Thursday, April 27, 2017

Green Space Outdoor Equipment Commons Campaign

Griffin Mims/Danny Gamboa
Nathan Goltz/Paige Ourada
Devon Gottsch
Comm 250
Commons Portfolio

The current generation of college students are not spending enough time outdoors, and our campus has beautiful spaces (Green Space, Centennial Mall, etc) that are not being utilized for outdoor activities and healthy living. Many people would enjoy being active on a nice day, however, they lack the resources they need to help them do this (soccer balls, footballs, frisbees etc.). By having outdoor equipment available to be checked-out from the Nebraska Union and Residence Halls, these spaces on campus will be frequented and used more often. This will also promote exercise and campus wellness.
    By providing outdoor equipment (frisbees, balls, etc.), to the students, faculty, and staff of Nebraska, we would be pushing outdoor physical activity and healthy living, while also taking advantage of the Green Space. Therefore, this proposal is the most suitable and efficient solution to the lack of outdoor activity on the campus Green Spaces.
    Our goal was to promote physical activity while utilizing the outdoor spaces provided by the University (Green Space, Centennial Mall, etc.). By providing fun, outdoor equipment that would be readily available to all students, faculty, and staff, we sought to increase outdoor activity and involvement throughout campus.
When our group came up with our commons campaign idea, we were all super excited for it, but the bit looming question was whether we would be able to make it into a reality. We knew that the answer to this question would dictate the impact and message that we were attempting to bring to campus. We got into contact with the director of the Nebraska Unions, Ryan, and the assistant director, Brent, and shared with them our campaign proposal to see if the idea would be possible. The proposal itself was a rhetorical tool for us to use, as it was littered with logos from the foundation of idea and message. They took a look at our proposal and liked the idea, inviting us to a meeting to further discuss our idea. During our meeting we discussed the logistics of our proposal and the changes that would need to be made in order to make it a reality. The Unions were considering either putting in a new, small building next to the union fountain where students could rent equipment, or putting communal boxes where students donate and use equipment of their own free will. The latter option is the one that the Union has decided to move forward with and pursue. The Unions said that they would provide funding for the boxes and equipment, but the amount is yet to be determined. Our group is excited about the communal boxes because they will promote campus community, unity, and trust, as use of the boxes will not be regulated. Of course, this will also be a constraint if the student body does not buy into the idea of respecting the communal resources and equipment. The details of the boxes and their functions will be hashed out during the summer, and we will remain a part of the process until its completion.
After working with the Unions and knowing that our proposal was coming to fruition, we began to work out the different rhetorical canons that we would use to battle our constraints. We knew that our largest constraint would be a lack of awareness of the equipment that would readily available to the students as they arrived on campus in the fall. To combat this obstacle, our group created a Facebook page that would be used during the summer and fall to promote our campaign. We also made two promotional videos that we posted to the page and to our personal Facebook pages, as well as designed a graphic for our profile photo. While the large majority of the audience that was reached by our page and videos were friends, once the Unions have solidified the plans for the boxes and equipment, we will be able to use the page and videos as rhetorical canons to reach the student body via the university’s social media.
The next constraint that we address regarded the equipment itself. We wanted to find out which equipment students would like to use and whether they would actually use it. We also wanted to know if having equipment be available for students use would increase the use of the green spaces on campus. To answer these questions we used a short series of Twitter polls and a longer survey via our Facebook page. The results of the Twitter poll and survey can be found in our Attached Evidence Document. It is significant to note, however, that both the poll and survey showed positive results in increased usage of Green Space Campus Areas and usage of equipment. They also gave us a first look at the equipment that students would most likely use on the Green Spaces. While, yet again, most of our audience/participants were friends who were not representative of the entire student body, the results and the surveys themselves gave us a premise to start with when trying to reach the whole of the student body in the late summer and early fall.
As the project will progress, we will undoubtedly run into more obstacles that will require new and innovative rhetorical canons to combat them. These constraints may include students not respecting the communal aspect of the equipment boxes. A rhetorical canon that may be put into use is making the communal boxes and their free-will use normal with incoming freshman. One of our group members, Griffin Mims, is a NSE Orientation Leader, and will attempt to incorporate a short segment on the boxes during the NSE campus tours. This will normalize the idea of taking and returning the equipment to the boxes. Another tool that could be used would be videos posted to UNL social media outlets explaining the idea and showing students donating, using, and returning the equipment. In addition to this, when the survey asked if students would respect the communal aspect of the boxes, 75% said that they would. Indicating that the current student body would be willing to buy into the communal equipment boxes as well. These rhetorical tools would start to build the culture of sharing, and avoiding a “Tragedy of the Commons”. In addition to this, when the survey asked if students would respect the communal aspect of the boxes, 75% said that they would.
Our Commons Campaign is solving the lack of outdoor activity on the Green Spaces on campus by providing outdoor equipment for students to use on those spaces. We brought our idea forward to the Unions and will be continuing to work with them until the campaign launches next fall. We used different rhetorical canons for each of the constraints to our campaign. As the campaign moves forward, the common spaces on campus will be used

*See attached Document*

    Looking back at our project, we were satisfied with the overall results, but there is always room for improvement if we were to do this project over again. Our group could have promoted our idea better by talking to people in person on campus instead of just making surveys and polls online. Each group member reached out to his/her Twitter followers by asking them to cast their vote to a number of polls we created. We also made a Facebook page, and shared it so all of our friends and family could see. While this was very effective in collecting large amounts of data regarding our Commons Campaign, online forums are often less genuine and do not leave room for elaboration.  
Our group could also have started promoting our campaign earlier. Most of our social media actions began around mid-April. If we had started getting the word out earlier, more students would be talking about our campaign and spreading the word to others. However, since most of us belong to a fraternity/sorority, it was not difficult to get the ball rolling. Our group had a good start with reaching a broader network, we just had to push a little further in order to reach a variety of groups on campus.
Overall, our experience was very positive. We feel like our campaign actually made an impact, and our idea could easily take flight and be implemented in the next year or so. We received positive feedback from the Union, and are so fortunate that the support for this idea is more than anticipated. The excitement we received from this campaign was contagious, which made us even more perseverance to make this a reality. When the sun is out, the fun is always out.

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