Last week we presented our completed field guides to the class and listened to feedback on our work.
Overall I now feel pretty disappointed about the field guide I made. I worked very hard on this, both on the actual research part and the making of the finished product, but I don't think that hard work is perceivable in the final result. I am happy with what I accomplished, but those accomplishments are internal to me and are not something other people will perceive or appreciate.
My biggest struggle on this project was shifting my thinking away from a business school-like treatment of home ownership and towards something more conceptual and non-financial. Although the financial aspects of home ownership are important for people to learn about, that information isn't going to come from me. It is far too unpleasant for me to think about and it isn't what I'm willing to spend my time on at ITP.
Although I do feel I was successful in my efforts to shift my thinking towards the non-financial aspects of home ownership and I do feel good about that, accomplishing that doesn't by itself make the end result anything other than mediocre.
Unfortunately one of the key criticisms of the field guide I received is that I need to show the inputs to home ownership in addition to the outputs. What are the prerequisites for prospective home owners who want to buy their own homes? What about people who feel home ownership is completely out of reach? What can those people do to realize the benefits described in this field guide?
The answers to these questions all relate to financial literacy. This subject is very important and can be answered but covering that is one of the things I was trying to stay away from.
Another problem with my field guide is the intended audience was not clear. I wanted this field guide to be for community leaders and elected officials, not ordinary citizens. Also, all of the research I did was on home ownership for low to middle income communities and directly pertains to those groups. My field guide doesn't communicate either of these things at all.
To address these problems as best I can I will modify the text to more directly identify the intended audience and make it clear that the information is intended to address low to middle income communities. As to financial literacy, that's a can of worms I'm not going to touch. I realize that the final field guide is still going to be mediocre, but that's something I'm going to have to live with.
I have tentatively made the modifications to the field guide and I will make another blog post when I feel it is final and ready to be printed out and submitted to Marina's field guide archive.