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HipTrips - A tourism program built by youth for youth. Travelers and locals will jump at the opportunity to explore and learn with guides who are their peers!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

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                                                 HIP TRIPS

                                         Calling all Tripsters!

A tourism program built by youth for youth.  Youth share their neighborhoods, their favorite places, and their passions with tour guests.  They are empowered as they tell their stories through tours. They actively explore and learn together.  Perhaps they try something new that alone they would never have given a chance.  The program will be a platform of creative confidence via participation in multiple experiences with peers, including leadership training, research, program design and tour guiding.  There will be continual interaction between youth who are at different stages of their education.  This will be an opportunity for mentoring and friendship.  Guides and guests will participate in activities that promote creative confidence including sketching, music, videography, photography, writing, physical challenges/dance, sports, and opportunities for spontaneity. 

The target users for this program are tripsters, youth, ages 13 - 24, teenagers, college students and post graduates. Youth will work in the program to build it.  Youth will untilize the program as tour guests.  We envision guests to be travelers, youth who relocate for education and employment, and local youth who want to experience a different part of their hometown.  

Platform - Marketing and Collateral to include website, TUMBLR BLOG, app, social media, and advertising via print, press, brand development and direct marketing.

The initial build will be out of a home base ideally a community based organization, such as a Y, which is working in the field of youth development. The Y as a sponsor is an excellent fit because many branches have hostels on site bringing tour guests directly to the program. As an international organization there is potential for scalability, if initial pilots in the USA are successful. 

Building the HipTrips program will require investigation and collaboration.  We will need community partners and most importantly student participants!  Important issues such as safety and liability must be addressed.  A complete program brief which includes all of this has been developed.  Please read it to see what HipTrips has to offer!  HIPTRIPS - PROGRAM BRIEF                                                                                       

BEHIND THE SCENES                                                                                                 The HipTrip program has been built on information gathered from many sources. Here is a look at the back story which includes wisdom gained from speaking with youth, outreach into the community for partners, and prototyping.                                Contacts & Conversations                                                                        


SPANISH HARLEM - LET'S PLAN TOGETHER_Results                                                                          

SURVEY FOR TARGET USERS                                                                                   WE ASKED YOUTH WHAT THEY THINK AND HERE ARE THE ANSWERS




This is a tour built by a fictitious group of teen and young adult guides for a group of three young women guests, ages 19-22. The guests are real people. They participated in this prototype.  The guests were in contact with the guides prior to the tour.  See prototype 1 for details of that encounter. The tour is intended to start at 11am and finish between 4 and 5pm.  Please see the tumblr blog for images and links that accompany this tour.

 East Harlem is a vibrant neighborhood which encompasses several communities.  We will see contemporary life as lived by locals.  You will see evidence of, and hear stories about culture, history, immigration, and gentrification of this New York City neighborhood.
                                                                                                                                       We will start our tour at el Marqueta on East 116 Street and Park Avenue, under the railroad bridge.  We will meet Aurelia Velez.  Mrs. Velez is 72 years old and has been working in this market for 42 years.  She is of Puerto Rican descent and was raised in this community.  She paints a colorful and nostalgic picture when speaking of the history of this market.  "On Saturdays everyone was here.  Families came in from Philadelphia and Connecticut to shop.  The entire family, aunts, uncles, cousins would meet here.  They sold food on this side of Park Avenue, clothing and shoes across the street.  It was many blocks long, the heart of shopping for this neighborhood.  Now it is small."  There is currently an effort to revitalize this market and there are signs of this.  The plans are for food and craft stalls.  In the spring and summer there is community salsa dancing on Saturday afternoons.  We will walk through the market before crossing Park Avenue to start our walk on East 116 Street.
                                                                                                                                       East 116 Street is a major business district in the neighborhood.  Here we will see evidence of the multicultural neighborhood that is the current El Barrio.  Recent immigration has brought an influx of Mexican families to this area.  Many are from the areas around Puebla and Oaxaca.  Some immigrants speak Mixtecan languages exclusively.   We will find many Mexican eateries and food carts here.  One not to miss store is the Mexico Plaza.  Frequented by locals,   everything in this store is imported from Mexico.  One can find a wide assortment of cowboy hats, belt buckles and boots.  An interesting stop on this street is the Casa Latina. This is a store which sells latin music, CDs, LPs, sheet music, and instruments.  This store is a beacon for artists in the community.  While researching this tour we had the fortune of meeting Eddie Montalvo, a grammy nominated Latin percussionist when he came in to see the proprietors of Casa Latina.
                                                                                                                                       As we continue our walk to 1st Avenue.  We will speak briefly about earlier immigration to this area.  At the turn of the 20th century there was a large immigrant population who settled here from Italy.  We will walk by Patsy's Pizza, a neighborhood landmark, since 1933.
                                                                                                                                      We continue by heading south towards Jefferson Park on 1st  Avenue and 114 street.  Here we have the opportunity to see local families watch and play soccer with their children.  One neighborhood teen told me "go to the back end that is where we will be.  The adults are up front."  Soccer is extremely popular amongst the Mexican immigrant families in this community.  Here we will have an opportunity to interact with families and teens and to join in kicking the ball around.  Everyone is welcome as per the teens we met playing here on our research trips. Maybe learn a few tricks?  After this we have a rest stop which includes sweets,  so let's move around and build up an appetite! (We will ask the guests today if they think some teens would like a longer stop here so that they can play in a game.)
                                                                                                                                       Our next stop is a delicious surprise.  Coffee break at Le Tropezienne Bakery.  This french bakery is a gem in any neighborhood!  Have a pastry, coffee and relax!  (We also have the option to stop here first and take our coffee back up to watch some soccer )
                                                                                                                                      From here we walk west on 110 Street to Park Avenue.   We will pass Ricardo's Brazilian Steakhouse on 2nd Avenue and 110 Street.  Next door is the Lorenz Dance Studio where one can learn to salsa! (Aside - We plan to include a Salsa lesson in the next tour to El Barrio.  Today we will go inside and have a small spontaneous introductory lesson.  One of the guests remarked during our conversations on email that they would be interested in seeing Salsa at el Marqueta.  It is only available there during the warm months.  We decided to include this as a surprise.  We hope the guests enjoy it.)

 We will see signs of gentrification as we walk on 110 Street towards Lexington Avenue.   We will hear more about this issue when we have our next break at the East Harlem Cafe.  We will meet with a local who will inform us on how gentrification is affecting families in this community.  Young people are now being pushed out unable to afford the high rents.  We arrive at Park Avenue and 110 Street.  Here we enter a community garden and within it is a "casita."   This is an example of vernacular architecture.  Wooden houses have been built in vacant abandoned lots by Puerto Rican immigrants in New York City.  Gardens are planted around them. What was once a sign of urban blight is now a social space for the community, connecting them to their common heritage and to nature.
                                                                                                                                       We  head back to Lexington Avenue.  The remainder of the tour will focus on the Puerto Rican community in El Barrio.  This area is rich in murals.  Many honor Latino cultural figures.  We will visit Taller Boricua, Workshop and Artist Gallery founded in 1970.  Here we will hear about the Nuyorican intellectual and cultural movement in New York City which started in the 1960s and 1970s.
We walk past the En Flor Garden on our way to Justo Botanico.  Here we will meet with the proprietor, Justo.  He is a spiritual adviser and he will educate us on the products and services that he offers to the community. 
Our final few stops are at the East Harlem Cafe for a drink, and La Casa Azul Bookstore where we can find books by Latino authors, many local to the area.  This store serves as a cultural hub for this community. 
Our next and last stop will be on 5th Avenue and 105 Street.  Here we can enter the Museo del Barrio or the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.  The choice is yours!

Inspired by our day we started a mapping project.  See some of the images above. More to be posted on the blog as our guests send them in!!  We will also post remarks/reviews of this pilot tour.


This program builds connections.  It brings people together.  It builds empathy and an understanding of our commonalities through active learning and shared experiences. It builds skills and knowledge.

It illustrates for youth that they are capable of making things happen.  They can flex their creative muscles and do just that. They have control, things do not just happen to them.  

It gives youth a new way of relating their experiences.  It allows youth to speak, to be heard, to engage and to act.


The surveys that I have developed and utilized are first small steps in acquiring useful information that can grow this program in a direction that users want.  Please read the RESPONSES.  Here you will find that the majority of the youth and parents believe this program will have a long term positive effect on their lives.  You will also find out why they think so.  You will find questions to the parents regarding whether the program will attract youth, their own and other kids, whether it will have a positive effect on building social skills and  academic skills, whether this program will be viable/useful in the developing world and whether it will build creative confidence. You will also find the reasons why they as parents would be motivated to encourage their kids to participate and what important concerns they have.  (Parent survey is brand new so there is less information but it is useful already.)  The remarks have opened the door to more questions. Please read the comments. They are thoughtful, honest, entertaining, and full of the right kind of information, straight from the user. I am always amazed that when you ask a young person something in a way that they can sense that you are listening, that they will tell you exactly what they think and feel.  The first order of business will be to consider renaming the program with the assistance of young people!  It appears that half of the teens and young adults do not like it at all.  For now though here is HipTrips



Thank you for your collaboration, feedback, and comments! 

Kelly Fooy 

Mandy Pichler 

Alexandra Lee 

Rachael Barrett 

Kirk Soderstrom  

Brad Filice

Sylvia Stein  

Thanks Mandy for the Educators Focus Group Questionnaire.  It is great and I look forward to seeing the results!  Thanks for your awesome input, and for your writing contributions throughout this refinement process. Thanks Kelly for the design work, the editing, tech support and everything behind the scenes!  Thanks Alexandra for the great build concerning safety issues, and for all of your feedback!  Thanks for the great brainstorming session in NYC Rachael and Sylvia, and for the continued dialogue. Thanks Kirk and Brad for your recent thoughtful comments and ideas.  I just added you to the team as you are helping to move HipTrips forward!

To the OpenIDEO Community:  Thank you for your contributions.  Each comment helps to build the HipTrips concept and move it forward!

*New* Refinement question: What will the future look like with your idea in it?

Update 12/6/13
It will look bright. Young people will be prepared to tackle problems within their communities. Youth learn that they are capable to make things happen. They develop creative confidence through the process of sharing, with their peers, mentors and their communities. Youth are the future. Youth that are tolerant, open, and confident in their abilities will be equipped to work together as they face many challenges in our society. I foresee long lasting friendships developing from this program. I foresee youth exploring beyond their backyards in this program. This will lead to new, different, and unexpected opportunities to connect.

Capable confident creative citizens are our communities’ best resource. Technology is important but it is the human capital that designs it, based on need. A program that enhances the development and creative abilities of youth, through storytelling and human connection, can impact the future in a positive way.

In the words of a 22 y/o New Yorker – “Hip Trips brings a narrative, a voice – it empowers the guide, and the tourist gets a personal connection. It allows the guide to understand - my life experience means something. We are connected to others. These things together create a cycle of positivity.”

In this challenge, we want to create ideas with young people, not for them. Outline how you’re planning to involve young people or other end-users (parents, teachers, etc) in designing, iterating or testing your idea during the Ideas phase.

Survey youth: Does this concept excite them. Invite them to brainstorm around structure of the basic program. What is inviting? What is boring? What would give a HipTrip tour that edge, that thing that makes you want to come back again and again?

Survey parents: How might they utilize a tour company like this. What ideas and suggestions do they have right now?

Involve local youth in prototyping a tour. Invite their friends for a trial run. Get feedback. Get input on how to improve that specific tour and the concept in general.

How might you envision your idea spreading across geographies or cultures so that it inspires young people around the world to cultivate their creative confidence?

The idea is already spreading! The survey I posted on this site has a respondent whose email address I did not recognize. I emailed him.
    “I follow OpenIdeo on twitter. It is a nice idea. Will the idea be launched in India?"
As a program based in tourism there is a built in mechanism for spread across cultures. Visitors from other countries who experience Hip Trips can take the idea back to their home country and develop it there.

A sponsor organization that is international can be a vehicle to spread the idea across the world.

The program’s template can be posted on it's website and/or blog in order that interested organizations in other countries can help youth build their own Hip Trips. Perhaps it will be youth who take one's own initiative.

  Developing World:
In regions of the world where internet access is limited or absent the idea can be brought in by foreign visitors/students, aide and health care workers, and by locals who have been abroad. Once the idea arrives local schools will best disseminate it amongst students and families. I had a conversation with a young woman, 22 y/o, who spent one year in Thailand researching work conditions of a community of illegal Burmese immigrants. She lived in a small city with limited access to the Internet. Her impression is that information is best spread on paper and via schools. In many areas economic resources can be a limiting factor. It is preferable to have tours from the schools where funding comes from government or private sources, rather than students going privately which in many cases will be unaffordable.
Will an economic incentive bring youth in the developing world into a program like this as it’s builders? Yes. It can be a source of jobs for older teens and young adults. “This work will provide economic support and it gives affirmation to their life experiences. What they do, their work, brings others in who want to learn about their life.”

What skills, input or guidance would you like to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

INSPIRATIONS - from members of this community
 I had planned a blog but this concept lead me to think about it in a different way.
From Jeff Nagata

A tool kit on Creative Confidence by Saskia Baard
I am borrowing it for educational purposes in my concept.

The Mullet Resume - Josh Lapray

1) If you are in this group or pass it on to your children, friends, neighbors. This basic information will be very helpful. Thank you!
2) Blog development, App development, Web development
3) Anyone experienced in safety and liability concerns?
View more

Attachments (12)


Calling All Tripsters - Responses (What do youth think of this concept?)


Survey - HipTrips - What do youth think of this concept?


HipTrip Parent Survey - for parents of children ages 13 -24yrs.


Spanish Harlem - Let's Plan Together - Questions for tour guests


Spanish Harlem Tour - Questions/Responses - Let's Plan Together


Spanish Harlem - Let's Plan Together - Responses - SREADSHEET FORM


HipTrips Educators Focus Group Questionnaire


East Harlem Map - zoom in


How does HipTrips cultivate creative confidence in youth? IDEA 1


IDEA 2 - original idea/presentation


HipTrips - Program Brief


PROTOTYPES I and II - Spanish Harlem Pilot Tour


Join the conversation:

Photo of Susan Schott

I love this idea for growing kids creative confidence. It expands their boundaries, and allows them to understand and learn from other cultures, which I believe is a key factor to one's creative confidence (at any age!). Good luck with the idea!!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Susan. I was planning to write to you but you beat me to it! Thank you for your positive feedback. I wanted to give you some feedback as well. While I was doing research in East Harlem for the pilot tour I met many people all around the town. One young woman I met, Janelle, works in a local cafe. She was so incredibly helpful to me. She had ideas pouring out of her. One was to do a scavenger hunt. I immediately thought of you! What was really interesting was what she mentioned to scavenge for. She turned to the blackboard in her cafe and read out "Find the cafe where the daily tomato soup is $4.50." - something to that effect. I was really surprised. She was suggesting a scavenger hunt as a way to move through the neighborhood actively for teens. I usually think of scavenger hunts as activities for younger children. I also think of it as either an activity unto itself for fun or as a means to learn about history etc. I don't think of it as a vehicle to get one to move through a landscape. Janelle had first hand experience doing it as a teen and she told me that she and the group she did it with really liked it. I think it would fit into a "tour" really well for the right group. The way she suggested it it would certainly keep kids moving around and one could incorporate sights and stories from the guides along the way.
  Then I had feedback on the Parent Survey I put up which was also about a scavenger hunt. (You can read the comment on the response page.) Two times in 10 days and both times referencing it for teens! The person wrote in that they observed a scavenger hunt where each participant made their own map and had to write something to go with it. In addition they were charged with certain tasks that contributed to team building. Both ideas are exciting and I would want to suggest them to the youth that build HipTrips or anyone who wants to use a scavenger hunt to engage teens. What do you think? Isn't this cool to get two scavenger hunt enthusiasts contributing to a teen program? Feel free to free associate and build on these!! Thank you.

Photo of Susan Schott


Meant to get to you earlier, but the Christmas holiday got in the way. Congratulations on an outstanding job well done. I would like to know if you are going to continue forward with the idea. If so, I would like to know if you'd like to build a transatlantic (London) team, and have me (and a team) do a prototype here in London - mirroring what you are doing in NYC? You can contact me via email at - I would love to see this project out there.

Also, I wanted to let you know I am continuing my work on the Scavenger Hunt project. With the help of Caterina Vrabec (follow MA student), we have begun the design process…surveying, questionnaires, prototypes…contacting schools and local artists. Thought you'd like to have an update.


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