A Quest for Empathy

Improving Ourselves and Others

Albert Yang
Feb 6, 2018 · 27 min read

First Week of February

This past week, Christie and I have been looking into the meaning of “empathy,” how it is prevalent within people’s lives (including ours), and how we can start to simply treat others better. This was sort of inspired by how we want to bring change in the way people interact with each other to be more positive. For me, the problem space stemmed off from my interest in conversational narcissism, which is when a person redirects a conversation to be about them rather than building off of what the other person was saying. It made me take a deeper look at how I talk to people, and how I love to talk about myself. For me, this project is about learning how to be a better person to both myself and the people around me.

For starters, we had to distinguish what it meant to be “empathetic” and what it meant to be “compassionate.” Empathy refers to understanding how others feel and know what they’re going through, whereas compassion includes the desire to help others in their times of need. Since the two are extremely close in meaning, I think it’s important to state that empathy is a sort of “first step” for us in understanding how we can be kinder to others.

We did some research on previous projects that dealt with a similar problem space, including Project Empathy (VR) and the Free Hugs campaign. Inspired by 12 Kinds of Kindness, Christie and I started off by performing small acts that made other people’s days just a little bit better.

February 6, 2018

Today, we went out into Oakland (Pittsburgh neighborhood) and stopped by two people wrapped in blankets on the sidewalk; their names are Chris and Richard. We were running some errands of our own, asked if they needed anything (we were right next to a Rite Aid and a Starbucks), and came back a few minutes later with their requests.

I’ve passed by countless homeless people in my walks, whether it be in San Francisco or Pittsburgh or Los Angeles, and this was actually my first time initiating an interaction with them. For my entire life, the idea that homeless people were dangerous or scary had been ingrained in my head. By simply saying “hello” and starting a short conversation was much easier than I had expected; they were much kinder than I had anticipated! It was a minor act of kindness that definitely lifted my mood; on this day, my fears (of both interacting with homeless people and talking to people in general) were quelled as a result of our actions, and that’s something that I really don’t feel very often. It’s definitely a mindset shift that I’m still working on, but I think this is a good stepping stone in how I treat the people in need around me.

For us, the next steps are to see how else we can incorporate the 12 Kinds of Kindness into our own lives. This was just the beginning of something new, and I’m excited to see how else I can improve myself and the lives of others.

Going off on a slight tangent, I’m interested in seeing how video games can be a way to understand someone else’s experience more, seeing as how they are a form of interactive storytelling. Sometime this week or next week, I’m going to play That Dragon, Cancer, a video game that brings the player through the ups and downs of a couple’s experience raising their terminally ill son.

February 10, 2018

This Saturday, Christie and I went to North side to volunteer at Light of Life, an organization that provides meals and other support systems to the homeless. I’ve heard of Light of Life once before, but I didn’t know about its activities until I got to the actual place. The group we went with consisted of ~18 other CMU students, which is actually more than what was anticipated. As a result, there was a lot of activity going on in the hallways at Light of Life; in particular, most of us cleaned the walls, dishes, and rooms to improve the interior environment hospitable for its visitors.

Though we met a few of the workers at Light of Life, we didn’t meet any of those who went there for food and shelter. Despite this, however, it was a great experience to get closer and learn more about an organization that works to provide resources for the homeless in Pittsburgh. This was actually the first organization that I’ve interacted with that deals with such an issue, so the overall experience was pretty eye-opening in terms of seeing how others are creating spaces for social impact in our local communities.

February 12, 2018 — That Dragon, Cancer

Over the weekend, I played That Dragon, Cancer, a two-hour point-and-click game that chronicles Ryan and Amy Green’s experiences with their four-year old son, Joel, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away in 2014. The game is presented through a variety of scenes that take place in the hospital and several other environments, such as in space, under the sea, and religious institutions.

My goal was to see how an interactive medium, such as a video game, could tell another person’s story and put me in their shoes at the events of the game. For me, being able to understand and empathize with such a powerful story is challenging simply due to my lack of experience dealing with something similar, so I really appreciated that the Greens worked to turn a visceral, emotional story into something that could allow others to empathize and learn what their journeys were like.

While I don’t feel comfortable saying that I put myself in their shoes, I felt like I understood their thought processes during the entire journey. Ryan and Amy clearly had different methods of coping with the devastation, and that really helped me understand the differences in human responses and their interactions with each other. The process was obviously not without conflict, and I’m grateful that they showed both of their views on the matter, as well as their perspectives on religion and each other’s responses.

I think I learned a lot about coping mechanisms, human-to-human interactions, and just the general sense of how people react in the face of tragedy. A scene that stuck out to me is when the scene opens up in a hospital room with cards around them, each of which are about cancer patients who have passed away. When the player goes outside, they find that the entire hallway is lined with these cards. It was a powerful moment in visualizing that there are so many people going through the same thing, and that the game they’re interacting with is just one of numerous stories.

I also feel that the game was very well made in utilizing visual metaphors as ways to make the player understand what was happening in the Greens’ heads. For example, the scene where I played as Ryan attempting to swim up (in a futile manner) really stuck with me in helping me get a sense of what he was feeling at the time.

I think the use of a video game to tell a story as devastating as the Greens’s was a very effective use of an unexplored medium; I haven’t gone through anything even comparable to their experiences, so I’m grateful that they shared their experiences with the rest of the world. I think that just understanding their perspectives and seeing how they reacted in the face of tragedy is something powerful enough for me to take away and learn how I can be a greater support system to those going through similar situations.

February 14, 2018 — Misconception Activity

In studio, we discussed a variety of topics regarding how to improve relationships between other people through empathy and mutual understanding. We came to a consensus that much of our judgments and assumptions about others come from “misconceptions” that we have about one another. A variety of these misconceptions can be from topics such as music, hobbies, food, and other subjective fields; for a person that may love playing games instead of reading (like another person), it’s possible that he or she doesn’t have enough experience or read enough to understand the enjoyment that can be had with such an activity — the same goes for the person on the other side.

We thought that a good way to discuss misconceptions is to facilitate conversations that allow participants to talk about things that mean a lot to them. We did these conversations under the assumption that there’s a disconnect between two people’s beliefs or passions, and tried to see if there were points of mutual understanding where they could relate and come out with greater knowledge regarding other perspectives on the same topic.

Misconception Activity #1 (Christie + Bettina on the left, Albert + Bettina on the right)

For Christie and Bettina’s conversation, they discussed the topic of sincerity, and their different interpretations of it. I asked a few post-activity questions to both of them to see how they felt the conversation went, what they got out of it, and how their perspectives have changed:

Both participants said “pick your brain,” — get to know the other person

Do you think you understand other’s perspectives more?

B says C seems a lot more chill, and goes with the flow

C says B is really passionate about this thing and tries to improve herself

What did you gain from this?

C: better understanding of what sincerity means, as well as her own self-reflections on what “sincerity” means; not an issue for most, not an issue for her

B: understand C more as a person

How did this change your perspective?

B: acknowledged that most people don’t want to be insincere, but they just don’t think about it as much as her

C: why is “sincerity” so important? how B wants her relationships to be; sees “sincerity” as a result of people not wanting to be vulnerable

At the end of the activity, we debriefed with Molly a bit and she brought up the idea of having a more abstracted form of a conversation. Our “slips” or “forms” felt a bit too forced and artificial, so we considered the idea of playing with clay or as Molly had brought up, drawing what the other person in the conversation was saying as a form of visualization. Ideally by next week, we’ll have tried out this activity and reviewed what went wrong or where we could improve, and figure out “better” ways to facilitate a difficult conversation rather than waiting 15 minutes to find a topic that people disagree on.

February 19, 2018

I couldn’t make it to class today, so I was filled in by Christie, who did the drawing activity Molly had brought up with Bettina.

Christie and Bettina’s drawings for their conversations about sincerity and faith

For a better explanation (and from the perspective of someone who actually partook in the activity), please view Christie’s Medium.

February 21, 2018

Christie and I discussed the results of the drawings, and how well the activity went. A topic that came up a lot in our discussion was the use of “metaphors” as a shared language, so the abstract drawing proved to be successful in creating more unexpected metaphors. Something else we talked about was documenting how well people knew each other before participating in the activity. For example, Christie and Bettina had known each other but hadn’t been super close; obviously, this experience would be different for them than if they were best friends. Christie and I listed two pre-activity questions to have a more consistent foundation for our research:

How well do the participants know each other?

Don’t know them at all; Know them a bit; Know them pretty well; Know everything about each other

How alike do you think you are too each other?

1–2 lines of text; elaborate a bit on what they know/don’t know about the other

We also talked about the struggle of finding a topic to discuss; I think it’d be interesting to have the topic come up naturally rather than forcing a “conflict” or disagreement between the participants. This, however, could potentially just result in generic, casual conversations that would be too challenging to analyze. One of the questions that we can consider asking participants is: “What do you feel people don’t understand about you?” When hosting these activities, probing or setting the foundation for a conversation like that could be beneficial to seeing how people talk to each other in a casual manner.

Weekend of February 23, 2018 — Self-Reflection

While still conducting activity trials for our “Misconceptions” activity, Christie and I decided to start the next activity of “Self-Reflection.” We wanted a fun, more generative way of reflecting upon one’s conversations and how they went, so our first experiment is to document facets of our conversations through Instagram. We had two separate ideas on how to document it: a more abstract way where the photos posted would be objects that represent and remind us of the conversations we’ve had, or a more literal way where we post photos of the people we talk to and post our reflections on the conversation as a caption. Christie will be attempting the former method, while I’ll be trying the latter method over the next few weeks and seeing how that goes. We’ll meet on Monday to discuss how the self-reflections have gone, whether or not they were effective, and edit the activity based on our results.

Conversations I’ve had with people over the weekend!

Just a disclaimer: these documentations are for self-reflections, so I won’t be publicizing the account or captions out of respect for the privacy of the people I talk to. For our future activities, we’ll create an account for people to upload their own photos to be public if they want to, or suggest them to create an account for themselves if they prefer. I think of this as a Humans of New York-esque activity for oneself!

February 25, 2018 — Self-Reflection Update

Quick update regarding the Self-Reflection activity: it’s actually pretty difficult to not taint the conversation by asking for a photo… maybe it’s possible for self-reflection visuals to be past photos of people so they aren’t aware of my internal reflections? As for the captions (reflections), I consistently make the mistake of doing it long after the conversation so I struggle to recall all the details. I need to get into the habit of reflecting at most two hours after the conversation happens!

I’ve also found that I joke around a lot during my conversations as a way to lighten up the mood. I make sarcastic comments out of fear of the conversation becoming too serious or intense; in my opinion, this isn’t necessarily a good thing or bad thing, but I need to be more wary of when it’s okay to joke so that the person I’m talking to realizes that I want to help them make the best decision they can. Obviously, this depends on the conversation’s context a lot, but it’s definitely something that I need to notice more and take a closer look as to when I do this and whether or not it’s appropriate!

February 26, 2018 — Drawing Activity (Again)

I hosted another example of the drawing activity with my suitemates, who know each other relatively well, and consider themselves a 6 out of 10 on how similar they are to one another. They had a discussion regarding Catholicism, since they’re both Christian but only one of them is Catholic. (Disclaimer: I had a difficult time following the conversation because they used a lot of religious terms that I didn’t understand). The main things I noticed were that they didn’t necessarily draw all the time, but rather listen to one another for periods of time and then take a short break and draw. A lot of responses I heard were “that’s interesting,” and “I see…” which is something that I find myself doing a lot to show I’m listening without necessarily knowing what to say in response. At the end of the conversation (which lasted around 40 minutes), these are the drawings that came out!

Interestingly, one of my suitemates had used the drawing task as a form of documentation and way for him to reflect on what he’s saying. In that way, it turned to a sort of self-reflection and helped him articulate what he was trying to convey. The drawings are less abstract than when we did it with Christie and Bettina, so it was an interestingly different take on what we had expected!

Post-activity questions:

Why did you do this? (In this case, why did they choose this topic?)

it’s a topic that’s central to both of our identities

What did you gain from this?

learned a lot more about a Protestant perspective because there’s a huge divide over minor differences, which ultimately inhibits the church coming together

February 27, 2018 — Sculpting Activity

Christie and I hosted an activity involving Kevin and Nina, two designers who aren’t commonly associated with each other! In fact, here are the pre-activity questions:

How well do you know each other?


How similar are you guys to each other?

not very similar (but ended up in the same place)

The activity involved Kevin telling a story of an experience that changed him or stuck with him, which is purposely pretty broad. He decided to tell the story of his internship this past summer; Nina’s role was to simply listen to his story and then sculpt something out of clay after Kevin’s story ends that represents what he went through.

Nina’s sculpture representing Kevin’s story

Here’s a video of Nina explaining what she created: https://vimeo.com/258687280

In summary, Kevin’s story involved a lot of personal growth due to being in an environment that he wasn’t used to. He was forced to present more than he usually does, which ultimately helped him grow and act professionally towards the people around him. He specifically stated that he “went up a level in terms of maturity.” Nina asked him what he wanted in life after the story, and Kevin responded that his internship taught him that he just wants a group of people who are good to work with. From here, Nina sculpted a model that represents the forks in the road in Kevin’s life. He has the choice of going down a path, and he has many options — some of which could be relevant to design, and some of which are more unknown. Regardless, it was great to see an abstract approach to the sculpting activity as opposed to a sculpture of Kevin and his office building (for example).

Here are the post-activity questions:

Why did you do this?

Kevin’s internship is very relatable in this moment, fresh in this moment (Kevin)

Do you think you understand other’s perspectives more?

I think so; didn’t really have a judgment before (Nina)

What did you gain from this?

Nina learned more about Kevin

Kevin got to rethink what he was telling and about his life… and himself

Does sculpting add anything?

Not really sure, but it was nice to play with it while listening (Nina)

Obviously, the last question is pretty insightful on how “effective” this activity was. We noticed that she chose to make the sculpture at the end instead of simple making it while Kevin was talking. As a result, this activity was more of a “listening, then retell” experience rather than just a “listening” experiment. Overall, we felt it provided more insight on how we’re testing these activities than improving the relationships between a listener and the storyteller.

February 28, 2017 — In-Class Round Robin

We had a round robin in studio today, where we got into small groups and shared our projects with each other. Christie and I got the following feedback to think about:

  • How to define being considerate and thoughtful?
  • People are interested in knowing what others want to hear, they want straight up application
  • For the activities, might be interesting to do it with different pairs (couples, strangers, best friends, acquaintances)

Weekend of March 3, 2018 — Group Instagrams

Over the weekend, Christie and I created new shared Instagrams for others to post their own self-reflections. There were two groups: one with people that didn’t know each other, and one created out of an already existing group in which everyone knew one another. Our goal was to see whether or not one group is more participatory than the other, and just how these people reflect on their conversations depending on the audience that can view it. Here are the rules for the activity (for one of the groups).

Left: group of strangers; Right: group of acquaintances/friends

We’re going to let this activity go on for a couple of weeks to see how often people post and how they reflect as individuals. In a perfect world, this activity would be a repository of public reflections that others can read and understand how other people feel. Perhaps they can then look back on their own experiences and apply similar lessons that the original posters had taken away from their conversations.

March 5, 2018 — Diagramming Our Project

A struggle Christie and I have had recently is understanding the goals of each of our activities. We attempted to diagram what we had been understanding about the project, and how our experiments (formally known as “activities”) fit into categories. What we got out of our diagramming and discussion is that we want to increase awareness during conversations with our experiments, thus leading to improvements in listening and responding for people.

We still, however, felt a bit lost as to whether the experiments we were doing were the right ones, so we talked to Molly about narrowing down a bit and putting our goals into actual words instead of just theorizing what we want out of them. We also discussed qualifying the results of our experiments rather than futile-y attempting to quantify them. Thus, a to-do list was born:

  • Look into Judi Brownell’s work
  • Check our Brownell’s books and look into them
  • For each past, present, and future experiments, ask ourselves “what question are we trying to answer?”
  • Consider what questions we want to tackle with this project as a whole
  • Discuss our final deliverable, where it will live, how people will interact with it, how it relates to our mission statement, etc.
  • Research other existing frameworks and “listening theorists”
Our in-class diagramming of the project, as a to-do list

March 7, 2018 — Priorities!

We discussed with Kristin our “mental model” (pictured above), and she brought a different perspective that we hadn’t considered as much. Originally, we kept theorizing about how our activities would work and ideally attempted to back it up with research we found; based on our research, we would edit the activities so they would be robust in their purpose. Kristin encouraged us to place a stronger emphasis on the actual design aspect of the project, and to use our skills as communication designers to create a piece. The content would fall into place over time, but we should sort of re-focus our goal, consider our strengths, and put those to good use for this project.

Our new goal was to figure out how to communicate the information that our project was about: where would it live? How would people interact with it? Most importantly, what would it look like? Christie and I sketched out some quick ideas, including a potential interface (if we were to make a digital piece), an art gallery-esque show on campus, and a workshop with wayfinding arrows to move people through the various activities. We looked into ways to utilize gallery spaces on campus, but they were all booked for the rest of the semester. Seeing as spring break was coming up soon and we needed time to think about how to tackle this project’s form, Christie and I contemplated different ways while keeping track of our ongoing activities (i.e. Instagram/conversation reflections) throughout the next week and a half.

March 21, 2018 — Merging Groups!

Coming back from spring break, Christie and I reconvened to get our thoughts organized for the project. We had a design sprint in which we laid out all our ideas on the table in terms of how people should interact with our activities. We settled on some sort of physical form as we felt it’d be more personal considering the context of the project. Our drawings consisted of several panels of walls and tables/chairs for people to actually conduct the activities, and simply just have conversations with one another. We both toyed around with the idea of having it be like an outdoor cafe, but things still felt up-in-the-air in terms of how we’ll finalize things.

Quick sketches of ideas during the design sprint

After bouncing ideas off Bettina and Hae Wan, we decided to (finally) merge groups since we kept arriving at the same conclusion. While our project spaces are still slightly different, we both felt that a pop-up shop would be an exciting solution to both groups’ goals! With four people in our group now, it’s much easier to divide the work if need be, and also allows us to come up with a greater variety of ideas for things such as our visual style/branding, physical form, and overall visitor experiences.

Potential space on campus for a pop-up shop?

March 25, 2018 — Visual Style

The focus of this meeting was the branding and visual style that we wanted to employ for our pop-up shop. We created a Pinterest board to bring forth discussions on visual works that inspired us and also felt relevant to the topics of conversations, support systems, and overall empathy. As a group, we split up individually to explore things that we felt would best convey the tone we were going for. After doing so, we would meet up and try to find similarities in what we were all aiming towards in order to solidify a final style.

Pinterest board for branding inspiration

Unfortunately, I felt like I was focusing too much on creating a style that’s exciting to my personal tastes rather than something that would fit the context of conversations. I’m really grateful for the rest of the group to talk through their thoughts with me, and get their visual inspirations in writing so that it’s accessible to everyone (e.g. talking about why they think a certain poster’s visual style would work well for our branding). It was helpful for all of us to sort of get on the same page regarding what we’re going for, and helpful for me in particular to understand what I should be focusing on rather than trying to make a visual style that may be more “exciting” (to me), but not as fitting for our project.

As a side task, Christie and I wanted to solidify the activities we had — one of which is a quick voting booth for people who don’t necessarily have enough time to walk through the entire pop-up shop. We sent out a poll asking people what they struggled with in conversations and received approximately 60 responses (48 from Google Surveys and 12 from Reddit)! The two of us sifted through the responses to look for patterns, and used them to created a mock-up of the voting activity, as pictured below, to be placed outside our studio.

Voting activity mock-up (day 1)
Voting activity progress over a few days!

March 30, 2018 —The Blab Lab

In our meeting today, we figured out how to pace the rest of the project, considering we had one month (!) left. We have rough ideas of how long things will take — the main things we nailed down were when to finish the branding guidelines, copy, and the visuals for print/web materials. We want to launch the website right before Carnival (April 18) and actually host the pop-up shop on April 27. Hopefully we can get a better understanding of how to actually work on the physical form once we talk to Chris in the 3D Lab.

(Ideal) schedule for the rest of the semester

The second thing we talked about (and had a lot of fun with) was creating the name of our piece. For about 20 minutes, we played around with random synonyms of “chat,” “talk,” “conversations,” etc. and metaphors to capture the friendly and optimistic vibe that we want our pop-up shop to have. Eventually, Christie mentioned the word “blab” and thus… BLAB LAB was born!

I feel that “Blab Lab” is such a funny, inviting name considering that our content is about talking with one another and improving conversations so people can become better support systems. It definitely gives off a friendly feeling, and jokingly saying “BLABLABLABLA” is, in a way, a weird feeling for how a lot of conversations seemingly go. Regardless, I’m hopeful for how Blab Lab will turn out! :)

Finally, Christie and I talked about the activity we should create for active listening. We decided that we wanted it to be a solo activity since we couldn’t rely on people coming in pairs; given that we had researched and found a list of actions people could do to “actively listen,” we decided to incorporate those as tips into an activity. By conducting a website with small activities for classrooms, I was intrigued by the concept behind “postcards,” despite not knowing what to do with them just yet. We brainstormed a few ideas that people could interact with each other (without necessarily having a conversation), and came up with an activity where visitors could write down what they want their friends to improve on on a postcard. After doing so, they would put it on an “exhibition” wall (anonymously) for others to read! If a person wants to write on a postcard, they would have to take one off the wall and keep it for themselves, creating a constantly-changing wall of postcards with questions regarding how people could improve conversing with one another. On the back of the postcards would be active listening tips for people to take home and try to practice next time they have a conversation!

April 2, 2018 — Physical Mockups

We worked on creating some physical mockups to better understand how the form would look for our pop-up shop. We looked at Pinterest for some inspiration on creative ways people structured their shops, and were inspired by a house-of-cards-esque structure where we could put our posters and other print media.

The initial mockup was very rough; it consisted of two structures that were required for our different activities. In the middle structure (pictured below), the activities would be a voting booth and conversation styles on the other side. The structure on the left would be a table to house materials for the other activities (active listening, self-reflection, drawing conversations). The mock-up doesn’t include the extra tables we’d require for people to sit and have conversations for.

Initial physical mockup
2nd iteration of physical mockup (complete with labels!)
Feedback from crit on Monday

We got a lot of feedback regarding our notes and branding iterations. Many people thought the branding was fun and energetic, but a bit hard to read (BLAB LAB). There was also feedback about our activities and how they would be work within the actual pop-up shop; we felt that perhaps we didn’t present enough materials or context to actually give people an understanding of our intentions. Nevertheless, our goals for the next few days is to try and practice our activities with people unfamiliar of our project, and to write the copy to see if the activities can be done by the visitors themselves (without guidance from us).

Example branding image

April 4, 2018 — Copywriting

We essentially spent the entire class writing copy and trying to determine the right wording for each activity. Our goal with the copy is to let people understand the project, the activities, and the objectives without us needing to walk through it every time. Christie and I also tested one of the set of instructions that we wrote with other people in studio, but we required a lot of clarification due to the lack of context (e.g. we talked about a “wall” in the instructions, but we didn’t actually have a wall in our user test).

Instructions for the Drawing Conversations activity (first iteration)

Additionally, Bettina talked to Chris Stygar during class and we found that actually creating the structures in our mockup is essentially impossible (or highly unlikely considering the materials needed, and our lack of physical form-making experience). As a result, we’ve decided to shift to a more simple table-and-wall layout, and seen in the photo below. We still want to host it outside, but we’re also comfortable utilizing the University Center if the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor activities.

An example installation in the UC (walls can be used for our print visuals)

April 8, 2018 — Working on Content + Form

We continued to work on the form of what our pop-up shop would look like, depending on whether or not we’d be able to get the portable walls as pictured above. Since we needed some sort of physical prototype by Monday, we decided to go with a mixture of tables and stands for how our space would be organized. Below are some layout options drawn by Bettina!

courtesy of Bettina!

With the final deadline approaching, we decided to create a timeline to get ourselves back on track to finish everything in time. We’re still finalizing the style guide for Blablab, but time is passing by pretty quickly so hopefully we’ll have it done soon enough to create all the other materials.

courtesy of Christie!

In the timeline above, we aimed to have the pop-up shop on April 27. This gives us approximately 2.5 weeks to design the other physical materials (postcards, posters, etc.) as well as the website.

April 10, 2018

Christie and I continued working on writing copy for the various activities, and I worked on creating some materials such as the pamphlet and the postcards. We came across a previous project done at CMU, which involved tying string across the trees on campus and allowing people to interact with the papers hung on the string, similar to a clotheslines. As a group, we figured this would be much more easy to implement than having to create physical walls with the help of the industrial design faculty. We went outside to survey the space, and decided to use the hill next to the tennis courts, where there are smaller trees that have a good amount of space in between them for us to host our pop-up!

Pop-up space; photo creds: Bettina Chou
Potential layout ideas (using trees as the poles)

Our group also talked a lot about having a way for the physical takeaways from the pop-up be more unified. Since a bunch of the takeaways were cards, we wondered if they could all live together in some form that wasn’t just a folder (which was our original plan). After much deliberation, we settled on handing physical bottles (akin to milk bottles) as our “center”-piece; various activities would decorate the bottles, and visitors can decorate it to be their own, and take it home with them. The bottle was also a sort of metaphor for conversations, since many friendly conversations happen over drinks.

April 16, 2018

We had decided to move our pop-up date to May 4th, taking place on The Cut. With the deadline coming up, many of our marketing materials had to be completed and printed before CMU’s Spring Carnival (April 19–22). I also started to work with Christie on the website.

Sketch mockup of landing page for the website

April 18, 2018

Seeing as how Carnival was the next day, and none of us really wanted to spend our days off slaving over incomplete projects, we worked hard to push out the marketing materials by the end of the day. I made a near-complete version of the website and Hae Wan got a domain for us to host it on (www.cmublablab.com)!

Landing page
Blablab information

Hae Wan continued to work on branding, and we nailed down a color palette and poster series to use for our marketing!

Marketing posters (and color palette!)

April 25, 2018

Over the past week, we worked on various different aspects of the pop-up shop. My role was to work on the website, as well as the layout for the pamphlet/zine and the poll that visitors can participate in. I made the website responsive and we created the Facebook event for Blablab; we also tried to generate some hype by posting pictures throughout the week to remind people to come! Due to weather circumstances, we decided to move Blablab to Wednesday, May 2nd — right after our final studio crit.

#blablab #marketing #hooray
#blablab #group #posters #yay

April 28, 2018

I continued to work on the pamphlet/zine and the poll. The process was made a lot easier due to actually having a finalized style guide, so we could move a lot faster as the pop-up date approached.

Pamphlet layout (not final)
Poll layout (also not final)

April 30, 2018

Due to having another major deadline coming up soon, I had to send the files of the pamphlet and poll to my groupmates for them to finish up. I was able to join them for a photoshoot for documentation and marketing purposes. At this point, almost all over our physical materials had been designed and printed — ready for the show. We just had to prepare for actually hosting the pop-up and finalizing a few other materials, such as the pamphlet and obtaining the bottles/food for the pop-up.

Drawing activity and convo cards!
Active listening activity (to be attached to the botltes)

May 2, 2018 — BLABLAB DAY!

After our presentation on Blablab in studio, we hosted the pop-up shop outside on The Cut. There was a constant crowd of people for about an hour and the materials went out pretty quickly; it was exciting to see everyone participating in the activities! Below are some photos taken by Christie :)

Setting up
Conversation struggles poll
Communication styles activity
Drawing conversations activity
Hanging up drawn conversations!

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