mycel - becoming growers
The focus of this project is to propose how novices could be empowered to grow food and to simplify the process of learning how to do so. Today most of us lack both knowledge and experience if we’d like to grow food, the typical contemporary lifestyle with busy schedules and travels don’t match well with vegetable gardening, there is a lack of both time and community.
I wanted to create a bottom-up, non-profit solution that could become real. Instead of focusing on innovation of something new, this project focuses on integration of the existing. The Solution is built upon pre existing financial and educational support structures but utilises and applies its strengths in new digital contexts.
The final proposal, Mycel, empowers people with a typical contemporary lifestyle who want to start growing food, by offering a format for A, learning how to grow food and B, enable them to go on vacation and find someone to water their garden and C finding relevant seed recommendations for their specific region. All these steps support a novice gardener enormously since the main hindrances are knowledge and time
This project is situated in northern Sweden, which is 2/3rds of the country with only a 10th of its population. The climate of the north demands its own type of gardening knowledge. What i saw was that, most knowledge that does exist is locked up within individuals. I asked myself how this knowledges might be unlocked and shared with others to learn from.
PROJECT Thesis MFA Interaction Design
TIMEFRAME 17 weeks
YEAR Spring 2020
SCHOOL Umeå Institute of design
- My novice and expert users for making this project possible.
- Special thanks to Mariana Mattson for suberb feedback.
- Actors Charlotte Andersoon and Jakob Maanmies
- My great tutor Marije De Haas
- The online gardening community for passionate engagement
with my project.
MFA THESIS REPORT
My report contain all details of my project from my user research and interview styles, methods and reflections on the future of Interaction Design as a field. Read my report here.
SUSTAINABILITY DESIGN AWARD WINNER
The golden seed is an award given to the graduating student with the highest form of sustainability work in the thesis project by the Climate group at Umeå Insititute of Design.
Article in Swedish here.
BEYOND HUMAN CENTERED DESIGN
Our societies are in desperate need of food production models which decrease c02 emissions and increase local resilience and ecological health. The overarching aim of this project is to increase small-scale local food production while also increasing the life quality of both ecosystems and humans. To reach this aim I have designed for behavioural change by co-creating with a community to form beliefs and rituals with respect to cultural tradition and local ecological circumstances, this project thereby lives in the intersection between life-centred design and social design.
If you want to read more about my thoughts on how and why we need to look beyond the framework of HCD please see this article.
My final result called Mycel is built upon a pre existing old study structure called study-circles. Mycel utilises its strengths as format of learning together with others, combines it with a match function and applies it in a modern digital context.By building upon this preexisting study-structure Mycel also makes use of a well established financial model to become a real product for people to use.
The final proposal is a service for finding others to learn with/from or for exchanging mutual favours, focused on vegetable gardening. It increases connections between local people and helps growers help each other.
Learn together: Simplify finding likeminded people to learn together with & offer an established and free structure on learning how to grow food.
Mutual favours made easy: Match people with specific practical needs to enable more people to grow food, find a Vacation Watering Companion for example.
Unlock & share local human knowledge: Format for adding, rating and describing how specific seeds/plants/methods have worked out in local conditions. Create a reliable database of information about how local ecological growing might be optimised and developed.
The signing-up starts as every login will, the user uses their personal Bank ID, this is the most secure way of digitally ensuring your identity in Sweden. It is used to ensure safety and commitment in Interaction with each other as well as to connect specific people to study-groups. This serves the backend as the study association needs to personal number of each participant to register study circles. Mycel does not have profile pages, personal photos etc and thereby confirming uses identity in a safe way is vital. It is a very intentional decision to not have profiles and it is to avoid creating a digital social media app, it aims to create IRL interactions rather than digital ones.
SIGNING UP PROCESS
The sign-up process guides the user through all features of the app where the user may add input. In this way it becomes easier for the user to immediately understand what this service is all about and even though the process takes a little time, it forces you to do “everything” you need to find matches close and the user becomes fully engaged in the digital service and community from the first moment.The signing-up process consists of 4 steps, the first on consisting of basic information and a rating of the users current experience/knowledge in gardening. The second step is to add
what the user want to learn about and what they knowledge they could share with others. Third step is to add what type of favours they are looking for/could offer others and the last and 4th step
is optional, here the user may add any preexisting experience of knowledge about local conditions of seeds/perennials/growing methods etc.
After a study circle is done there is a semi automated summary
of the study-circle based on the logging of each meeting
activities and the overall format. There are two complementing
questions to answer as well. This format is saved and may
be accessed and reused by any other group of people who
want to learn about a similar topic.In this was, knowledge is distributed from the micro to the macro community.
NUDGING ECOLOGICAL GROWING
The service is continually nudging the user to learn specifically about ecological growing methods. For example, once a learning group has formed the service will automatically reserve one leraning occasion for its preset ecological growing learning session. This is a guided group session where the service provides the facts and discussion questions in a pedagogical set format.