Benjamin Winter

Student / Benjamin Winter, Parsons The New School for Design/MFA Transdisciplinary Design


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Gentrification Offsetting, A Neighborhood Exchange: This is a product of collaboration, because Ben believes the serious challenges facing today’s world have become too complex and interconnected to be addressed by any one designer or discipline.

What's Gentrification Offsetting, A Neighborhood Exchange?
Gentrification Offsetting, A Neighborhood Exchange, is a service design concept piloted in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. The goal is to raise awareness about gentrification and foster more inclusive forms of change in vulnerable urban communities. The service confronts individuals with the unintended consequences of their presence in their community and encourages them to be more sensitive and supportive of their neighbors. 

By playfully challenging neighbors to directly support each other's best interests, this service aims not only to preserve the socioeconomic and cultural diversity of their neighborhood, but also to foster new relationships and greater understanding throughout the community. 

What's an example of how the project could work?
Neighbors could take an online quiz and receive a "gentrification score" rating their effect on their neighborhood, along with ideas on how to offset some effects, which may be seen as negative. For example, it may be suggested that you offer to teach a skill you possess to a neighbor in exchange for, well, nothing! Sharing is key. 

How was this idea conceived?
I came up with the idea for Gentrification Offsetting, with fellow students Francis Carter and Jacqueline Cooksey during a one-week, intensive design course that is a part of Parsons' Transdisciplinary Design MFA program. I also used this service idea as a prototype in the Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship course, where he was able to gain feedback from other students in different disciplines, like management and policy analysis.

What inspires Ben?
I'm fascinated by the ideas of carbon footprinting and offsetting, LETSystems, and sharing economies. I believe in the value of skill sharing and works across disciplinary lines, engaging other designers, non-designers, users, and stakeholders to find design opportunities in complex social and environmental systems.

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