Collective Story is a simple toolkit that inspires people to engage around a topic in public areas

Contribution — co-leading qualitative research, prototyping, usability testing, user experience design, branding, product strategy.
Context — August to December 2014, in Public Interfaces class, SVA IxD. Piloted with Border Crossers.

About the project

Collective Story is a toolkit for community engagement. The toolkit provides opportunities for anyone — individuals, groups, schools and other local organizations — to gauge public opinion, provoke discussion and create collectively. We experimented with a series of storytelling prompts distributed across New York City over a span of a month.

Here’s how Collective Story works: 

The toolkit includes a how-to guidebook and stencils for easy poster-making. The guidebook (pdf) comes with instructions and case studies.


Working with NYC residents, we tested a series of low-fidelity experiments to understand the lowest barrier to entry for residents to engage with one another around a given topic.

We found that our poster prototypes sparked the highest levels of engagement and reflection. We loosely measured engagement by observing whether people paused in their tracks to read, or felt compelled to add their thoughts, and the sentiments people shared when sharing pictures of the posters on social media. 

Piloting with Border Crossers to inspire dialogue about racism in schools

Border Crossers is an organization whose mission is to train and empower educators to dismantle patterns of racism and injustice in  schools and communities. 

We partnered with them for their annual fundraising gala, an event which included speaches and performances, learning about the organizations recent work, and lots of time for mingling (an important aspect that would indicate probable high engagement with the Collective Story installations).

The attendees of this event were people who were part of the Border Crossers’ community, or deeply invested in their mission. We worked with the organization to get a sense of what they’d like to hear about and learn from the atendees, and designed large scale posters and installed them in some of the quieter areas of the venue. The installation inspired spirited and honest dialogue challenges folks were experiencing and actionable solutions for addressing racism in schools, as well as quiet introspection as folks shared their responses on the posters individually.