It’s funny how I felt quite confident before pitching my original proposal to my group member and tutor… and then the complete opposite after feedback. I explained my original two proposals: the first about a two books that acted as a representation of public attitudes (based on the very strong for/against attitudes found from my twitter data research). It would be presented in an official government document format to policy makers — the pro-refugee book would be obnoxiously thick to illustrate that majority of Australians (on Twitter) disagree with current refugee policies. Initially, I thought it was simple but embodied and interesting visual metaphor of public attitudes. However, after class discussions, I realised that it didn’t really serve a purpose — the book would be made and then no-one would really see it. Another flaw was that even during the data scraping exercise in week 5, I found that the Twitter results were not an accurate or very valid representation of Australian attitudes as it only reflects a tiny percentage of the public (those who use social media to voice their outrage/views). It would also be impossible to go through thousands of tweets and categorise them into those that are for or against current refugee policies.
I also presented another proposal that encourages people to consider alternative perspectives, rather than just using bias information to support their attitudes. I explained that I could design a twitterbot that would [attempt to] distinguish attitudes based on wording and hashtags used in tweets (i.e illegal, #stoptheboats, #letthemstay). It would then match these with a tweet that presents the opposite stance on the issue, encouraging a conversation where the two parties gain a bit of perspective from each other… However, realistically speaking, I highly doubt that this concept would result in peaceful, civil conversations, especially considering it is using a social network renown for trolling, abuse and obscene language. Rather than encouraging empathy and understanding, it would most likely create more conflict.
After a few days of anxious despair due to not having a solid concept, I began brainstorming and discussing possibilities with a peer from another class who was researching a different issue. I found this to have been one of the most beneficial brainstorming sessions as I was conversing with someone who didn’t know what I had been researching and focusing on. I realise that I had been stubbornly holding on to this idea of having some sort of metaphoric concept that responded to the big picture of the issue. Rather, I should have tried focusing on a specific area of my research, one in which I could actually have the potential to change. I found it helped to revisited the reflections I made from previous exercises, particularly the notions of changing attitudes in a positive way and encouraging a sense of understanding.
During my brainstorming session, my peer also suggested that rather than just identifying the problem, why not try to mediate it. The problem has already been established and it is well known that many people have conflicting attitudes, so why not try to find a common ground of reconciliation. This notion was also previously considered in one of the 5 possibilities listed in Post 8, suggesting I aim to build long-term relationships between the Australian public and refugees. I found that service design would be the most effective response to this possibility as people will be actively involved in sharing an experience with others and creating lasting emotional connections with them.
CULTURAL FUSION FETIVAL PROPOSITION
As the gap between the Australian community and refugees continues to escalate, so do tensions, conflict and negative attitudes towards each other. A lack of understanding and ignorance seems to be driving these people apart, focusing on how vastly different their backgrounds are, rather than embracing them. Thus I propose to design a service/campaign that surrounds the notion of a cultural market/festival. This festival acts as a space for an exchange of personal and cultural art, craft workshops, books, food, music, performance and stories. The Cultural Fusion Festival can be held once a week at various schools, which also alludes to educating everyone about different cultures, values and backgrounds. Schools are also associated with family orientated events, thus encourages positive and friendly attitudes. Flyers and brochures will be sent to households, local businesses, schools and refugee NGOs to inform them about the event. Posters will also be put up around the community, encouraging people of all race, gender, age and religion to join. The refugee festival ultimately encourages people share their background and embrace the backgrounds of others, thus demonstrating the benefits and enjoyments of multiculturalism.
This proposal responds to my research regarding empathy and how those who are so far separated from other parties, find it difficult to understand and relate with them. I found that it would be impossible to create a universally recognised system that could somehow overcome conflict and bigotry. Thus, I found it would be more constructive to focus on making a large impact on small scale — this then has the potential to expand to a larger market/audience.
My research also reinforced that there is no single solution that could satisfy all clashing attitudes within this issue. Thus, rather than trying to find a ‘solution’, I am attempting to change the attitudes. I have found that emotions are a primary actor for change as they have the ability to influence other attitudes, authority figures and policies/outcomes. Therefore, by creating a physical space where resettled refugees and the Australian community can enter and engage with each other, they are enabled to really identify with others on a much more emotional level.