What is TweetGrass?

TweetGrass (twitter + wheat grass) is a playful, interactive installation designed to encourage sustainable living and work habits in existing local communities. Inspired by class talks with Maya Lin on her latest memorial for natural habitats (entitled “What is missing?”), as well as Clay Shirky on community building, a group of first-year students at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU decided to see if we could create a project that would encourage within our community pro-active care for the environment.

Our initial concept was simple: members of our community could tweet their sustainable living actions to a physical screen located on the ITP floor and the amount of tweets would regulate the amount of water distributed to some wheat grass located underneath the screen.  TweetGrass would thus feature two related types of information: 1) the tweets display specific ways in which people contribute to their sustainable living and working environments, and 2) the health of the “tweetgrass” indicates whether more contribution was needed.  As community contributions grow, so does the tweetgrass.  Or, if people stop contributing, then the tweetgrass dies into a memorial.

How does TweetGrass work?

The basic TweetGrass set-up consists of a screen displaying clouds of incoming tweets, a box of wheat grass underneath the screen, an irrigation system for the wheat grass, and optional TweetGrass recycling bins.  The TweetGrass interaction has four parts:

Step 1: Do something to help your environment (e.g. shop at a thrift store, buy a reusable water bottle, throw someone else’s garbage away, etc)

Step 2: Tweet your contribution to @tweetgrassnyu*

Step 3: Watch the screen’s tweet-clouds grow bigger until it reaches a critical mass and starts raining real water onto community wheat grass

Step 4: Harvest your “tweetgrass” for some super-healthy juice shots!

*Option: Those who don’t wish to twitter can also participate by throwing away their recycling in the TweetGrass recycling bins located underneath the TweetGrass stand.  Each time someone recycles an item, the TweetGrass bin will register the action and add a cloud to the screen.