Author Archives: britneyj

Part 2: Britney and Sean’s Individualistic Park

Our experience of translating the viewpoint we chose into an object wasn’t an extremely difficult one. In our design, we aimed to depict the exact opposite of how public parks are portrayed today. Public parks currently exist as democratic spaces of unity and inclusion. The ways by which we chose to eliminate this political feature (e.g. by including electrical outlets and single chairs) closely resembles how individualism exists amongst us today. Furthermore, the plots of grass surrounded and divided by hedges prevent people from interacting with each other and establishing connections. This promotes exclusion, which exists in our design.

Other politics that currently exist in public parks involve:

  • physical location: Some parks are constructed in places that are inaccessible for undesired people;
  • seating: Chairs and/or benches may be designed to prevent those who are homeless from being there;
  • and preservation: Parks in poorer areas may not be maintained as well or often as those in more expensive areas.

As innocent as they may seem, politics can clearly be found within current public parks. However, it is our hope that public parks be redesigned to fulfill the intent that we believe: to be spaces of healing and unity within our communities.

Where is the Love?: My Personal Theory of Change

Where is the love? In the media, politics, our interactions with human beings – there is an abundance of hatred, divisiveness, and dislike. But I am curious to know what we have done with love, compassion, and empathy. Why is negativity more prevalent than positivity? I can only imagine a future filled with support, unity, and hope spreading across the world. We could experience blissful lives without worry of harm, judgement, or inequality. Can you picture what that world would look like?

It sounds like a fairytale, sure; but what if there was more exposure of love in the media, politics, etc. than there was hate? We may never reach a perfect world, but we can set a path to move in its direction. A starting point to consider would be being kind to someone we may not agree with or who may have wronged us. This is tough, I know. But it is a start. By showing and expressing acts of kindness to one another, over time, this can lead to so much more: support, love, hope, unity, equality, etc. What a world that would be to see.

 

*My goal is to build/use tools that will inspire and empower individuals & communities to reach their full potential.

The Entrepreneur Expo

Entrepreneurship is ever-growing and all ages are seeking a piece of the pie. As recent college graduates, my friend and I experienced the influx of entrepreneurs at our institution and amongst our peers. We assumed that support and exposure were two key components that would often serve as a turning point for their small businesses. These components were even more critical within smaller communities of people.

Growing up in the same hometown, we strongly believed that entrepreneurs in our own community faced this same problem: There is a lack of support and exposure which prohibits their businesses from thriving as well as they could. This issue also prevented aspiring entrepreneurs from moving forward with their dreams.

My friend and I are members of a non-profit organization aimed at empowering the youth in our community. A fellow member of the organization was in agreeance with our views and proposed coordinating an event that would unite experienced and aspiring entrepreneurs all in one location to receive/provide support and exposure. We believe that the voice and actions of the youth are powerful, so our objective was to make this a millennial-led event. We wanted to shift from the community’s traditional ways and introduce something new. For this event to work, we needed the millennials to buy in; their involvement is critical to begin this shift.

The outcome of the event, in my opinion, was not as successful as we projected it to be. The rainy weather played a role in the number of attendees present; the amount of time dedicated to planning affected the execution of the event; and a lack of emphasis on marketing drew excitement from a younger crowd, but it wasn’t enough to make their presence known at the event.

Critiquing this work and its process can lead to a better and more impactful event should we do this, or something similar, again. I strongly believe that, in the end, this project suffered from scale; but it could have possibly gained much from it. Success to us, the organizers, meant numbers and value – how many people were in attendance and whether our audience gained value from this event. However, I believe our blind spots would have included the community: In what ways could they, too, have benefitted from attending the event?

Much was learned from this project that I believe will be attributed to the work I seek to do moving forward. Having a discussion and/or gathering data from both experienced and aspiring businesses owners would have led to the development of a solution the audience believed would’ve been more impactful. Drawing in ideas from our blind spot(s) would have also provided a level of detail that we may not have considered. I believe this project confirmed what I and many in this community know: To achieve success, we need unity and everyone’s involvement. I think all stakeholders in this project/event wanted to gain something from it. After this critique, I am looking forward to giving this project another shot.

Hi, everyone! My name is Britney Johnson. I’m a first year, master’s student in the Viral Communications group at the Media Lab.

I was born and raised in Surry, Virginia (a small, but special, town about 1.5 hours southeast of Richmond). Before joining MAS, I was an Applied Cybersecurity intern conducting IoT research to develop a framework that would help defend against adversaries. Prior to that, I obtained my master’s degree in computer science (specializing in social computing) from Georgia Tech. My bachelor’s degree is also in computer science (with a minor in leadership studies), which I earned from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia.

I am a lover of all things inspirational that promotes optimism, uplift, unity, and love. My passion has always been for the community; thus, I’ve been involved in numerous community-serving organizations since I was 10 years old. I’m interested in narrowing down how to incorporate technology in the communities I serve – in a way that is engaging, relatable, and impactful. I’m excited about the dialogue and plethora of ideas that will be generated from this course.

Looking forward to a great semester! – Britney