The Issue

During a time in which the Governor of New York State had yet to make a decision on whether to ban fracking in 2014, the goal of this project was to bring together the pro-fracking and anti-fracking groups within a town in New York State where fracking could take place so that they can identify their shared concerns and influence the municipal-level decision-making process in their community.

Common Ground Convention is a MFA in Design for Social Innovation Thesis project designed to address the controversial issue of fracking (oil and gas hydraulic drilling) in New York State.

Design Research Methodology

STEP 1 Stories were researched and collected from people from both sides of the debate who have been affected by fracking in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. STEP 2 These stories were synthesized and produced into short audio segments that served as prompts. STEP 3 The community in Vestal, New York, were brought together for a one-day facilitation and workshop in which these audio stories were used to prompt dialogue.


Designed a facilitation guide and conversation tools into a digital tool kit for communities in New York State. Asides from Vestal, New York, the facilitation also took place in other towns such as Binghamton, New York, where local organizations facilitated the process using the facilitation tool kit created.


The outcome of the community dialogue in Vestal, New York was a first draft of road agreement laws in Vestal in which the community decided together on how to protect their shared resources, regardless of which side of the fracking debate they were on.