Finding the Gap

For the past week I’ve been running circles in my head about the Coordinated Assessment (CA), wondering if it’s benefiting individuals experiencing homelessness or if it’s perpetuating people’s homelessness for longer than necessary. The Coordinated Assessment is a 50 question test that evaluates an individual experiencing homelessness’ vulnerability while living on the street; their “likelihood of dying”. The idea is that with this standardized assessment the right resources can be effectively and efficiently directed to the right individuals. The test  presents itself as serving the popular of homeless in the same manner as an emergency room serves their population. An emergency rooms will prioritize who to treat as they come in the doors, the most vulnerable at the top of the list and those with less severe issues are deprioritized. The CA does the same thing, it prioritized those who are most likely to die on the streets, and the others who could survive on the street for a little while longer are deprioritized.

Coordinated Assessment also claims that it saves the government money by housing the ‘most costly individuals to the state’. An individual that is costly to the state will accrue the most costs in two budgets: emergency room visits and incarceration. An individual may visit an emergency room because of accidents or general sickness, these costs since the individuals cannot pay them back fall to the state. An individuals is also likely to be take into jail while experiencing homelessness as well due to any number of reasons. By housing an individual, they have fewer emergency room visits and are less likely to become incarcerated. By reducing the number of individuals experiencing homelessness, the state then will see a reduction in these two budgets. This cost efficiency was part of the City of Austin’s motivation to implement the CA in the first place.

When we spoke with actual individual’s experiencing homelessness, we found the CA is doing what it was designed to do. It saves the state money and it houses those most likely to die on the street. One of these individuals we spoke with took the CA and scored high enough to be placed in a program offered by ARCH called “Rapid Rehousing”. This is a program designed to take those that are most likely to die on the street and put them in whatever housing facility the caseworker can find as soon as possible. So he was able to be housed within in a few weeks after taking the assessment. In his case, the CA was able to get him in contact with the individuals he needed to receive his housing. For individuals like him, the CA is working.

We also spoke with a woman who is staying at the Salvation Army with her child. She’s been there for 60 days, she’s only allowed to stay there for 90 days. As her time there is coming to an end, she’s been furiously thinking about what she will do next. This women has taken the CA, but she did not scored high enough to qualify for any program that would put her into immediate housing. Based on the CA’s judgement, she should be able to survive out on the street a little while longer. She’s healthy, young, working, has no drug issues, mental health issues, or criminal record, all of these things for the CA support the claim that she can self resolve. In reality, she feels she cannot self resolve and that she doesn’t have any other options after she is let go from Salvation Army.

Previously I keep comparing the two stories, the women who is facing the loss of so much in her life because she’s too healthy/clean/high-functioning to qualify for rapid rehousing, and the man who almost haphazardly received housing after being convinced to take the CA. How can there be a system in place that gets both individuals housed? You can’t dismissed either individual’s needs to be housed, but through a series of questions the CA prioritizes their needs.

I came to something of the conclusion that there is a gap of individuals who aren’t being served by the CA. The individuals who are too high functioning are within this gap. ARCH and the CA are meant to serve those who most ‘need’ housing based on who will die on the streets, but there are others who aren’t seen as ‘needing’ housing because their not in a high enough state of vulnerability.These are the individuals who aren’t being served in the current system. I believe Garrett and I can design for these individuals.

Divergent Thinking & Storyboarding

Previously within our Rapid Ideation class we worked on creating a concept map for the AT&T mobile app. This illustrates how the app functions and how various pieces of the app are connected together. When I was going through each screen to pick up these sections and their connection, I noticed a lot of overlap. From any screen you could practically do all the same things. There was no distinctions of actions when going to the “Plan” page from the “Usage” page. This thought stuck with me as we continued to develop our flows.

After we created our concept map we narrowed our scope of work based on user research. Instead of working on the full app’s abilities we were just going to focus on the top six activities our user research highlighted:

  • Viewing the Plan/usage
  • Changing the Plan
  • Suspending service
  • Paying a Bill
  • Setting up Autopay
  • Changing the password

After establishing these activities, we practice divergent thinking and applying this to the AT&T app to create a new experience. I used the “random word” method as a jumping off point. I developed a list of around 50 words then started pulling in various ones to begin generating ideas. I also started imagining how I wanted the app to feel like, to imagine the experience I wanted it to design. From this point I knew I wanted less pieces on the screen to declutter it and I knew I wanted to create something with specific direction for each page. With this filter, I began to envision a whole new experience for phone service providers. What if, a customer set their own plan amounts, rather than selecting preconceived amounts. What if the app created a recommended plan based off your usage, so the customer never has to go over. What if when you cancel your service you were allowed 24 hours of free service, incase you need your phone again. What would happen if you could just use your fingerprint instead of a passcode, or if you didn’t have to have the passcode at all? Each of these ideas were filtered through the notion of creating an app that would generate a more usable experience and lessen the burden of options. Some of these ideas were worked into my flows, but some were cut. 

When practicing divergent thinking methods, I realized my brain, like most others, will rapidly disregard more outlandish and inconceivable ideas. It is more likely to perceive a divergent idea as not possible more so than possible. When practicing divergent thinking it was hard to get away from ‘normal’ methods of thinking, but it wasn’t impossible. In the future I’ll have to be more cognizant of when I prematurely disregarding ideas.

After developing these ideas of how the app should work, we began storyboarding. The challenge here was to create stories that weren’t too complicated, but still illustrated the screens and flow of the new app. The stories were fun and simple and they made me focus on what I wanted on each screen. I had to go back to my original ideas and rework how and where I wanted to implement them into this new app. This was the first time the app making felt more solidified for me. Ultimately when creating flows, the narrative took a backseat to illustrating my ideas of how the app should look and how a user would interact with it. Illustrating these ideas made my concepts more permanent and helped me easily identify holes. 

When looking at the skills in this class I’ve already started applying them in the Studio class, where Garrett and I are diving into Affordable Housing in Austin. We’ve created concept maps to better understand the systems and players of the space. It felt productive to draw out all the players and their connections to different aspect. To finally see all the pieces and relationship I was holding in my head was profound. It also greatly helps our audience understand the relationships and players of the space when we are presenting our findings. 

I’m excited to pull both the divergent thinking and storyboards into the Affordable Housing space too. I know divergent thinking will come in handy when ideating about the possible solutions for Affordable Housing. The systems in place in the Affordable Housing sector are broken, divergent thinking will help to bring in new life and hopefully solve a few of the issues. Storyboarding will also help myself and the audience communicate better. Once we have an idea, when I illustrate it, then my audience can better understand it. I’m excited to pull in these new skills into a space like Affordable Housing, to see what new systems or process can be applied to it.

Affordable Housing Update- Week 4

This past week Garrett and I have been going to the ARCH and speaking with individuals around the outside of the building about their experiences with housing in Austin. This was the first time in my life that I was actually asking individuals experiencing homeless to tell me their stories. I’ve worked with this population in the past, but never in this capacity. We’ve interviewed around eight individuals outside of the the ARCH over this time, for this post I’ll focus on David’s story.

David was part of the post- Katrina evacuation from New Orleans (NO). He’d been in NO since 1987, the year right after he finished college. During that time he keep a steady job, he had a fiance and daughter, and he started to develop some alcoholism and substance abuse issues as well. He fiance keep the roof over his and his daughter head.

In 2005 when Katrina hit, David spoke of such disaster I couldn’t fathom the experience. He said the water reached 18 feet where he was, there were “bodies floating in the water”; and they left a lot of people in the retirement homes. David felt “there was nothing left in New Orleans” after Katrina.

A few days after Katrina hit, FEMA picked him up on a bus and took him to the NO airport. There he only experienced more trauma. The airport was over crowded with what felt like millions of people, there was fecal matter everywhere. At that time the US government sent in regional police forces and some kind of militarized units, which David politely referred to as “red necked police”.

David arrived at the airport at 7am on his first day, then by 5am the next he was in a military equipment aircraft headed to somewhere else. He said he was chained on the plane, the experience was ‘dehumanizing’. No one was told where the plane was headed until they were 20 minutes into the flight, when there was a overhead speaker that said “Houston is at capacity, we will be flying to Austin instead”.

The aircraft arrived at Camp Mabry, David and the others on the flight were welcome by Austin’s then mayor, Will Wynn. From then on out, it was a total party. As he explained it, they were offered every service available after that, from $1,500 from FEMA to free food and drinks offered at the Austin Convention Center for individuals. He said all the volunteers were pleasant and helpful in getting him what he needed.

After arriving in Austin his Fiance managed to find him an apartment in Rungberg, where he lived for 2005 –  2008. During this time there were two key aspects of his life that David highlighted. First it was the fact that FEMA keep paying for his electricity bill. Secondly he had three ladies living with him to cover the expenses such as rent and water. These ladies all of which were into illegal substances, David also partook. At some point, he began using the money from FEMA to purchase the drugs, this lead him to no longer have electricity. He also at some point kicked out one of the ladies who was living with him, and be believes she then told the authorities that he was not using the FEMA money for his electricity bill. FEMA then sent someone to inspect the house, when the inspector saw he wasn’t keeping the electricity on, FEMA gave him a charge againsts the misuse of funds. David found a service in Austin that would pay for his ticked from FEMA, but David was five minutes late to his appeal and by that point it was too late, the damage had been done.

After that David found himself out on the streets, “my first week of being homeless happened on Obama’s inauguration”. He spent the first week around ARCH, but didn’t see any services. After his first week, David realized how dangerous it was to be on the street, so he started sleeping inside the ARCH.

David spent from 2008 to 2016 on the streets, during the day he would get food from a variety of sources; the Trinity Center, Caristas, ARCH, Mobile Loaves and Fishes or “any place will feed you if you tell them you’re hungry and homeless.” David’s substance issues only increased during this time, he said he would drink a 12 pack of Lonestar tallboys a day.

Around a month ago, David had finished his tallboys and he “got in a fight with the concrete”, which he lost. He ended up being taken to Brackenridge hospital, where they found his arm had been broke. While in the hospital he took the Coordinated Assessment test. This test is meant to figure out the probability an individual has of dying on the streets. Davis scored very high on this test, he scored so high that he was able to be put in the rapid rehousing program. This meant that David would be housed in a first avaliable situation, then any other barriers he’s working on, would be worked through later. Since David’s accident, he’s been living in an apartment supplied to him by ARCH. He continued to go to the ARCH for community and for regular check ins with his caseworker.

David’s story challenged my notions of what happened after Katrina, his experience was completely new to me. He said part of his trauma manifested into PTSD afterwards. I can’t understand what that would feel like, but I can try to empathize. The second surprising piece was how long David had experienced homelessness, from 2008 -2016. 8 years of life outside on the street. During this time he learned so much about the ongoings outside of ARCH. He spoke about them a little during our interview. Specifically how the police come 30 times a day, all just as scare tactics. David was also well liked by many, several times throughout the interview people would stop and speak with him, each with a good natured hello and how you doing? The ARCH was where David found community. I wonder how he copes with leaving his community behind after he moved. Did he experience guilt for leaving others behind? Questions I can’t help but think of now, after the interview. David was a fascinating individual, I hope our project does him and his story justice.

Affordable Housing in Austin

Over the past three weeks, Garrett and I have been conducting research in the Affordable Housing sector of Austin. We decided to pursue this topic for our full 24 weeks project. We both have a ties to the housing and development industry in Austin, and each of us are drawn to the chaos and complexities of Austin’s housing market.

Thus far, we’ve spoken with two individuals who are living in Affordable Housing, one individuals who is a caseworker and one Executive Director who runs an Affordable Housing nonprofit. It feels like a well rounded group. The users give a first hand experience of what its like to search and find Affordable Housing. The casework explained their understanding of the systems of housing in Austin, ranging from the vouchers they can use to the money the City of Austin gives them for their work. Finally the Executive Director had explained his organization’s service, legislation around the Community Land Trust method, and has reached out to his residents to see if families are open to being interviewed.

In gathering all of these experiences and expertise we’ve come to find that Affordable Housing in Austin is a many faceted space. There are innumerable players, guidelines and rules. The key players include: all levels of government, commercial and nonprofit developers, landlords, neighbors, nonprofits, mortgage banks, real estate agents, caseworkers, and finally the users themselves.

Guidelines and rules mostly seem to be decreed by the government. The City of Austin plays a key role in where development happens through zoning regulations. The city also owns a number of plots in and around Austin that have been sold and later used for Affordable Housing. Finally, they also give a certain dollar amount to different nonprofits to help get individuals housed.

Its odd to see just how diverse a role of  the government plays in the housing sector. I never expected their role to be so dual; they can give land to organization and they have the ability to determine how that land is used. The most astonishing part is that if a neighborhood doesn’t want affordable housing in their neighborhood, then the government can essentially shut down a development project on behalf of the neighborhood if needed. Learning all of this has just made me realize we need to speak with someone from the city to see how they navigate this role.

As we continue into this space I feel like we have a relatively good handle on the players and space of Affordable Housing. I think we need to start keeping track of all the acronyms we hear and what they stand for, so all can reference it when needed. I also want to challenge myself to create an artifact that displays all the roles and relationships that are established in the Affordable Housing sector. I image it would be helpful when explaining the role of each entity. I’d like to have a draft of this by next week.


#TeamBritishTofu – Farmhouse Delivery

For the past three weeks, Elijah, Sally and I have been exploring the service offered by Farm House Delivery (FHD). They offer a weekly produce drop off to customers’ houses or places of work. The key to FHD is that all their produce and artisan products are sourced and produced in Texas. They “partner with local farmers and ranchers to deliver the highest-quality, sustainably produced food to [their] customers’ doors.”

We chose this organization because we are passionate about local produce and food production. With Farmhouse Delivery’s scrappy set-up and start-up culture we felt we could make a real impact.

Below is our timeline for the project, with our current placement.

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 9.55.09 PM

For our research we spoke with four new customers and three past users. We asked the new customer to sign up for the service and speak to all the pain points they experienced. This activity is called the “Think Aloud Protocol”. With this we were able to get the step by step progression of this process. For past users we spoke with them about their experience with FHD and how they felt about the service.

We synthesized this research to create a customer journey map. The purpose of this was to aggregate all of the pieces of a complex service into one cohesive artifact that is easily and wholly comprehendible. This kind of artifact allows us, as designers, to see the entire service delivery process at once, identify the pain-points, to find and test solutions.

Farmhouse Delivery Customer Journey v3

Within our customer journey map, we drew out the entire experience, from new customer sign up to new recurring customer.  Then we fleshed this out with our customers’ data, adding quotes, emotions and most importantly pain points. Over all the pain points are oriented towards a lack of communication between FHD and its customers.

The first part of our customer journey focused on the sign up process and flows. We saw a break down of communication when customers were trying to sign up and begin to receive their vegetables. During this process there lacks clear instructions for the different screens, thus leaving customers feeling flustered.

The second part of our customer journey map displays the reoccurring delivery and pick up process that Farmhouse provides. Within this cycle we discovered a signifiant disconnect between Farmhouse’s mission and its customer. Key to Farmerhouse’s service is providing a connection between the farmers and the eaters. When interviewing past customers, we learned that, instead of experiencing their food as directly coming from the farm, they experience it as solely from the bin. They cannot see the food’s whole story. The risk of farming and the delicacies of sustainable food production are not coming across to the customers.

The final major break down is food waste. Past customers spoke of not cooking or eating enough of the produce before it went bad. The break down occurs when there is no channel for customers to communicate their feedback or critique to FHD about the service they offer.

Below is our final Design Brief:

Farmhouse Delivery (Actual State) Design brief Blog Version


Throughout this process we have felt that collaboration through externalization has been the most beneficial and key component to building momentum. We used this technique when creating the customer journey map, the Design Brief, the photo journey map, this blog post and the war room. When we did this technique, we found it takes more time to have three people’s attention pointed toward one task, but it creates a more thorough document that captures the diversity of perspectives. Collaboration has proven much more effective than “divide and conquer,” a technique that is quick but ultimately discombobulated.

Within the coming week, we plan to asses and create the customer journey map for the perceived state, and to compare the two maps together. We’re looking forward to speaking with current customers and hearing their perspective on the service.


Affordable Housing Space

Garrette and I have decided to focus on Affordable Housing for our 24 week project. To gain a better understanding of that space, we spoke with my father. He has worked in the Affordable Housing Industry in Austin for over ten years. He gave us great insight into what the space looks like, from the role of the local, state and federal government to the naming a few of the variety of nonprofit and for profit affordable housing resources.

He described the affordable housing space as have two ends, on is rental and the other is Homeownership.  In between those two ends are Community Land Trusts and Shared Equity models. Community Land Trusts and Shared Equity models work so, a company or city will own the land, but they sell the houses to low income families. Since these families don’t purchase the land, the home themselves are much more affordable.This is a fairly new model of Affordable Housing to Austin. It was first implemented by the Guadalupe Community.  Shared Equity uses a similar model.

An example in Austin of a Shared Equity model is the Mueller Community. Within that neighborhood there are affordable housing units both for sale and for rent. The way the Mueller Community works, that the second mortgage for an affordable home, goes to the Mueller Foundation and not to the traditional source. The Mueller Community also does not sell the land to homeowners, but sells the home. They also have a retention incentive. Families who live in their homes every year get 2% of the overall appreciation of their homes if they choose to sell their homes.

These were only two examples of Shared Equity and Community Land Trusts in Austin, there are other projects, but these are the most well known. To me, knowing these are so new, it makes them more enticing over more traditional methods such as rent vouchers. Further in the research I hope we can speak with those individuals who can speak about their experience with Community Land Trusts and their distinctions from traditional Affordable Housing methods.

Concept Mapping, AT&T Mobil App

For our Rapid Ideation class we’ve been learning about Concept Modeling, specifically concept mapping. Concept Modeling is a practice for visually displaying difficult systems, so that the relation of all parts to the system are clearly identifiable. Concept mapping is an example of Concept Modeling, that has specific steps to its process as well as a defined structure. Concept maps only have two parts to their structure, nouns within circles and verbs as links between the circles. This allows for individuals to clearly see the parts of the system, as well as the relations between those parts. Below is the process used in designing a concept map for AT&T’s Mobile phone app.

  1. Create a list of nouns that are part of the app and its service
    • App, AT&T, Customers, Monthly Bill, Phone Plan, Device, Data
    • All total I had 33 nouns associated with the application
  2. Take the nouns and put them in a matrix.
  3. Compare each of them to their counter, asking “Do these two things relate to each other?” If they do put an x in the box, if not its left blank. Here is a link to download my finalized matrix, concept map
  4. The nouns are then taken as the circles in the map and verbs are added as the links between each. The nouns with the higher number of Xes are the core pieces to the concept map, because they have the highest number of relations to other parts of the system.
  5. After the first draft was sketched out, continued to revise and revisit the map until satisfied.

Below is my final version of the current state of the AT&T mobil app.



Hey What’s Up Hello: Research Reflection

For the past eight weeks Garrett and I have been conducting research, synthesis and a little bit of prototyping on the topic of short term loans. For the majority of this time we executed more research and synthesis than prototyping. We specifically conducted research around individuals who had taken out a short term loan, the events that lead to them taking it, and their emotional journey throughout that process.

We established a focus then, executed the actual research. We seeked out individuals who had already paid off their loans or were in the process of paying it back. We asked questions about the loan itself, their emotions around it and what their financial systems looked like.

We spoke with 9 different individuals. We transcribed their interviews, broke the transcriptions up by single phrases and pinned them to the walls. We then combed through all the phrases and looked for patterns. We were looking for similarities in the sentiments of the phrases. When patterns began to emerge, we would group those phrases together and label them with their sentiment. A few of our groups were as follows: “Feeling slighted by the loan”, “People feel guilty when they can’t follow through on paying off their debt”, “Working towards the american dream”. Each of these were overarching sentiments that were recurring statements in the individuals’ utterances.

After finding the themes, we then worked towards building insights. Insights are provocative statements of truth. For Garrett and I, the best way was for us to re read each quote, reivew the theme of the group, then find the sentiment behind those words or thoughts, and  construct them into a truth. Iterate on insights is key to finding the true meaning. Our final insights can be read within the presentation. Once we had our insight, we created the counter to them, the Design Principles. These are set up to be the frames with which prototyping takes place.

Now the I’ve completed the process of Research, Synthesis and Prototyping about four times it’s getting easier. Since the first three times were much more surface level, this time was far more detail oriented. I learned that I should search for participants far earlier, and that I should take their contact information instead of give them mine. I learn spending hours around the research feels comforting. I found making groups of the quotes creates a physical sense of productivity. I struggled with Design Principles and Insights, in knowing what was a good insight and what was a poorly constructed one. Now I feel I’m closer, but not perfectly in that space. Next quarter I look forward to doing the process again and learning even more.



Theory Assignment 4

For the final Design Theory class assignment, we had to do all the normal parts to the assignments, reading, synthesizing and creating a story. Though for this final round instead of just creating a comic, we had to create a video with a voice over on top of it. The narrative of my story was about a young girl name Mary who wants to attend a new school. She’s there visiting “The Design School” to see if she wants to pursue it further. When she arrives she’s greeted by a man named Mr. William. Who has told Mary she will be auditing some classes today to see if she likes them. As they attend each class they learn about a different piece from each reading. Below are each of the readings with an extended synopsis of its content. They also contain where in the narration these pieces take place.

The two sets of readings for the final assignment were covering the topics of “Being a Designer” and “Process”, there were three readings for each topic. First by Christ Pacione was “Evolution of the Mind: A case for Design Literacy”. This article drew parallels between Fibonacci’s technique of bring Math to the masses as the genius of bring Design to the public. Pacione argues that “design will have its greatest impact when it is no longer perceived to be in the hands of people who are professional designers and put back into the hands of everyone.” This concept of “Design for everyone” was the concept behind the “Design Thinking Light Course”, allowing all people have access to it.

The next article was Nigel Cross’, “Discovering Design Ability”. Cross believes a designer’s “design ability” can be defined by three characteristics, creative/intuitive ideas, the recognition that problems and solutions are interwoven and the use of sketching. Cross went on to explain and support each of these characteristics. The novelist of these ideas “Ordering Principles” as a metaphor for creative problem solving. To introduce a method of problem solving, Cross creates the imagery of a recipe. The problem has the prescribed recipe to fix it with all the normal methods. But to create a truly innovative solution, the designers must find the ‘missing ingredient’. This ‘missing ingredient’ is what Cross calls the “Ordering Principle”. Finally, Cross ends the article by explaining how Design is its own discipline and should be taught as such. Cross’ concepts were mentioned in the Design Thinking Light, Problem Solution Finding and Creativity course. Each touched on a different point from his article.  

The third article from the first set of readings was from Edward de Bono’s “Exploring patters of thought…Serious Creativity”. De Bono goes on to describe Lateral Thinking and two methods of how to encourage creative thinking in more day to day settings. De Bono explains that as humans we develop patters of thinking that make logical sense. To tap into a creative space for thought processes De Bono believes we must “cut across patters” that our brain has established through behavior. To practice “cutting across patters is not natural behavior for the brain” so De bono introduces two methods of how to change that, the “Six hat thinking system” and “random word”. Each of these techniques are catalysts for new creative thinking patters that are acceptable and easily accessible. The concept of lateral thinking, the six hats and random word are all concepts used in the creativity class Mary visits.

The next set of readings were all around process. The first was by Jocelyn Wyatt, “Design Thinking for Social Innovation”. Within the article Jocelyn highlights the discrepancies of products and processes if they aren’t designed with the user as the key point. The article continued to explain the process that IDEO uses: Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation. Wyatt explains that inspiration is the problem space, the area where there is motivation to create an improved system. Ideation is the part where research is synthesized, then the team draws insights that can lead to solutions. Finally, they implement the prototype, observe its success and failures then iterate on the idea. Wyatt then goes on to explain how each of these processes over lap and are more like phases rather than steps. The IDEO process is incorporated early within the Design Thinking Deep Class, as they need to go deep into the IDEO process and understand how the process works.

The second reading was Richard Buchanan’s, “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. Buchanan first defines the development of Design over the years, “from a trade activity, to a segmented profession to a field for technical research to what now should be recognized as a new liberal art of technological culture”. He highlights how drastically design has grown over the years and how it now embodies an array of subjects. To explain these new developments Buchanan then goes into what he describes as the Doctrine of Placements. In clarifying how design can be segmented into four frames: Communication, Industrial, Service/Actives and Thought. To him, each focus has its own specialty, over laps and builds off the others. He continues to say innovation occurs only when a designer views a problem from a different frame.

Buchanan then segues into wicked problems and poses the questions “Why are design problems indeterminate and, therefore wicked?” His answer is that Designers don’t have their own subjects beyond what the designer can conceive of. When applying this then to wicked problems, the designer must invent their own particular subject to solve. In creating their own problem and solution, the designer isn’t able to solve the whole issue, just the pieces they see most troublesome. Buchanan finishes the article by rearticulating his point that design and design thinking are changing our culture and becoming more widely accepted. Within the school, his ideas are sprinkled between the Problem Solution Finding and Wicked Problems 101.

The final reading was “Dilemmas in General Theory of Planning” by Horst W. J. Rittel. Rittel was writing at a time of great expansion, cities were being planned out to the littlest tree and he published this article as a count argument to extensive logistical planning. Rittel believe there were two pieces to each issue, goal- formulation and problem- defining. Goal formation has two methods within itself. First was a top down approach where the outcomes directed the overall success, and secondly was a more ‘feelings’ approach. Within the other half of Problem Defining, Rittel goes in depth about how efficiency and “output of actions” have been the guiding ideas about problems, and how planning solves these issues. But Rittel then goes on to say how some problems are not solved through this method. These problems are considered “Wicked Problems” by Riddel. These issues are “ill defied” and have no true right or wrong resolution. This leads to the 10 Principles of Wicked Problems. These are Rittel’s criteria for what is or is not a wicked problem. Rittel ends his article by emphasizing how individuals are affected by these wicked problems and every one can help solve them. Within the story, Rittel’s concepts are introduced in the Wicked Problems 101 course as well as the Problem Solution Finding course.

Each of these articles were challenging enough by themselves, but combined they took on a new role. The story ended with Mary speaking on a more personal level about Design as a profession to Mr. William. He then reassures Mary by saying even if she doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do with design, there are so many options of where to take it that she should feel comfortable in the decision to take on design no matter what. Mary takes these words to heart and ultimately decided to attend the Design School.


Here’s the link to view the video:

Hey What’s Up Hello, Scarcity and Chris

I focused my comic on two stories. First around scarcity and the second around a man name Chris.

Over the past two weeks we have been reading various articles about poverty and one stood out to me against all other. An article by Dean Spear’s that experimented between poverty and economic decision making.

In Spear’s “Economic Decision-making in Poverty Depletes Cognitive Control”, he makes the argument that poverty leads behavior. Spears through various experiments, finds a direct connection between those who must strain themselves more during economic decision (those in poverty) and their depleted cognitive resources. His experiments supported his initial claim, that poverty and its stresses follow behavior, rather than the reverse. 

Spears then touches on theories that offer explanations for his findings. One in particular was developed by Mullainathan and Shafir around scarcity. Their theory states that poverty is a form of scarcity. It is an aspect of an individual’s life that they find lacks. With this lack, the individual will focus the majority of their attention on those resources. Since attention is limited, this then leads to less attention or cognitive resources for other decisions that could potentially have a significant impacts on their future selves. The person’s attention is represented by the box, then the divides show how a person’s attention is directed. 


 We then paused and switched to the second aspect of the story, Chris. I meet Chris during our research for short term loans. When asked about his loan, we were able to reflect on what events had happened to lead up to the loan.

Chris has lived in Austin for three years now, he’s a high school English teacher, and he’s a father to a now, seven year old boy. In March of 2014, Chris and his partner separated.


They decided that for their son, the best option would be if he spent half his time with his mother and half his time with Chris.

Sometime in September of 2014, Chris was rear ended, and his car was totaled.


Chris then purchased a used car, and put money into the repairs of it. He was able to manage this through the money he received from the Insurance companies and his own savings.

Used Car

For the next year, his responsibilities were fairly manageable. He was able to see his son, he was working as a teacher, his life was good.

Around a year later, September of 2015, his car blew a gasket. Chris rapidly realized that the car was unsalvageable.


Chris then took a moment to reevaluate his expense. he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford to purchase new car, but he also knew he couldn’t survive without one. In order to maintain low expenses, he tried to rely on public transportation for one full month. 


He rapidly realized this was not a sustainable option. When Chris was taking the bus, he was hardly able to see his son. Logistically it didn’t work out during week for Chris to travel from his home, drop his son off at preschool then get back down south for his own job. By the end of the month, Chris had decided to purchase another used car. 

Used Car

To make this happen, Chris took out a loan from his 403b, a teacher’s retirement fund. This covered the costs of his purchase. Though, since this was a used car, he had to pay for the repairs too. This sent him over his financial edge, and he had to cash a check from Longhorn Finance. A short term loan company.


At this point we paused again, to connect back to the theory on attention. To reflect back, we find Chris focused his attention on the scarcity of money up until a point. For the majority of this timeline, he is focusing his attentions on money and his scarcity of it. 


His separation, purchasing a second car, and the breakdown of that car, captivated his attention the most due to their direct correlation to his monetary scarcity. When he focuses on money, he makes the decision to use public transportation. This decision leads to his new scarcity, time with his son. 

Chris then focuses on increasing that time, rather than his money. With this increased attention on his son, we see a change in Chris behavior. He no longer bases his decisions on his money, but rather on his son and time he can spend with him.


That is why he purchases the third car. At this point, Chris isn’t look to solve any issues other than that of seeing his son. Chris’ decision to purchase the third car, isn’t based on the scarcity of his money, but on the scarcity of time with his son. That decision then leads to other issues later on in Chris’ life, but those aren’t pertinent enough to weight down is spirits.

To end on a happy note, Chris knows the gravity of his situation, and he knows he can work through this and come out stronger in the end.