Bio Box is a program designed to promote the importance of green spaces and its relation to our personal health and the health of the planet.
Passion Project / 8 weeks / Service, Experiential, Visual + Educational Design
Green space, healthy food and climate justice are three essential needs for a healthy environment in highly populated urban areas. By creating a community-based service that spreads awareness and promotes sustainable living, Bio Box brings people together by focusing on personal health and the health of the planet. Whether it's learning how to grow your own food or transforming a public space, Bio Box scaffolds for different communities and learners, from age 7 to 97.
“Green is a process, not a status. We need to think of 'green' as a verb, not an adjective.”
- DANIEL GOLEMAN
Recent studies have highlighted a lack of access to urban green spaces. Researchers studied green space density in 10 major US cities. They found that people with higher income and more education had greater access to green spaces than less privileged people.
Green spaces promote well-being, keep cities cool and act as carbon sinks while alleviating the effects of climate change. As we continue to develop our cities we need to ensure equitable access for everyone, especially marginalized communities.
Creating new green spaces from scratch is easier said than done. It takes time, money, energy and ingenuity to create a public space of vegetation for the community to enjoy. Those initial challenges married with longterm issues of maintenance, politics and funding can form a barrier that is hard for any community to climb over.
Bio Box aspires to offer kits to children and families in marginalized communities in need of green spaces. Through a grassroots education program built into each Bio Box, children start cultivating their own personal gardens. Beginning at the elementary level, with simple plant types, while moving on to middle schoolers, with plant types changing in complexity and the amount of care required.
Bio Box offers marginalized communities something that lawmakers and other powers that be have often overlooked - personal green spaces. The individual BioBox planting kits allow people in areas that lack green spaces to cultivate their own little green oasis.
The Bio Box program encourages kids to develop their own green thumbs by teaching them the importance of green spaces early on. Through awareness, education, demonstration and guided practice, children become leaders for greener communities.
01. – PROMOTE awareness about the desperate need for green spaces in high-population urban areas.
02. – ASSIST children in marginalized communities cultivate their own green spaces.
03. – DISTRIBUTE BioBox kits for children from elementary through middle school.
04. – CREATE sustainable green spaces, by the people, for the people!
By defining the problem, challenge, solution and opportunity, I created a natural path to my value proposition.
Bio Box will improve the quality of life in vulnerable communities by
- increasing awareness of the benefits of nature for our health and environment
- providing education and materials to those who are interested
- supporting the growth and maintenance of the program
1. Targeted communities will participate in the Bio Box program by attending the instructional sessions.
2. Children will successfully grow plants with the Bio Box kit.
3. There will be at least one visible Bio Box extension in each targeted community.
WHO THIS SERVES
Click on an image to see each persona :
HOW IT WORKS
Vulnerable communities are targeted, evaluated and contacted about interest in the program. Schools, community centers and local government participate in selecting sponsors and leaders to run the local program. A contract is made with Bio Box. The program is publicized and children sign up to participate.
Designated program leaders can pickup Bio Box kits from Home Depot or arrange special delivery. During the first class of the the program, instructors distribute the kits to all children who are participating. Kits are also be available for purchase by the public at Home Depot or by contacting Bio Box directly.
The leaders of these programs will demonstrate to kids how to assemble the box, plant the seeds and continue to grow and care for their green space on a daily basis. Online support is available on the site along with instructional videos and trouble shooting tips. Instructions are included in the Bio Boxes and available online to view, download or print.
Each year the program curriculum and projects build on the previous lessons to align with grade level. This scaffolding is essential for building skills, knowledge and ultimately promoting community involvement.
There are a million ways to expand your Bio Box projects. These extensions range from very simple projects to complex systems and structures. They are designed to incorporate everyday materials and able to be applied in areas of little to no resources.
“Information is like compost; it does no good unless you spread it around.”
- ELIOT COLEMAN
I designed the Bio Box website. It explains the entire program and the intention behind it.
SETTING THE TABLE
The following narrative outline is intended to create context and highlight the features of Bio Box. The three personas are used as the main characters.
- Through an awareness campaign Bio Box targets vulnerable communities in need of access to educational programs focused on the connection between health and environmental.
- Thea's neighborhood is targeted.
- Thea first learns about the program from an ad on her mother's social media.
- A few days later she sees a Bio Box poster in her science class.
- She shows her friends.
- Thea's science teacher talks to the class about the program and shows them a short video.
- Thea signs up for the Bio Box after-school program.
Ad on Social Media
Assembly Demo Video
- Khari lives in the D.C. area
- She views the intro video and signs on to lead a Bio Box program.
- Khari is Thea's Bio Box Instructor.
- Bio Box kits are picked up from the local Home Depot.
- Khari demonstrates how to assemble the Bio Box.
- The kit includes everything you need to grow a green space - except water!
- She encourages the children to customize the box and shows examples.
- The children see her in the classroom a few times.
- She is available to video chat and answer questions online.
- She remains a contact for Thea's program and continues to support it.
Instructions and Activity Guides
Customized Bio Box Examples
Bio Box at Home
The Bio Box Kit
This small and customizable kit can be easily fit in any indoor living area.
14" x 14" x 3"
- Arturo lives on Thea's block.
- He is friendly and knows Thea and her family.
- He inquires about the Bio Box kit that he sees Thea bring home.
- They talk about gardening and his childhood on the farm in Mexico.
- Thea gives him some of the herbs she grows from her kit.
- Arturo offers to teach Thea an old family recipe.
- Thea and Arturo quickly become close friends.
- Thea and her friends begin to work on Bio Box extensions in the neighborhood.
- Arturo and other neighbors become involved.
- The community benefits from Bio Box.
Arturo's Family Recipe for Tamales
Garden Wall Extension
Creative Sustainability Extension
- Thea shares her excitement and progress with her class and Khari.
- Khari is thrilled and features Thea on Bio Box social media.
- Khari encourages Thea to continue her awesome work.
- Thea inspires her friends and community to live healthier lives.
- The Bio Box curriculum scaffolds so Thea builds her skills with each project.
Social Media Feature
“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.”
- PEDRO CALDERON DE LA BARCA
Sustainability is a powerful tool anyone can possess.
Justice applies to everything in life - especially the environment.
Health is the key to happiness and progress.
It is crucial that Bio Box partners with companies who have similar values and are community oriented. The following three partnerships would allow Bio Box to thrive and reach communities that truly need assistance.
The Home Depot is a great partner for distribution of Bio Box kits. The locations create easy access for temporary storage and pickup.
The Home Depot’s core values are based on doing the right thing for our customers and associates, and this commitment extends beyond our stores to our communities and the environment.
Johnny's Seeds is a superior seed company whose mission aligns perfectly with Bio Box.
Our mission is helping families, friends, and communities to feed one another by providing superior seeds, tools, information, and service.
The Biotrē™ product line offers sustainable products for use in the BioBox kits.
At PBi we continue to expand our Biotrē™ films and with each film we develop we get closer to our simple goal; providing the industry with packaging that protects both product and the planet.
By using a design thinking process I was able to divide the work into manageable chunks. It was very important to me to consider the product as a whole while working on individual sections. The foundation of the process was solid while the pieces on top moved around. The process is never linear and usually feels like this :
Defining the Product Vision and Strategy
Define specific success criteria. - The value proposition.
Why am I doing this? - It is important to me to work on something for the greater good.
How am I doing this? - I'll work with a design thinking process to solve the problem.
What is it? - A program to benefit communities in need.
Who is it for? - Marginalized communities.
Where will it be used? - Community centers or any place able to host the program.
The first things I did was research, read and watch information about green spaces.
I'd link you to the gDoc, but you really don't wanna go there ;)
Market Research - I found many examples of mini indoor gardens but no programs with scaffolding.
User Research - I researched the demographic to ensure this would be feasible.
User Interviews - I interviewed children and teachers to insure there would be interest.
Contextual Inquiry - I observed community members and asked questions about their habits.
Personas - By combining the information I gathered via research I was able to create three personas.
Empathy Map - An empathy map allowed me to understand the needs of the community members.
Brainstorm - Mind mapping and word vomits.
Strong Narrative - Creating a narrative gives context.
User Stories - As a user I want to ____ so that I can ____.
User Flow - What does the user do from start to finish?
Sketch - Crappy sketches in my notebook.
Wireflow - How does the site function?
Wireframe - What does the interface look like?
Prototyping - Consider the needs of the user and how it would be used with little to no assistance.
Iteration - Change the design to accommodate all situations.
Brand Identity - The brand guidelines were used to begin the branding design look and feel.
Testing and Validation
User testing - Children were shown the website, guides and kit.
Rated by criteria - The interest level was judged by a survey of questions.
Extensions - There are tons of creative extensions to use for this program. Some are listed on the site.
The brand guidelines were essential in creating the brand identity. I wanted the logo name and look to reflect a youthfulness, energy, positivity and progress. Every decision about color, font, line and shape was intentional.
This project started off as a fun way to help kids understand the connection between their health and the environment. As the project developed I became more invested in answering the questions that were arising from my research and more passionate about finding a feasible solution. I am proud to be the lead architect of this product and service and can't wait to see how it develops. I have plans to continue working on this program by seeking funding via investors or partnerships to make it a reality in the near future. If you are interested in supporting this program please contact me!
Andrea Owens - Experience Design, Visual Identity, Program Structure, Copywriting
Matteo Meola - 3D Design, Video
Karan Raikar - Copywriting, Video