EMDD Launches Global World Water Day Design Challenge, #MyWaterStory

Students from the Center for Emerging Media Design & Development have launched the #MyWaterStory campaign in partnership with leading journalists and educators from Circle of Blue and the Project WET Foundation. #MyWaterStory is a social media campaign focused on engaging people in a global conversation about the values and value of water.

The #MyWaterStory campaign prompts audiences from around the world to share stories on social media related to their lives and communities using the hashtag #MyWaterStory. The campaign’s website is the central hub for the social media conversation, leading up to the World Water Day activities hosted at the Vatican on March 22, 2017.

“The power of social media can be harnessed in innovative ways to create global conversations around big problems that we — everyone — must begin to have,” said Dr. Jennifer Palilonis the director for the Center of EMDD. “The EMDD program was built to teach students how to use design thinking, cross-platform storytelling, and user experience research to help build platforms for solving these types of problems.”

Through the #MyWaterStory campaign, people from around the world can submit water stories through two websites: worldwatervalues.org and bluerootsproject.org. The worldwatervalues.org website chronicles six water themes that include prompts that encourage people to think about the value of water in their lives. Multimedia stories can be submitted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #MyWaterStory or directly to the site. Users are able to respond to the prompts with multimedia content, such as videos, audio, tweets, photos, artistic work and more.

Watershed Event
The #MyWaterStory campaign focuses on resetting the understood value and values of water by creating new networks, generating inspiring and lasting stories, educating and engaging an international audience, and heightening the urgency for action by policy makers, innovators, and the public. #MyWaterStory serves as a way to capture and filter responses to this global water conversation that will culminate during World Water Day, March 22, 2017.

A three-day event at the Vatican from March 21-March 23 — “Watershed: Replenishing Water Values for a Thirsty World” — will gather inspiring speakers, scientists, artists, storytellers, musicians, and historians for a live-streamed, interactive broadcast. EMDD students and their work will be featured in the weeks leading up to and during the event.

Additionally, the project team team will work with project partners to collect, analyze, and inform World Water Day sessions. They will also travel to Rome as part of the Circle of Blue production team, March 20-25 and help facilitate #MyWaterStory activities.

“I’ve honed my skills as a researcher and media producer through this project. The Blue Roots Project has allowed me to be critical, collaborative and creative in ways I never thought were possible. The real challenge was developing a project that combined storytelling and fact-finding in a way that allowed people to connect to these issues on a personal level,” said Jessica Pettengill, Blue Roots Project research strategist.

How it Began
The EMDD partnership with Circle of Blue began during the Spring 2016 semester as part of the EMDD research and creative projects labs.

In the early stages of development, the project team conducted months of ethnographic, academic and similar case research to establish a problem space. Then, the team held brainstorm sessions and prototyping exercises with audience members to inform the various elements of #MyWaterStory. A soft launch of the project was released in November 2016 allowed the team to conduct usability tests with audience members to refine and iterate what is now the #MyWaterStory campaign.

“As the producer of this project, my main responsibility is making sure we’re making progress efficiently and progressively. This experience has shown me how important iteration is to the design thinking process. As a team we are always analyzing what we have designed and coming up with ways to improve our project,” said Briee Eikenberry, Blue Roots Project producer.

Project Partners
This project builds on an eight-year collaboration with Circle of Blue, a nonprofit news organization that reports on the global freshwater resource crisis. Circle of Blue was founded in 2000 by leading journalists and scientists and has an intense focus on fresh water and its relationships to food, energy, climate, and health. Circle of Blue has created a breakthrough model of front-line reporting, data collection, design, and convening. The organization is cited across grassroots networks, research journals, mainstream and niche media, consultancies, risk analysis reports, ministerial meetings, and high-level scenario sessions. Circle of Blue received the Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Award in 2012.

With the Project Wet Foundation, the EMDD project team also developed teacher resources that include educational materials for a global audience of K-12 teachers who want to integrate discussions about the value of water and World Water Week into their class lesson plans. Teachers can also upload their classroom responses to special K-12 water story prompts.

Blue Roots Project Team:
Briee Eikenberry, Project Producer
Sarah Janssen, Storyworld Architect
Aiste Manfredini, Communication Strategist
Jessica Pettengill, Research Strategist

Faculty & Staff Team Leaders:
Dr. Jennifer Palilonis, George & Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Multimedia Journalism
Faith Kellermeyer, EMDD Project Manager

Dr. Jennifer Palilonis (jageorge2@bsu.edu)
George & Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Multimedia
Co-Director, Center for Emerging Media Design & Development

Carl Ganter (jcarl@circleofblue.org)
Co-Founder & Director
Circle of Blue

Laura Herd (lauraherd@circleofblue.org)
Project Manager
Circle of Blue

Brianna Eikenberry (beikenberry@bsu.edu)
Blue Roots Project Producer & graduate student
Center for Emerging Media Design & Development
Ball State University

Dennis Nelson  (dennis.nelson@projectwet.org)
President & CEO
Project WET Foundation