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After watching a screening of Gasland at school, I was inspired to change gears for my final project in Major Studio to do something to combat hydraulic fracturing in New York’s watershed.

Hydraulic fracturing is a volatile and a pretty much unregulated way of extracting natural gas. The trailer for Gasland above, and this image explains it pretty well.

After my initial presentation to the class, Melanie resonated really strongly with using maps to tell a story. I still believe that face to face interaction is the best way to drive the point home, so here is the next iteration of my process:

I garnered a lot of interest from classmates that wanted to get involved. Kenny wanted to partner up, and Heather & Graeme from Victoria’s nanotech class also were super interested. From there we decided to split up. Graeme & Heather would be working primarily on the public intervention part, Kenny would spearhead figuring out the google map and I would be split in both parts. We also got started in the social media realm by creating a facebook group and twitter account. We followed both hydraulic fracturing supporters and those against it.

I attended the Sustainability Awards to get a better feel for what the environmental activist community was doing to fight this legislation. It was a little extreme, which made me realize that I would need a different tactic to pull in the rest of the population that would be interested if they knew more about the issue. Kenny, Heather & I headed to a rally held by NYU students against fracking. We held interviews and filmed the scene. Heather had our logo and social media information printed on business cards and we handed them out to interested parties.

Kenny & I presented the following presentation to our guest crit:

It didn’t go over as well as we had liked. Part of it was that we were a bit flustered throughout our presentation. We had focused so much on the time we’d spent on the rally and our social media efforts, and not so much on the map we were working on. Our major critique was that it was too much activism and not enough design + technology. At this point, we realized we were trying to do too much, and we should drop the public intervention part of our project and really start iterating our map.

We had initially wanted people to contribute stories and we would curate and edit what we could find, but after our crit, we were inspired to look more at pulling in feeds from social media. When reflecting on our own experiences with this project, we realized that we had relied a lot upon twitter and google alerts in finding the latest trends and information about current events.

Here are some layouts I worked on for our map:


Even with honing in on just the website, we realized the website was doing too much. There are plenty of websites that already explain what fracking is and what can be done to help. So we chose to excise that from our site and really push using alerts and twitter. Here is our final product:

Our final crits were a success! Our guest crits liked what we were trying to achieve with our project. One crit that we were really intrigued by was transforming what we’re doing into a social activists kit– an easy way for a person or an organization to start a movement. Interesting idea, and I really would like to continue it further.

Final Presentation: