Restoring Roots – 4/27 Launching our transmedia campaign

This week on Earth Day we launched our transmedia campaign on Twitter and Instagram using #restoringroots. We started posting original photos and began following like-minded organizations and people.


We also started work on a series of scripts for participants in the campaign to use. Here’s a sample script that Andres wrote usign #restoringroots #green and #healingland :

Script 1:

Would you like to help us heal the land and promote sustainable gardening practices? Help us spread the message of environmental consciousness.  Tweet or share an image on instagram with the hashtag #restoringroots and _______

Express your love for the earth! Share and tweet:

I will try to live more sustainably by ____________________.

I can help heal the land by ________________.

I can help nourish my community by ____________________.

I want to grow __________________ in my neighborhood.


JP Local First, CitySoil, and Renew Boston are now following us on Twitter. All three would make good partner organizations for Restoring Roots. The biggest influencer following us is CityLife/Vida Urbana.

Our next steps are to continue posting content, and increase the frequency of posts. It was suggested in our small group sessions last week that we repost/retweet pictures from popular media sources, such as the Dept. of Interior’s popular Instagram feed. Another important step is to use analytics and start tracking our media presence and landing page.

Restoring Roots – Interviews and Updated Canvas

After last week’s class and a discussion about our project with Sasha and Evan, we decided to narrow down our idea to create a gardening app that could be used as an educational tool and personalized garden manager. Our ever-updating canvas can be found here.

With a clearer picture of what we want to create, we conducted interviews targeting  landscapers, arborists, clients or members of Restoring Roots, and homeowners/rental property owners. We developed different questions based on the interviewee’s occupation or relationship with Restoring Roots. Here’s our sample script for a land or property owner:

Have you ever had professional landscaping/permaculture/design services performed?

Have you ever had your landscaping redone or made any changes since the original design?

What might prevent you from hiring a professional for these services?

Have you ever grown your own food?  Do you enjoy seeing wildlife in the city?

How do you relate to outdoor spaces around your home or in your neighborhood?

Have you ever used an app or game about gardening or plant-related things? Plants vs zombies? Leafsnap? Farmville? Etc.

If you have kids, how important is it that your children grow up with a connection to the outdoors and gardening?

How do you keep track of what plants are in your garden?

How do you access information about those plants?

What is the main obstacle to you growing and using plants in the space that is available to you?

What do you know about permaculture? What is your level of interest in it?

Andreas interviewed a property owner and mother living in Cambridge. She had hired a landscaper twice but found it expensive, so she wanted to do it herself and keeps a vegetable garden in the backyard with space for her kids and dog to play. She had never used a gardening app but takes pictures of her flowers and plants with her phone. Additionally, she recorded gardening information found online in a notebook and was interested in learning more about permaculture and rain catchment.

A father from Somerville renting his property used a landscaper to design and manage his yard, citing lack of knowledge and time as preventing him from growing plants himself. He did not do anything formal to keep track of his yard, simply using visual cues to assess his plants. He was somewhat interested in learning more about permaculture. As a parent, he highly valued his children’s connection to the outdoors.

Bridget interviewed homeowners in Amherst. They live in a new neighborhood where almost all of the houses had professional landscaping. They noted that most houses started out with similarly landscaped backyards, but over time the homeowners changed their properties so that now everyone has a different and distinct yard.

Their neighborhood is near a protected wetland, so their landscaper advised against a lawn with many chemicals in the grass – this means their front yard is filled with weeds and they cannot kill gypsy moths with pesticides. But not all landscapers are conscientious about the nearby nature, so some of their neighbors have lawns filled with chemicals. The homeowners contacted the town about the toxic yards and suspect that the landscaper just comes by at night and has not changed his practices.

The interviews revealed how homeowners use landscaping to achieve a goal – such as to increase privacy from neighbors or make a backyard kid-friendly or colorful in all seasons. The cost of landscaping or gardening can be high and some homeowners tried doing the work themselves, while others found they lacked the knowledge necessary to design their own projects. Almost all interviewees had professional landscaping done, to varying degrees of satisfaction. All cited the cost of landscaping as a deterrent from seeking professional services.

We still have more interview transcripts to complete and more interviews to conduct (especially targeting landscapers and Restoring Roots’ clients) but just from the information we collected this week we have lots to think about!

Restoring Roots: First Meeting

On Monday Bridget, Andres, Chris, and Hannah got together with Noah at Clover in Kendall Square (since Restoring Roots does not have a brick and mortar location) to brainstorm.

We began by learning more from Noah about the needs and goals of Restoring Roots. Next we identified our “hard skills,” such as media production, writing, or programming to start us off with a general idea of what skills the group has and would like to further develop. We used post-its to situate our ideas graphically between a number of umbrella projects, such as working on a web or mobile app, or creating a physical product prototype.


We discussed how aspects of social media, community and client outreach and gamification may be applied to a digital project. We talked about developing a plant care and information tool that provides clients with tailored tips and instructions for their plants. A centralized, accessible information collection would be useful since Restoring Roots spends a lot of time educating clients individually. We also thought about a making an education game where users take care of plants, including digital versions of the real plants in their gardens. This app could suggest new plants based on the user’s preferences and be integrated with social media.

We considered the possibility of prototyping a physical product. Since Restoring Roots income is season-dependent, such a project could provide a source of income during the winter. We discussed developing a tool to measure the impact of the client’s garden, looking at how much water was saved, food was grown, or CO2 removed. Another idea proposed using Arduino and sensors to create a garden monitoring system.

Lastly, we discussed various community-focused projects. For example, we proposed putting on a showcase of urban sustenance food providers and community gardeners. Another proposal was to launch a participatory mapping project to identify unused or poorly used land that could be transformed for community gardening and food production.

Intro: Hannah Harris

Hi everyone! I’m a senior at Wellesley studying astrophysics with a minor in Russian. I grew up in Pennsylvania and spent my last year of high school in Hamburg, Germany as an exchange student.

In addition to my physics research on black holes, I’ve worked on a wide variety of projects which blend education, policy, social justice, and game development. Last year I designed and created a game about space exploration for 3-6 year-olds on Android. Over the summer I spoke at a conference in Munich predicting how crowdfunding will impact astronomy, looking specifically at changes in priorities, policies, and the need for adaptive outreach. I’m currently working on a project to identify ethnocentric stereotyping through the use of accents in Disney’s animated films and discover whether or not foreign language dubs do the same. Most recently over winter break I studied the equitability of resettlement and education programs for refugee and migrant populations and their new host communities.

I’m interested in how codesign may elevate the agency of populations we traditionally regard as passive, such as the target audience of a game or students for whom curricula is developed. Outside of academics, I’m a Wikipedian, I sing and play the bodhran, and am a member of Wellesley’s Shakespeare Society. I’m looking forward to our collaborations this semester!