Designer
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RE-UNION

Experience Design/Product Design

Re-union

Team:  Jenna Witzleben, Jiani Lin, Teng Yu, Sowmya Iyer, Julia Lindpaintner     

Special thanks to: Manuel Toscano and Natalie Balthrop for the guidance and support.   

We have never been more aware of the polarization in our country, and these divisions are often deeply felt even within families. Looking beyond this election and towards Thanksgiving, the team designed RE-UNION—a game that generates unexpected ways into conversations about political topics at family gatherings. “We feel strongly that we need new ways to talk to each other about politics if we are to overcome partisan and ideological divisions and collaborate across differences,” said the designers. “If we can’t do it with our family, how can we do it as a country?”

Project: Experience Design, Product Design   

Role: design research, concept development, graphic designer, prototype making and photography.

To play, participants spin two wheels, one with political topics like “Immigration Laws” and “Minimum Wage,” the other with Thanksgiving items like “Turkey,” “Pie,” and “Gravy”—to generate random combinations. When three combinations have been made, they have two minutes to come up with connections between the ideas. The designers elaborated: “The point is to use the Thanksgiving item as a way into a conversation about the political topic. For example, if you had ‘Immigration Laws & Fork’ you could say, ‘I think we’re at a fork in the road on immigration…’ or ‘Immigration is a really sharp, pointy issues, with a lot of prongs to it.’”

Some Matching Examples:

Death Penalty + Carving = “You know, carving reminds me of the death penalty. It just carves people out of other people’s lives.”

Marriage Equality + Cranberry = “Some people think turkeys just don’t taste as good without the cranberry sauce. But not everyone likes cranberries. You should let the people who want cranberry have cranberry. And just because someone else is having cranberries doesn’t mean you have to as well.”

Gun Control + Cornucopia = “If we don’t have gun control, it will be like the cornucopia scene in the Hunger Games.”

Drinking Age + Turkey = “Don’t be a turkey, lower the drinking age!”

Immigration + Fork = “Don’t fork up our immigration policy!”

Minimum Wage + Cornucopia = “I would’ve liked to bring a cornucopia of food to this party but I only make minimum wage.”

Abortion + Pumpkin = “Are gourds aborted pumpkins or are pumpkins aborted gourds?”

Immigration + Carving = “Is immigration causing us to carve up our country into fragments?”

Gun Control + Gravy = “Does gun control derail the gravy train of 2nd amendment extremists?”