karl-cart-IMG_6469Using design research to spur innovation, our approach is to investigate communication strategies that leverage Leimert Park’s cultural assets, historical roots, and economic fabric. (For details, see our vision statement.) The tactics described below lead to our prototypes.

Prototype early and often. In the first stage, several prototypes will be investigated and pitched to the community. We believe the best questions and take-aways will come from hands-on experimentation, especially for the local needs of your community. We will demonstrate how to do embodied design, incorporate game elements, and align with social science research on neighborhood storytelling. Come see our method in action.

Pilot Period of 5 Weeks. We propose a pilot collaboration for 20-30 artists and graduate students that will run for 5 weeks. The course will meet every Wednesday evening at the USC Innovation Lab and every Saturday afternoon at the Kaos Network facility. The class will consist of USC students in technology and media programs as well as local artists and youth groups associated with the Kaos Network. The class will be co-taught by USC experts in technology design and business innovation, along with neighborhood organizers and artists with deep expertise in neighborhood strengths, culture and strategy.

8577469369_5a49fba391_bTools. Our priority is on low-cost software, hardware and game-based tools for design. These include OpenVBX, how to purchase used payphones and parts, transmedia game design for SMS, and embedding hardware like the Raspberry Pi. We will also describe how participatory design is different with physical installations, and how partnerships can be structured to sustain the collaboration.

Can the design be authentic and participatory? This design research is co-led by community partners, local artists and University scholars. One anchor is the Kaos Network headed by Ben Caldwell, which hosts the world’s longest-running hip hop “open mic.” Another is the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab.