No that’s not a typo. It’s what I’m now calling integrated interactions. It’s to the point, and a heck of a lot less syllables. This entire year has been about making things to influence and integrate the members of the CD Community at CIA’s interactions. I’d be lying if I told you everything went to plan, but I’d be telling an even bigger lie if I said things aren’t slowly changing for the better.

The importance of integrating interactions is only superseded by having an experience, but as you know from reading every word in this book (wink wink) that these truly are the same thing. Without a planned definition (an experience) interactions have no way of being integrated. They are only single occurrences with no greater meaning than whatever happens in that interaction.

The interactions I have been targeting this year are slowly but surely integrating into an experience. The commonalities I have worked very hard to instill in each type of interaction are what is pulling them together. These are qualities of conversation, comfort, self-expression, and passion. Emotion transcends these qualities and is what is giving meaning to these interactions, allowing them to integrate.

This project I have worked on all year has truly been a learning experience for me. I have learned how to engage people in a way where they genuinely feel like I care, because I do care. I think this approach has helped people feel as though I’m working with them, rather than for them. This principle is what I believe the new culture should be based on.

What Works

I discovered this year that you can’t completely influence an interaction and you can only plan for the near future. When people are put into a situation where they need to make a decision, they look back at their previous experiences for guidance. Due to the fact that not everyone has the same experiences, interactions will always be interpreted in slightly to greatly different ways. But what you can plan for is what they will get out of the experience that integrates those interactions. That experience will always be growing and changing into something even better suited for a community.

So what actually worked this year? I would argue that it all worked on varying levels. The identity of the department was well received, and people were excited to hear that they could break it and remake it. I think that having this option to create something for yourself as a designer is very important. There isn’t enough emphasis on designing for personal joy (anywhere) in my opinion. I think that the identity is doing a good job at pulling the things I made together visually.

With the person-to-person interactions I think the most effective part is that people have developed comfortable relationships in which they have conversations much more frequently than before this project. Talk CD! was kind of a flop because people didn’t want to talk about design outside of class, but it did start these relationships off in a good way. Since the first event that broke the ice for everyone, it is my observation that members of this community are much more open with each other.

As far as the person-to-interface interactions I am unsure how it will play out. Enough time has not passed since the website was finished to create any reasonable observations. I do believe that if it is embraced and updated regularly that it will fulfill its goal of creating online conversations that help members of the community grow. Only time will tell. I can say that with the initial excitement from the beta testers, I am optimistic that it will be used as a tool for everyone.

The person-to-environment interactions are doing quite well at the time of writing this. People are so much more pleasant and comfortable while working in the studio. It truly does put its inhabitants into a much healthier state of mind for designing, communicating, and collaborating. I am thrilled at the reception it has had, and I think that in the coming years it will attract more and more people to work in it after hours, which in the end builds the CD Culture even more.

The things that I’ve made and the interactions they are meant to influence are the heart and soul of the CD Experience that I have designed [for]. It is important to always remember that however effective all of these things are for anybody, that the reason they are effective is because they are being embraced and nurtured. Without embracing them and working with them to grow, you cannot hope to have the CD Experience.

The Long Run

I’d like to share a universal principle with you: the past is where everything went wrong, the present is where we fix it, and the future is what we look forward to. The CD Community’s culture was shattered at the beginning of this school year, and I spent the year working with my community to fix it. The future of the CD Community will reap the benefits of our work this year.

Anyone who would say that the past doesn’t matter is crazy. It is the reason why we are where we are today. It is where we had our experiences that shape our present interactions. But the important thing to always remember is to not live in the past. You can only experience in the present, and these experiences are what create change. The reasons why this project needed to be done are truly because of a lapse in leadership and personal relationships that left the community with an ineffective culture. It is important to learn from the mistakes of the past and change for the better. We must move forward to new and better experiences.

This year long project that I have just wrapped up has affected me in so many different ways. It has given me joy, fostered new friendships, taught me to be a leader, stressed me out to the point of exhaustion, and even made me sick enough to spend a night in the hospital. I truly have poured every ounce of myself into this project not for myself, but because I believe that it is something worthwhile. I want this community that I have been a part of for the past three years to grow and prosper regardless of where I end up.

I have learned this year that patience is truly something I need to work on. I was expecting instant change out of this project with minimal push back from my audiences. I thought that every member of CD would be on board to change and have a great year of interacting amongst each other while building relationships and skills. I learned that there will always be those who resist change and just recede back into what they are currently comfortable with, regardless of it being the healthiest action. I did get through to many people though and I think the rest of their time at CIA will be all the better because of it. I experienced that if you are trying to change someone’s behavior or culture, you need to think in terms longer than a year. It is something that changes slowly over time.

Culture is something that is ever evolving, something that changes as the people who experience it change. Communities are representations of those who they serve. Their first objective is not to make someone into something, but to serve people in the way that they need it to.

I see my thesis as a success only if it continues. I have developed an experience to integrate the interactions members of this community have everyday. The things I made this year were well received, and the conversations I shared with my community were invaluable. The CD culture is now in a transition period where it will either mature into something great, or end up where it was at the beginning of the year. I have hope that with the proper leadership and personal relationships that this experience will continue to grow and mature. It will make CD rise to its fullest potential and beyond.

The future is now in the hands of The CD Community. I wish you luck and that you let your passion guide you.