I have reduced the redesign of the kitchen to 3 critical factors.
1) The culture surrounding the job of cook
2) The signage and other type of tacit instruction/feedback
3) The flexibility and intuitiveness of the space itself.
In order to gauge these I am currently performing 2 surveys and have had a tour through the kitchen with a non-resident.
For assessing the culture around the job of cook, I decided to assess the houses’ feeling of connectedness as well as some other measures like number of unaccounted missed jobs and self-reported time spent on jobs that weren’t assigned. I also placed a few simple signs around the kitchen with QR codes linking to a survey asking about the reader’s reaction.
The survey of connectedness was mostly populated with positive answers. Most residents agree they can speak to someone else in the house and that the environment allows for change. There was, however, a single resident who reported “giving up on the house”. To me, if even one person reports this than we have failed at creating an equitable community. Moreover the shallowness and predictability of the replies didn’t tell me much about feelings of connectedness.
As of yet, 0 people have scanned the QR codes or found my survey. It is clear that no one in the house wants to use electronic forms of communication. This is also in combination with my impression of how emails are received in the house.
On the kitchen tour, my new person, was mostly struck by the anarchy around the storage place. They weren’t sure where they would put anything back and said they would likely just choose any old place. They liked the neat snack boxes in the pantry and the fact that they were all labeled. They suggested the same type of organization for utensils.
Combining this and the kitchen tour have given me an idea of what type of experiences I would like to add to the house as well as methods of assessing their success.
Jobs Board – A publically displayed schedule with everyone’s weekly and quarterly responsibility clearly laid out. This has been set-up in the kitchen and each resident was allowed to add their own little pendant to represent themselves. Hopefully this will add more fun and engagement to the rather dry jobs system.
Rez Points – A system I hope to suggest for next year in which resident’s and manager’s can give and receive points for pro-social actions in the house. Points can be taken away only in the event of missed jobs and responsibilities. Some point earning actions could include cooking workshops, helping out on a crew you aren’t on, and other informal positive actions.
Abnormally Large Wall of Feedback – I simply want a large whiteboard that is broken down into categories like “Food”, “House”, “Fun”, etc where residents are encouraged to write and respond to others thoughts. There is no place for manager replies but managers should monitor this board.
PostUrMeal – Cooks will be encouraged to write their menu on another large wall of white construction paper each week. Residents can draw pictures of what they liked or add anything they want. At the end of the week these will be recorded digitally and stored on a house blog for posterity.
HouseMeetings during meals – Finally I want to make sure house meetings happen during meal times given our abysmal attendance rate.
The assessment of the success will mostly be performed by next years managers. This is certainly one of the largest and oddest difficulties of creating and maintaining such a transient community. While there are many motivated and caring people, a year is simply not long enough to create a meaningful connection to a space. Hopefully some of these design choices will allow some creation of a cultural legacy and identity. Here are some factors that will be important to observe next year:
Amount of Feedback on wall
Character of feedback on wall
Amount of wasted food
Amount and character of interaction at house meetings
General attitudes about the house, can be assessed through surveys in person
Amount of meals put into the PostUrMeal
How many times PostUrMeal is visited
Number of independent projects done for the house without manager prompting