 Exhibiting
Section 2 with the index cards used by the public to help us identify more cases of social innovation. 2.6_Framework project 1: action 4 Exhibiting
Section 3 with wall-mounted iPods showing cases of social innovation from around the world with a voting system to invite the public to select their favorite cases. 2.6_Framework project 1: action 4 Exhibiting
Section 4 with videos portraying local innovations, local demands and a “mailbox” for comments. 2.6_Framework project 1: action 4 Exhibiting
Section 5 with the scenarios designed by students for the Lower East Side. In this area the public is invited to use markers and post-its to leave their comments on the proposals. 2.6_Framework project 1: action 4 Exhibiting
We are currently developing a set of toolkits to encourage individuals, local non-profits and policy-makers in the design for solutions that promote sustainable lifestyles and the generation of sustainable and socially innovative solutions to urban problems in the LES. 2.7_Framework project 1: action 5 Developing Toolkits
3. Design role For AMPLIFY, people are already innovating ways of living and working. In this context designing is first to recognize the existence of a (tacit and diffuse) design capacity to solve urban everyday problems and then to apply more explicit design skills in order to: <ul><li>Improve the success of these initiatives and make them more desirable and usable solutions for others to adopt. </li></ul><ul><li>Promote synergies around a common and shared vision, resources and infrastructure. </li></ul>
3.1 Supporting and facilitating strategic conversations Communication design is at the core of of every amplification process: <ul><li>The exhibition is used as research tool and a method of interacting with the public and consulting the community. </li></ul><ul><li>Beyond the exhibition, the project makes use of workshops to analyze the context and discuss proposals in direct contact with stakeholders. </li></ul><ul><li>The project maintains a website to document and show its results and interact with the community. </li></ul>
3.2 Supporting and facilitating strategic conversations <ul><li>Mapping tools to identify resources; </li></ul><ul><li>Cases studies to inspire; </li></ul><ul><li>Guerrila Ethnographic Videos to give a voice to the community; </li></ul><ul><li>Design Scenarios to activate dialogues about the future. </li></ul>
3.3 Envisioning and visualizing In the Amplify project scenarios have been used to stimulate a conversation about the future of a particular solution or system. They are specially constructed stories about different possible ideas, aimed at deliberately exploring alternative futures and understanding their implications.