Design Development with AUP

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recycled sea

Table of Contents and

recycled sea an exploration in recycling systems in public schools

Minji Kang, Sara Mavec, Afiya Owens, Christine Pak, Andrea San Buenadventura February-May 2011

Introduction Background on AUP & Bushwick Week 1: February 9th Players Map Systems Map Meeting Week 2: February 16th Week 3: March 9th Week 4: March 23rd Week 5: March 30th Week 6: April 6th April 25th Ads for CAPtain CoDesign Week 7: April 27th Process Map Finished Mural Conclusion

1 2 3 5 6 7 9 11 13 17 19 25 28 29 34 35 36


For our Design Development class at Parsons in the spring of 2011, we were given the task of improving the recycling at the Academy of Urban Planning. AUP is a high school at the Bushwick Campus in Bushwick, Brooklyn. AUP is considered a recycling champion school according to the GrowNYC program, but our findings showed that there was still work to be done and room for improvement. While there are recycling bins in place around the school, many students, and even teachers, neglect them. Throughout our eight visits to AUP, we learned from our students and assessed the recycling situation at the school. With our group of sophomores, we worked to remedy the nonchalant attitudes towards recycling in the school community. The Academy of Urban Planning is located at the Bushwick Campus School in Bushwick, Brooklyn. AUP has a total of 427 students, mostly using the fourth and fifth floors of the building. The building also houses the Bushwick School of Social Justice and the Academy of Environmental Leadership. Bushwick’s population in 2007 was 129,980, 38.9% of that population was foreign born. There is a large community of immigrants from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic that live in the neighborhood. In 2008 the neighborhood’s median household income was $28,802. 32% of the population falls under the poverty line, making Bushwick the 7th most impoverished neighborhood in New York City. Over 75% of children in the neighborhood are born in poverty. Figures from the NYC Department of Education indicate that the high school dropout rate in Bushwick is close to 70%. 1


Week 1: February 9th This was our first trip visiting AUP in Bushwick, Brooklyn. We met Adam Schwartz, who teaches an elective science course for 10th graders. He told the students that we were going to be their partners for the semester and we all introduced ourselves to the class. He then assigned students to our group, but we only had three students, so our group had three AUP students and five Parsons students. Adam had the whole class work on an upcycling project, lead by his assistant, Stevenson, who is a senior at AUP. Stevenson has done previous work with Adam to try to improve the recycling habits of the school community. Stevenson showed the class how to strip the casing off ethernet wires and to use the colored wires inside to make a bracelet by braiding them together. We worked on this througout the class time. The students seemed to like working on a hands on project, and a few wore their creations out of the classroom. After class was over, Adam encouraged us to walk around the school and take note of the recycling system that was in place. However, our self guided tour was not incredibly informative as we didn’t know what floors were considered to be a part of AUP, and had difficulting finding the cafeteria and other key areas.


Photos from the first visit to AUP. Adam Schwartz shares his enthusiasm about recycling with his sophomore science students. Walking around campus proves that recycling and trash disposal is inconsistant and often done incorrectly in classrooms.


Systems Map

Players Map Taxpayers

pay money to Parents

send their kids to

Federal Government which funds

Bushwick Campus School

which employs

Prinicples Teachers & Counselors Secretaries Custodians Security Guards

operates AUP BSSJ AEL educates Students in grades 9-12, totalling near 1,500 students in the building



Meeting with Emily & Jessica Emily and Jessica suggested creating issue cards showing visuals to the students of our observations and pinpoint exact issues from the tour. They proposed to use service design tools to see how to create maps and diagrams that will help us advance insights from our research in order to generate ideas and plans of our action. Above all, our group needed to be clear about user lists. For the recycling project for AUP, we could find successful models and other recycling stations outside of USA to create good visual maps with better and consistent signs.

“We don’t have recycling or garbage bins in the hallways because people knock them over.” -Saqon

things to ponder: recycling systems elsewhere (successful like South Korea), what can we learn from these? how to make signage consitent and more visable, will this encourage more recycling? “Free for All: Food Fights” reading shows the complex system that the public school operates in; is it possible to provide a recycling system that is taxpayer approved? when did we learn the importance of reycling? how did it become apparent? recycling study done in University of Minnesota dorms: observed recycling patterns, showed where improvement was needed, after successful pilot program in one resident hall, soon became standard in all resident halls across the university, dramatic increases in recycling how do we empower the kids, allow them to set an example for their peers and teachers? 7

why don’t students respect their school building?

Successful implementation of recycling bins on the University of Minnesota campus, and across South Korea.

“Wrong bins, wrong signs. Kids just throw things everywhere.” -Shelly


Week 2: February 16th This week we toured the campus again, but this time with the students as our guides. This tour proved to be much more useful than our first, as the students shared insights about their environment and day to day lives in the school that we could not intuit. The students spoke of how dirty their school is, and how most students hardly throw their own trash away, let alone care about recycling it. The students shared that the cafeteria is somewhere they consider a place that could have a lot of potential improvement, as it is used by all the schools within the building. They showed us that in classrooms trash was often in the recycling bins, if they teachers had the bins at all. Stevenson said that him and Adam had made about 40 recycling bins and distributed a comingled bin and a paper bin to every class room and office in AUP the year before, but many had gone missing. Students pointed out that the bins were often mislabeled, if they had the signage up at all. The most successful room we saw was room 514, which is another classroom of Adam’s. We asked the students if they recycled at home, and only Tyrone knew his parents recycled. Stevenson said he was trying to get his parents to see the value in recycling, but was having trouble making it a habit. The rest of the students said their parents simply had no concern for reycling in their home.

“People won’t change until it affects them.” -Tyrone 9

Students showed us the cafeteria, which is used by all students at the Bushwick campus. There were small signs in poor locations that shared stats about recycling, but students said nobody read them. Classrooms were inconsistant with placement of bins and signage, if they had them at all. 10

Week 3: March 9th On our third visit to AUP we were given a tour by Adam and the students. Adam introduced us to the secretary who told us that the cardboard boxes that they get delivered to the school would be given to Adam to use. He took us around AUP which is the fourth and the fifth floor. As we were walking the halls of AUP we met some teachers who were happy to show their bins for recycling, and bottle bins. While we were exploring we came across some bins that had the wrong trash inside. After the tour Adam left us to discuss amongst ourselves our plans and our future project. During our discussion we decided to communicate with Facebook by making a group. We also gave the students a journal and an assignment for next week. We asked the students what’s the major problem within the school and where do they want to focus on. All the students agreed that they want to focus on the cafeteria. So, the students led us to the cafeteria and got permission to look around the “lunch line.”As the students were giving us a tour we noticed the 8 x 11 signs of recycling as well as facts about recycling. We saw the ineffectiveness of these signs but one sign was unique then the rest of them. One sign that read “500 students recycling juice or milk cartons for one school year saves 14 trees.” We thought that this would be a good project to work on as the signs does not do anything. We thought that by having this sign as well as a visual of it would impact the students and struck them. Prototype #1. We told Adam of what we did and the project that we had thought of . Adam said it was a good idea and by next week there would be some milk cartons collected to work on. Our inspiration was while Adam was giving us a tour we met another teacher who collected bottle caps in the Bronx to give to help for the surgery. This is because bottle caps were part of the process for the surgery.

Later, Adam shared with us that it would be very difficult to collect this many milk cartons, and it would be a hygiene concern, as the milk cartons would have to be throughly washed as to not produce a smell. 11

“I’d expell the cafeteria.”

-Julio, a student who set up a recycling report card system for the school

The cafeteria is used by all three high schools that occupy the building; The Academy of Environmental Leadership, The Academy of Urban Planning, and The Bushwick School for Social Justice. The cafeteria is the place that our students cited as having the most room for recycling improvment, as well as an area that all students in the building use equally.


Week 4: March 23rd At 10 am we met Rob Lock of Grown NYC and he asked us questions about what we’ve done so far, observed, expectations, goals, etc., while giving his own insight on our observances of general inconsistencies in the recycling system. He informed us that he is interested in and thankful for what we are doing and that he would visit as we progress into the project. Furthermore, he offered to provide us with extremely valuable information and statistical data from the Grow NYC database. Adam expressed how he would approach the design for any poster/ installation/ design project that would visualize statistical data. He stressed the importance of making sure the message of “THIS AFFECTS YOU AND HAS TO DO WITH YOU AND YOUR ACTIONS” rather than “This is how many trees are put into the production of milk cartons in the cafeteria” if we are to do a such a project.

“You are what you throw away.” -Shelley

For the class session our group gathered into a room on the fifth floor where we verbalized opinions, discussed already proposed projects and brainstormed new ideas. Four new people came into the group. They may or may not be permanent members of the recycling group, as we believe Adam assigns students to groups on a first come first served basis. We are unsure of how this inconsistency will affect our group’s progress. The four students, however, were recycling advocates in their personal lives, knowledgeable and uninhibited in expressing their ideas and their opinions of what would and would not work. We did not have enough time left to observe the cafeteria with the students and pick a specific site. We explored the cafeteria by ourselves. In addition, we were able to establish a Facebook group for communication throughout the weeks.

“I want to create something that shows the effects of not recycling.” -Heidy, who was inspired by movies like WALL E to change her attitude towards recycling


Some images we shared with the students that visualize the effects of not recycling on wildlife. The photos above show the carcases of birds who have eaten so much plastic that it fills their stomach so they cannot consume their real food. We also showed images of stastistics being visualized in 3D forms, such as the boxes that represent the volume of water consumed in different countries around the world.



Shelley illustrates her “being buried in your own trash� concept

Julio and Heidy discuss what to make in the mural, the students look at their journals


Week 5: March 30th

Because of an all school assembly today, we only worked with three of our students. We had a brainstorming session with them and drew mock ups of what we could incorporate in th mural that we pan to have in the cafeteria. Last week we asked students to bring in bottle caps, but they brought none. We went around to the AUP classrooms with Adam and Rob Lock from GrowNYC to collect materials to work with. Adam also set up a bottle cap collection bin for us in his classroom. Mr. Lock is excited in the course we chose to pursue with this project. Our final project decisions were between making a sculpture and a mural and we chose the mural. For the mural we decided to make an outdoor scene of a tree made from plastic bags for the leaves, paper bags for the trunk, soda can tabs for a cow, and bottle caps to create a trash filled lake with fish and people. As of now we plan to have the fish split in half with trash spilling out and the people will be trying to escape. In the mural there will aslo be an affective messeage as Adam suggested last week, however we still need to come up with one that will persuade students to take recycling more seriously.

“Peer pressure causes people to not recycle. They’ll only listen if it’s somebody they respect.” 17

-Saquon on what stops his fellow students from recycling and how to motivate them to recycle

Visiting the trash area behind the schools proves to the students, as well as Adam and Mr. Lock recycling policies still need improvment


Week 6: April 6th

We started to piece together the recycled materials that we had collected with the students from the previous weeks. We managed to complete pieces of our mural. By the end of our class time, Julio had drawn the outline for our fish and tree and Stevenson had cut out the tree trunk and made branches to attach to it. Saquon, Tyrone and Heidy continued to glue bottle caps on the cardboard fish until they were all complete. Heidy even voluenteerd to go and collect more bottle caps from the classrooms on the fifth floor so they could finsih all the fish. When the fish were complete. they then worked on cutting out more leaves for the tree. The students were all very engaged for the duration of the class time, even those who usually expressed less interest in recycling.

“If we throw our trash in the oceans and fish eat our trash, and we eat the fish, we are eating our own trash.� -Shelley



“I want to increase thinking about recycling in this school, the community, and the world.�



Julio draws out the fish and tree trunks out of found cardboard.

Other students cut out the fish and tree while Julio fits more fish into what is left of the cardboard.


Our supplies with a finished fish in the foreground 23


April 25th Luckily, the school was still on Spring Break. This enabled Afiya and Andrea to get plenty of tasks done and make quick decisions in empty hallways. Mr. Schwartz has connections with the Janitor. Essentially we “broke into” the school this afternoon. He showed us possible sites around the school for the mural, because permission to place the mural in the cafeteria was difficult in such a short amount of time. We documented these along with measurements Site Options 1. A long bulletin board on the Fifth floor of AUP -High traffic for good exposure, but a risky place for bottle caps 2. An encased bulletin board on the second floor of the High School -Mid-low traffic, but protected for more permanency. This spot is also owned by Mr. Schwartz, with an installation on Bushwick Fires that he did from four years ago! 3. A small bulletin board in the middle of the cafeteria -Mr. Schwartz does not really have a say on what gets placed here and needs to go through people to secure permission With a little push from Mr. Schwartz we agreed that the enclosed bulletin board would be the best choice. Automatically after this decision, we gathered all of the spontaneously done mural pieces for inventory. Bottle-caps fell off like mad and we decided to bring the pieces home that night to reinforce with Gorilla Glue. We laid out all of the pieces in a 40 x 55 inch space on the hallway floor in front of The Green Lab. To our delight, all of the pieces, except for the tree, fit nicely into the space (with room for boxes of text and facts!) We thought of making the tree smaller to fit into the bulletin board, eliminating it completely, or just placing it on the wall beside the bulletin board. Proportionally, it was best as is. We decided to keep it.


It was decided to make a simple website to connect this project to a larger system and get people involved. It was apparent that this should somehow be made more accessible to the public. This is not just a random mural of bottle caps. There is a reason we are using bottle caps and plastic. There is a reason for the fish and the tree. How would people know this? There is a way for people to get involved. How could we educate them? How could we let high school students know what co-design is? How could we collect feedback? How could we continue to make these students to feel empowered even after the project ended? That was our mission. EMPOWERMENT. An online presence was the answer. After some random word associations…. bottle caps, plastic, trash fish, water, tree, branch, recycle, recycling, blue, white, blue gloves, green lab, Schwartzy, design, co-design, cap, captain, captain adam! CAPtainCoDesign was the final choice. Captain not only had the word ‘cap’ in it, but it represented leadership and dealt with our fish and water theme.


glues that failed to hold bottle caps on

Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away! Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S. On average, each one of us produces 4.4 pounds of solid waste each day. This adds up to almost a ton of trash per person, per year.

Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year!

mural pieces layed out on the floor


Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away! 1 billion On average, each one of us trees produces 4.4 pounds of solid worth waste each day. This adds up to of almost a ton of trash per paper person, per year. Plastic bags are and other thrown plastic away garbage every thrown into year in the ocean the U.S. kill as many A 60‐watt light bulb can be run for as 1,000,000 over a day on the sea amount of energy saved by recycling 1 creatures pound of steel. In every year! one year in the US,

Ads and stats to support our mural and encourage further involvement


Week 7: April 27th

At AUP, our group finished the tree and leaves for mural. When the students arrived, we pinned up the entire mural on the bulletin board on the second floor. We also pinned up text boards with interesting facts and statistics about how much we can save by recycling in general and on what can and cannot be recycled. We took photos of our AUP students with the finished mural. Our students felt proud of the art work and they seemed to like it very much. They enjoyed working with the recycled materials. Some students showed them to other teachers, and other students in the school looked at and tried to touch it when they were passing by the mural in the hallway. While doing this recycling project with AUP students, we got the larger vision of team process book that we are going to make. The mural project was very helpful for us and them to think again about recycling.



Heidy stops one of her teachers to show him the finished mural.


The students pick out their favorite statistics to put up with the mural.

A poster invites students to check out the website and gives credit to the AUP students who worked on the mural.


Process Map


Saquon, Tyrone, Stevenson, Heidy, Shelley and Julio with the finished mural.


Conclusion While our deliverable changed many times throughout our work with our AUP students, we believe in the end we created a tangible end product with our partners. We think this mural was an important project for the students to work on, as it made them articulate their views on recycling and question why the way things are the way they are in their school and community. We also learned a lot from this process, and have gained a better understanding of all the systems present in the public school system that often make progress difficult. We also improved our design thinking skills as we overcame many obsticles during our time at AUP. We learned to adapt to suggestions from Adam and our teachers, as well as the opposition of faculty at AUP and the reluctance of our students to take a stand for recycling. Another important aspect of this project was the positive relationships we developed with our students, and we hope our interactions with them will further encourage them to persue projects they are passionate about, whether it be with recycling or a another venture. If we could redo the project from the beginning, we would start the construction of the mural pieces sooner so that the students had more to show for their time. While we found our brainstorming and conversations with them enlightening, it would be nice for them to have more to show to their peers and teachers. Hopefully the mural we made together will create a positive impact on the attitudes about waste in the school for both students and faculty. Over time, we hope our message gets across and behaviors begin to change.


The completed mural on the second floor of the Bushwick Campus.


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