What is the future of Utica?
Hello! My name is Krista Siniscarco. I am currently a student in the Design Management, MFA program at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia. Before returning to school, I worked for several years in the worlds of graphic design and educational technology in central New York.
I was born and raised in Utica, NY and consider the city my home. My family is here and every neighborhood holds memories for me. Therefore, the population and economic decline that Utica has been experiencing causes me great concern. This is a community with a rich culture and history that should be cherished and preserved.
For many years after receiving my undergraduate degree in graphic design I worked in the design field as an instructional designer and multimedia specialist. I participated in challenging projects and built strong partnerships, but I always felt that something was missing. There was a piece of the puzzle that I couldn’t quite describe or define by was lurking in the background. When I started to explore graduate programs, I just happened stumbled across design management and suddenly a light bulb went off in my head. I didn’t completely understand what design management was but I knew it could lead me down the path I was in search of.
After 2-years as a student in the Design Management program at the Savannah College of Art and Design, I’ve finally found my passion and professional trajectory. I’ve been immersed in design research, analysis, synthesis, prototyping, defining, redefining and reframing problems. I’ve been exposed to and excited by design thinking and the non-linear and creative problem solving processes. I’ve found that the piece of the puzzle I was previously missing was a new and holistic way to view, understand and approach the puzzle itself. I have been particularly drawn to the concept of “wicked problems” and the design of social innovations—themes that have consistently run through my project work through my second year of graduate study.
When it came time to define my thesis topic, I choose something close to my heart. I wanted to explore the future of my hometown—the economically depressed, post-industrial, small city of Utica located in upstate New York. The tragedy of the rust-belt city is nothing new to the US. We often hear about the issues plaguing large cities like Detroit and Buffalo. But just like corporations that were deemed “too big to fail” by the government following the 2008 economic crash, perhaps these cities could also be considered too big to fail. But what about the smaller communities with similar problems and issues? Are we ignoring the cities with populations under 200,000 simply because no one would notice if they disappeared?
My goal for this study was to re-immerse myself in the community that I grew from and work with them to design tools to empower the citizens in shaping their future. My journey through this process has been cataloged by way of this blog. It is my hope that the people of Utica embrace and move forward with this process to become a leading example of revitalization in the post-industrial age.
If you have questions or comments about this project, or would like to be involved in the research, I would love to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org