At Raising Places, we believe that complex challenges are only solved by working together. The root causes of childhood inequities are far too broad for one organization, or even one sector, to address on their own. This is one reason why Raising Places kickoff labs were designed for community members to engage in interactive activities from opening to closing. 

On the first day, an exercise called ‘common threads' used yarn to draw visual connections between design team members' personal experiences, unearthed through storytelling. The research work is structured with many small group exercises where design team members follow their passion for a community challenge and self-select into working groups to learn more about that particular issue. In these small groups, a lot of the tough yet thoughtful and nuanced work is done sifting through details behind the issues residents face. As design teams describe their unique takes on the root causes of community challenges in small groups, this causes their peers in the group to discover assumptions previously unbeknownst to them.

How Greater Good Studio designed group collaboration for Raising Places

Design research lead at Greater Good Studio, Annemarie Spitz shared insight into exactly how the Raising Places labs are designed for impactful engagement between participating community members:

"The structure of the labs is built around the goal of collaboration among the design team. This isn’t the kind of meeting where you can sit behind a table and check your messages every once in a while. The labs flow dynamically between moments of discussion and decision making, both as a full team and as small groups. In activities with the large group, we’ve given each member a specific role or task, making sure there’s at least one moment for everyone to contribute. In small groups, the activities are structured around a set of large posters on the wall, and team members add their ideas on post-it notes." –Annemarie Spitz

Annemarie (far left) facilitates a small group of design team members at a community center in Hudson, New York.

Hudson design team members weigh in on collaboration with their own experiences

In the city of Hudson, NY, a small group made up of four design team members aims to resolve the community challenge of youth unemployment in Hudson. This passionate and dedicated group ultimately converted that challenge into the positive goal: I want city leaders to prioritize job training for at risk youth.

A sign up sheet where design team members committed to working towards more and better youth employment in Hudson.

Cedric Fulton is a Hudson native and community organizer who says he was “born to do this type of work” building community solutions after portraying some troubled behavior in his youth. Now he is joyously a father of two with a passion for empowering youth who acts as a community liaison between residents and various organizations.

On the second day of the lab in Hudson, when the entire design team reflected on the previous day’s activities, Cedric expressed gratitude for the structure of the workshops and deeply diving work in small groups where different perspectives were shared.

Cedric (second from left) shared a personal story with the rest of the Hudson design team during the Common Threads activity.

“I appreciate the process that we had yesterday in the small groups. Appreciating the process outside," Cedric says in reference to design team members gathering outside where they utilized dot stickers to vote on the positive goals which now shape small groups. “And that it wasn’t written in stone or concrete. Especially in my group with something I am passionate about. Being able to change each other’s minds and accept that change.”

 –Cedric Fulton

Zebi Williams works for Kite’s Nest, which is one of the convening organizations in Hudson, but she is participating in the design team as a resident. Kite’s Nest creates safe and supportive learning environments for young people to stimulate confidence, skills, joy and collective leadership towards the goal of community equity and justice. Although Zebi is newer to the Hudson area, she brings a great deal of experience in UX design and project development – at the age of 18, Zebi created a summer camp in the mountains of Jamaica.

After the conclusion of the kickoff lab, Zebi shared that she found her group with Cedric recognizes power dynamics and intentionally uses tactics to emphasize the teamwork environment.

Design team member Zebi Williams brainstorms using sticky notes during the Raising Places Kickoff Lab In Hudson, New York.

“We are definitely a very opinionated bunch, but I think we did a good job practicing the ‘step-up step-back’ rule – making sure none of us took up more space than the other.” 

–Zebi Williams

A sense of connectedness is essential to any successful community and the Hudson design team's approach towards teamwork exemplifies togetherness while leaning into productive discomfort. With an excellent group of residents committed to community improvement and a keen collaborative design for the labs, Hudson moves towards powerful solutions developed from the minds and through the hard work of its residents.

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