By Katie Pastor- University Apartments
As we near Week 8, and ultimately the end of our project, our team paused to take a reality check and a comprehensive look back at what we’ve achieved over the past two quarters. Over winter quarter, our team developed a plan in somewhat uncharted territory: for a project that was less scientific-based than many others but that was largely psychological and communicative.
Our ambitions, at the start, were grand: we aimed not just to change numbers but to change a paradigm in the University Village apartments as well, really evoking a whole other kind of shift. We took time to research the variety of ways people were encouraged to recycle in many different settings, and discussed implementation of strategies that we thought would best fit the conditions under which the University Village operates. We sketched out a timeline that would allow us to observe the effects of each strategy in a different region of the housing, as well as multiple strategies in tandem with one another, for a sufficient period. With a concrete plan backed by previous studies and the approval of our stakeholder, Ken MacKenzie, we confidently anticipated successful implementation of our project as winter quarter ended.
At the beginning of spring quarter, we faced some challenges that set us back a bit in completing some of our goals. For starters, we (ironically) faced a few communication issues in the implementation of our communication-based project. As both our own schedules and those of our stakeholder’s team at the Village became busier, conversation between the parties grew sparser (and mildly more confusing, as more and more people got involved). Restrictions on our own design abilities as a team hindered the production process, and we realized that, in planning, we had failed to account for some manufacturing time as signage and door hangers were created. As a result, we were only able to collect control data (with no strategies implemented) for the first three weeks of the quarter, and could not begin with the changed conditions until after those weeks passed. This certainly set us back on our timeline; thus, we found we needed to eliminate the mixed strategies portion of our data collection in order to remain on track.
Starting the implementation of our conditions later than expected and having to cut down our strategic efforts made it easy for our team to feel as though we were not living up to the standards we had set for ourselves. I, for one, was certainly downtrodden for a few weeks. But reflecting upon our project, I realize we were not unsuccessful at all. When our project ends, the residents in the University Village will ultimately be left with permanent signage and individual recycling bins for each unit that can be kept after the conclusion of our project. While we have not had a chance to analyze whether recycling habits changed due to implementation of our strategies so far (this is our team’s task for the coming week), I realized through another avenue that we were certainly successful in, at the very least, bringing attention toward recycling in the Village. People responded to our survey and in fact offered suggestions as to how to improve recycling, clearly showing some interest and dedication to the project! I think we’ll gain more insight as we analyze the data from the past few weeks and administer our post-project survey, but what I’ve learned so far is the benefit that comes from asking the residents what they need. A community knows itself best, and its two cents should definitely be considered. This is something that perhaps the most important communication lesson of all, and that all future teams should be sure to take into account.
Quantitatively, we’ll see just how immense our effect on the Village was in the coming weeks, but at this point, I’m already confident in saying we have evoked change on some level.