Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Environmental Design

First Advisor

Shawhin Roudbari

Second Advisor

Georgia Lindsay

Third Advisor

Michael Beitz

Abstract

The #OptOutside campaign used by popular lifestyle brand REI promotes the cause people should utilize their time and access to the natural landscapes to participate in outdoor activities. As this idea has become popularized and promoted, communities like Boulder, who maintain similar values of the outdoor lifestyle, have become a symbol for this ideology. But when we apply this narrative to the entire community, including the homeless segment, there exists a divide, where the weight of #OptOutside in a voluntary and recreational sense for everyone, is lost because it does not fit the ideas and values of the homeless population. The homeless segment is not separate from the larger population but employing a narrative such as this creates social exclusions which inherently promote a divide and discourage discourse on homelessness in the community. Developing and employing a design intervention focusing on social activism can call attention to this exclusive narrative and bring these ideas to the forefront, the goal being to rethink the way the discourse is conducted. Specifically the ways in which Krzysztof Wodiczko frames discussions on the roles of art and design can be utilized to create an alternative method in the design realm to engaging with issues in the built world. Utilizing these practices to frame this new methodology of creating conversation, my design intervention aimed to bring to light the outdoor narrative in Boulder which excludes the voice of the homeless population. These ideas are perpetuated through adoption of ideologies like that of the REI #OptOutside campaign which became a signifier of this divide in the intervention and subsequently the grounding theme. Utilizing practices such as interrogative design by Wodiczko, offer a new methodology for engaging with social issues like homelessness, as designers. As those designing the built word, finding new ways to engage with the issues which subsequently occur in our this world is critical to creating dialogue within communities and understanding varying perspectives.

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