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The Greenhouse Effect Detroit

Change by Design


[See PDF below for full final report]

[See for process documentation]


In this course, UofM students worked with Detroit Community High School students to design together for a semester. During the second half of the semester, we embarked on one intensive project wherein we: addressed a global issue locally, went through the design process, lesson planned for our one-hour-per-week Detroit class, implemented marketing and a business plan, and presented to a panel of school faculty.

In the effort to educate young people about the power of growing one's own food, our team of 8 (4 UofM and 4 Detroit) built a greenhouse and speculative technological elements (which we left in the school's community garden). Our group asked the question: how might we tackle food production during the winter months? Michigan, like many states around the country, has very long and snowy winters that do not provide ideal growing conditions. To address this global issue on a local level, we needed something that our students could relate to and would teach them about healthy eating along the way.


Our product is adding one piece to the larger, existing system that Detroit has made. The people are already showing a positive effort by coming together in communities and creating all these gardens.

Most designers are not afforded the chance to work alongside the recipients of their designs. We used our opportunity of working in a design group with people from mixed backgrounds and experiences to help the Detroit students be able to continue the great work their community has already started.

Our company name, The Greenhouse Effect, references an effect that is currently harming people and our planet because of human actions. In contrast, our effect will be bringing people together to spread health and sustainability throughout urban communities. By practicing human-centered design, our product becomes more than a mere greenhouse. Rather, it is a beacon of hope that brings people together.

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