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In Process ⟶ Gates Foundation


How can you build trust within your community?


Designers: Members of the Youth Ambassadors Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center

Date Released: September 2018

Goal: Design an experience that invites people to experience trust with a person they’ve never met before.

Step 1

Define the Cause


Empathy is important because it helps us to communicate while breaking down barriers Adriana Cruz Renton High School

Step 2

Research & Discover


Seattle Design Festival 2018 Poster.
Seattle Design Festival 2018 Poster.

The theme of the 2018 Seattle Design Festival was trust. Members of the Youth Ambassadors Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center were charged with the task of creating a space that reflected the theme of trust and brought the community together.

The installation would launch during at Block Party, a two-day street fair at the 2018 Seattle Design Festival. Following the festival, the designers made plans to travel the installation to different schools across the region.

Seattle Design Festival 2018. Touch by GGLO. Design by Brandon Peters.
Seattle Design Festival 2018. Touch by GGLO. Design by Brandon Peters.

The audience at the Seattle Design Festival consisted of many members of the Seattle design community and the general public of all ages and abilities. Following the festival, the installation would need to be geared toward students and educators of all ages and backgrounds.

Still from Seattle Design Festival video.
Still from Seattle Design Festival video.

Youth Ambassadors recruited the support of Studio Matthews, Storytellers for Change, and Ambassador Stories to serve as advisors and collaborators in their design process.

Step 3

Think, Make & Evaluate


The team wanted to create an experience that allowed people to experience trust, rather than have it explained to them. They began by asking themselves how they might invite people into a space where they can have this interaction with someone they’ve never met before.

In their discussions, they determined that inviting people to share stories would be the most effective means to build trust between two people meeting for the first time. To help break the ice, they could provide various story prompts.

We knew the answer was stories. After all, what brings us closer to others, what helps us to achieve proximity and connection, is getting to know each other. Elizabeth Diaz Tahoma High School

Step 4

Outcome & Impact

#OurSpace encourages people to meet a new person, pick a story prompt, sit down to have a conversation, take a picture to commemorate the moment, and share the picture on the #OurSpace wall.


A wall of the installation is decorated with the pictures of all the people who met and shared stories with each other. Each photograph is tagged with a word or phrase that captures their shared experience.

Installation materials were chosen to be sustainable, consisting primarily of cardboard and wood. It was also critical to create an installation that could be compact, easily assembled and transportable, to ensure #OurSpace could be set-up the same day as the festival and travel to other locations at the end of the festival.

The community of Youth Ambassadors expands across the Puget Sound Region, with each of the student members attending a different school. Youth Ambassadors include students in Sedro Wolley in the Skagit Valley, Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Bellevue and Seattle in King County, and Maple Valley and Tacoma in Pierce County.

The #OurSpace installation will travel to each of the ambassador’s schools to help ignite discussions about building empathetic, inclusive, and equitable school cultures.

Experiences like this, where we open up and step outside the norms that have been set by society will help us to not only trust each other but to believe in the greater good again. Arianna Njonge Charles Wright Academy