Concerned with Vancouver's reputation to be a cold, unfriendly city, I began this personal project as a way to foster community. This design is about gratitude and how it can strengthen the bonds between people. My goal was to create a sense of belonging through the stories that connect us all.
My initial intentions were community centred and wide-spread. However I overlooked a simple fact: relationships are a fundamental part of your happiness, but it's about how many you have, it's about how DEEP they are.
This book is a pass-it-forward thank you card which is crafted to reflect the vulnerability, kindness, and weight of the words that it carries. Each page contains a different thank you, a personal message strengthening the bond between two individuals.
The inscription instructs how the book must be passed forward once received. It gives each person a moment to feel appreciated, acknowledged. Then provides the opportunity to find gratitude in the actions of someone else. As it spreads around the community, people can read others' messages and glimpse at the narrative that connects them all.
Initially I decided to design for depression. However coming across Laura Kubzansky's research, I understood that there could be a different approach to mental health.
Following up with extensive research on the psychology of happiness, lead me to gratitude, relationships, and community. My project then evolved from individual health to community well being, and how I could design to initiate lasting social change.
From there I researched different precedent examples of happiness through designed interventions, instillations, and exhibitions.
Happiness as a universal human ambition allowed me to run co-creative activities with many different people. Illustrations of their experiences of happiness contributed to my body of research, already including explorations into vulnerability and the sharing of personal narratives.
How might I: create gratitude and foster community?
My process always includes a storm of blue-sky ideation and mess of sketches.
This project would be nothing without the guidance and feedback of everyone I worked with. The feedback I was receiving became decisive for my design, influencing important decisions and ultimately drove me in the direction of more intimate connections through gratitude.
What happened when I sent the book out into the world...