Design to Engage

Team: Amanda Geppert, Janice Wong, Hellen Wills, Maggee Bond, Alisa Weinstein, Diego Bernardo

Design to Engage (former Good News Engine) was a strategic design research and social innovation team project resulting from a Design Research workshop at the IIT Institute of Design, taught by Prof. Vijay Kumar, and co-orchestrated by Amanda Geppert.


The initial goal for the project was to develop an inclusive, participatory communication platform capable of fostering connectedness and caring amongst members of the greater Englewood community, in Chicago, using a multi-channel approach – both analog and digital. Solution(s) solicited and disseminated good news and other information of value to the community, in order to create emotional and economic value.

The team worked in close partnership with the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE), supported by Asiaha Butler and Latesha Dickerson, who provided feedback and insights during design sessions.


Throughout the partnership we developed social intervention activities to elicit conversation and give residents a voice about topics like education, learning and aspirations for the community. One of them happened during the Englewood Education Empowerment Summit 2013, where our team deployed interactive artifacts like a photobooth, a conversation pylon, a message wall and a map inviting participants to leave their nametags close to the location where they live.

Englewood Education Empowerment Summit 2013

On March 19th we deployed a self-standing chalkboard and a sandwich board at the intersection of Halsted and 63rd and invited people to write down their opinions about what they would like other people in Englewood to know, physically written and/or using twitter. The objective was to test what kinds of messages (positive and negative) we should expect coming from more open-ended settings and what sorts of things people would want to talk about. The initial hypothesis about noise and negative language was confirmed, mixed with many positive voices from the community. The chalkboard and the sandwich board remained at the intersection for 5 days.


Photo Mar 22, 11 55 57 AM

The sandwich boards invited people to answer the question on Twitter.

In addition to the public installations our partners helped us to spread prompt notebooks throughout the neighborhood inside local shops, hair salons and laundromats. Stories, memories and conversations were captured and were shared back with the community during an analysis workshop.


On March 30th the team did a participatory workshop with community members about communication tools for public engagement (Design to Engage). Design activities provided opportunities for residents and local leaders to share knowledge, resources and ideas about their neighborhood.


On April 27 we deployed a curated version of the chalkboard at the same location the previous version was deployed. This version included all positive comments collected during the 5 days the board was out on the streets. The board displayed original handwriting and included a short description about the project. The curated board remained at the intersection of 63rd and Halsted during 3 days.


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