Image of the completed Magic Button activity, in which visitors drew a way to change their food access experience. Designed and created by hand.

Image of participants interacting with our activity Spill the Beans, in which users allocate stress, joy, and priority beans to indicate what role food plays in their lives.

Map created for visitors to engage with by indicating distance between their home and food access points to test if people travel further for culturally-relevant food.

Ultimately our team responded to prompts from the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics by creating opportunities for community members to share their stories and lived experiences. Designing a variety of models allowed visitors to choose the engagement tool with which they felt most comfortable.

The image above was taken in the middle of our pop-up, and shows our team engaging with visitors.

As the director for Scout Labs — the team specializing in service and spatial design within the student-run design collaborative at Northeastern — I’ve overseen research on how food insecurity manifests itself in Boston and on Northeastern’s campus. We put on a research pop-up at Scout’s annual conference to test the models we built for community engagement to ultimately present to our partners: the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice, and the Center for Design at Northeastern.

At the pop-up, we had five distinct stations / activities. Some were more drawing-heavy, another resembled a traditional survey, and others were more tactile. Through a variety of engagement methods, we were able to gather an impressive amount of data about food insecurity on campus as well as bring to light stories about how food fits into the lives of participants.

Scout Labs Research Pop-up