In tackling Challenge 1, I was inspired by the many articles pointing to the fact that political polarization in the U.S. is marked by a vast divide between rural and urban communities. However, the rural vs. urban dichotomy is a false dichotomy, as I believe that aspects of both appeal to most people. We all have a dual desire to experience both the thrill of living in a city, yet to also enjoy the peace and simplicity of living in the country. However, life usually limits us to one option. 

Therefore, I came up with the idea of HomeXchange to appeal to this dual desire. Similar to Airbnb, HomeXchange allows homeowners to open up their residences to others, but in this case, they are swapping homes with another person or family for an agreed-upon period of time. Part of the appeal of Airbnb is that it allows travellers to experience life as a local, but HomeXchange takes it one step further by creating a shared exchange experience. 

During the duration of each party’s stay, they will be presented with a personalized guide to the town or city that the host prepares ahead of time, a prepaid immersive activity (such as a live show, a dinner at a special restaurant, a cultural event, etc.) that is quintessential to the life of the host or the culture of the community, and the unique opportunity to get to know the other party during dinner. This is where the “4th wall” gets broken down – each party will be prompted to ask each other questions, such as those from the “36 Questions that Lead to Love,” in order to become even more intimately acquainted with one another. After living in each other’s homes and walking in each other’s shoes, the goal of this culminating activity is for both parties to truly feel connected and understood.

HomeXchange has a unique business model. Each party would essentially receive free lodging for their vacation, and HomeXchange would collect a small registration and organization fee. This lowers the bar to participate and could be a unique selling point. 

There are so many differences in the way that people from both sides of the political spectrum live, in what they believe, and in who they are (age, race, education, occupation, etc.) However, my hope is that through an activity that is universally loved (travel), and through the scaffolded events that lead to connection and understanding, people from different walks of life will develop more empathy and respect for one another. 

Sources for the poster can be found here.