Girls Guild Pilot sessions are open for sign up!

A community connecting artists and makers in apprenticeship.

Happy Spring!

Diana and I have been hard at work meeting with fabulous artists, makers, and business women across Austin to curate our first pilot guild sessions, and we’re super excited to show off our core group of makers!

Artists and Makers

We’ll be holding our first pilot session with jeweler Anna Gieselman, the woman behind Rarewears, who will be holding a session on how to make elegant hoop & bead earrings as well as wire and bead necklaces on Sunday April 15th, 4-6pm! If you know any girls between the ages of 12 and 19 who would be interested, have them sign up to work with Anna!

Our subsequent pilot sessions will be happening throughout April and May with various ages, 12 and up. Please pass along the Girls Guild website to any teenage girls or parents of young women who might be interested in working with one of our makers!
Most of the sessions will last 2-3 hours and then we’ll ask the girls to provide us some feedback on it afterwards so we can design the sessions to best fit their needs.

We’re so excited to be piloting soon, and we’re honored to have your support!
As always, send us an email or Facebook message with any insights or ideas you may have. And we would be eternally grateful for any contacts to schools, girls organizations, or individuals who might be interested in our pilot!

Happy Making!

Cheyenne & Diana
Co-Founders of Girls Guild
@thegirlsguild | Facebook

Technology Is a Tool

Technology is a tool that humans have used for centuries. It’s part of what defines us as human. It’s an extension of ourselves.

Technology is a tools that grants us the ability to wield unimaginable power. We can use it as an advantage over others, helping us to remember perfectly, or to catalog our lives with great precision.

But should we?

Often times technology creates an un-level playing field, where the rich gain the edge, and the poor stay dis-empowered.

Designers have the ability to change this dynamic.

By engaging in the unmeasurable aspects of what make us human; emotion, context, phenomenology, irrational and strange behavior, we will be forced to extend our understandings into unknown areas of human existence.

Stretching ourselves to design for the dis-empowered will lead us towards making more careful and empathetic technology for everyone.


Making things and then having to talk about them

Hi blog readers!
We’re done with the second quarter and it was awesome. We have our big ideas from the research we did, we’ve made a ton of things in support of our initial ideas, and we’ve learned a bunch of methods for blowing out our ideas. The design idea I worked on exploding, assembling, and iterating is called Edible Rambler (previously Wild Edibles Map, and the name is still under consideration). Some of these methods included use cases, scenarios, storyboards, process flows, wireframes, prototypes, and finally the dreaded presentation of the product.

I presented Edible Rambler on Thursday evening along with delivering the wireframes and prototypes which has been the most challenging thing for me in a class for making. I can hack the production of deliverables; I’m familiar with the tools and I’m confident with the methods, but the public speaking is another ball of wax. My level of anxiety about presenting has become manageable when I’ve left myself time to organize the presentation and run through it at least once beforehand. However, NOT having left myself time for this on Thursday made me realize that I can still get through in a somewhat organized fashion with little preparation. Pushing myself to complete the materials, get in front of the whiteboard a full two hours before I present, and knowing that the whole thing won’t go pear-shaped if I haven’t memorized a script will absolutely help me with the anxiety next time. Finally.

There were a few other methods that posed a challenge for me which I’ll speak about briefly. One of these was conceptualizing the wireframes without a solid business model. I found it frustratingly difficult for me to wire-out the flow of a service that should be seamlessly integrated with it’s financial model. I burned through a lot of scrap paper mapping out the flow of the UI, which eventually helped me understand how I want the business to function. Next time however, I’ll make sure to have the Business Model Canvas done long before I’m at the wireframes stage and before I try and design the user interface. The process flow was also a learning experience for me. It was a great way to understand how to step through the use of a service through yes and no scenarios which lead you further along, terminate your experience, or more often take you off-course and loop you back around. It was an interesting way to think about system functionality and extremely useful.

So without further delay, let me introduce Edible Rambler, a free mapping app that allows you to post and share edible plants, trees, fruit in both urban and wild areas! Registration to the paid service would put you in touch with a community of private gardens and allow you to share and trade garden edibles!
Let me know what you think!


Check out the Clickable Prototype!
Check out the Wireframes.

Edible Rambler

Moving into the next phase of design research and reflecting on the past

Now that the first quarter is over and we’ve presented our research findings, I’ve been reflecting on our struggles and successes with the research methods, and the new directions our findings have guided us towards in the second phase of research.

Jonathan and I did our initial contextual inquiry at the Farmers’ Market, where we observed farm vendors in the point of sale process with customers. We learned a good deal about the relationships that are built between community and vendor and became more familiar with the research methods.

One thing that we learned in that process was that WIC vouchers (Women, Infants, and Children), are not accepted at Farmers’ Markets in the Winter months. Because the program is federally-funded, the assumption is that the growing season has ended by Winter. In Texas this isn’t the case. We’re lucky to have a year-round growing season, and because of this, our Farmer’s Markets stay open all year long.

With this in mind we decided that it would be interesting to adjust our focus going into the participatory interviews to learn how lower-income single individuals select, prepare, and consume food. We set out to target those participating in SNAP (food stamps), but we found it difficult to recruit this demographic. Jonathan and I contacted headquarters at HEB, but they didn’t return our messages. We contacted people who worked at SNAP but for obvious reasons they couldn’t put us into contact with their clients. After handing out stacks of flyers to various food banks we realized that this type of recruitment would best be done in person. We decided to stand outside of City Market grocery and approach individuals hoping that one or more of them would be participating in the SNAP program. We spoke with three individuals who fit our criteria, and we were successful in setting up one interview. We found our two other participants through friends of friends, and though they weren’t participating in SNAP, they were both single individuals living on a teachers’ salary.

We conducted the three interviews in the homes of our participants by first reflecting on the journaling exercise we had them fill out beforehand. We had asked them to write down their experiences selecting, preparing, and consuming one meal that week. How had they felt before the meal, what were they thinking about during the meal, how did it make them feel afterwards, etc. This exercise served to jump start the discussion about their personal experiences with food and inspire interesting conversation around their unique reality. About half-way through the interview we transitioned into speaking about their ideal food experiences by introducing our participants to an ‘Experience Canvas’. An Experience Canvas is a large board with a set of image and word stimuli prepared to help articulate an ideal experience. We asked our participants to look through the stimuli and speak about the one’s that do, and do not articulate this ideal. Jonathan and I taped these words and images to the canvas as we asked them questions about each one that they chose, careful not to refer to the images by describing what we thought they were, but by calling them by the numbers that cataloged them. In this way our participants could describe to us what the images meant to them without our descriptive influence.

Upon reflection, we found the journaling exercise to be an incredibly effective way of inspiring our participants to share their story with us. The canvas was less effective, maybe because we were all getting tired by the end of the interview, or maybe because we had so many words and images to chose from that they felt overwhelmed. The words and images, however, did serve to help articulate some desires and difficulties that may have not come up otherwise. For instance, we found that all three people responded negatively to the image of a rabbit in a hat. Relating food to magic or a card trick most likely wouldn’t have come up in normal conversation, but it served to further articulate a general desire for food to be “real”, or easy to understand. Jonathan and I also realized that we followed the ‘script’ too tightly in the interviews. We forgot to be curious about asking our participants to show us their kitchens, or food preparation methods. We didn’t document many artifacts other than the video of our conversations, and this was a missed opportunity.

Going into the next phase of research we will be drawing upon the themes that we’ve synthesized from these participant interviews. I’m particularly interested in the desire for food to strengthen camaraderie and connection with others as well as allow us to maintain control of our lives. These themes have led me to focus on researching the food behaviors of teenage girls. Jonathan is going to look at individuals experiencing obesity.

Jonathan will be posting our research presentation on the blog shortly. Please let me know if you have any contacts that could help Jonathan in his research on obesity, or Diana and I in our research on young women from the ages of 12 through 19!

Twitter – @cheyenneweaver