This post is about 2 Products that I recently presented for a midterm in the class Social Innovation Design Lab, which I wrote about here.
Social Innovation Design Lab is a class focused on building products for socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, and that teaches the fundamentals of Design Thinking as a framework for approaching this problem. Our class is focused on the challenge of helping individuals prevent, manage, and treat type 2 diabetes. We recently completed our midterm for the class, and proposed two product solutions to the design challenge.
The Veggie Truck
The first product, The Veggie Truck, aims to provide access to fresh, affordable produce for individuals in communities like Pacoima. Diet is a significant influencer in the development of type 2 diabetes, and in our visits to Pacoima we noticed that many people in the community were frustrated with the monetary, transportation, and cultural barriers to cooking healthy meals including produce. Fresh produce can be expensive compared to high-carb snacks with longer shelf lives, and for many families, completely altering the family diet is simply not economically feasible. Additionally, many of the individuals in Pacoima are first or second generation Hispanic immigrants. Many people reported that they are not familiar with recipes including the produce that is most available at the food banks they go to or the stores they shop at.
Inspired by the ubiquitous ice cream trucks that we found in Pacoima, we designed the Veggie Truck, which delivers fresh, affordable produce by driving around neighborhoods. The Veggie Truck also hands out easy recipes that utilize the produce purchased by the customer. Our goal is to work with food banks to reduce the cost of purchasing vegetables, and to use a model similar to ice cream trucks to keep the business profitable.
The second product, The Park, aims to create safe play spaces for children in largely unused areas. While visiting in Pacoima, we learned that the parks go mostly unused because of a fear of gang violence in those areas. In general, this led to many children not playing outdoors, except during recess time at school. The Park uses modular turf tiles to set up grassy areas outside of empty grocery store lots, laundromats, and other areas. There are camp-counselor-type employees responsible for overseeing the area, are parents can drop their children off at The Park free of charge. Our plan is to have the grocery stores and laundromats pay for the service, as it would give them a competitive advantage over their competitors.
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Ultimately, the experience of meeting with individuals in the community, analyzing the problems and opportunities that we saw, looking for uncommon areas of inspiration, working late nights to come up with and refine product ideas, building prototypes and presenting two solid first-draft products aimed at tackling the design challenge has been a highly rewarding experience. I am really looking forward to the next half-semester of refinement and development!