The Raising Places design team in Wilmington has been busy conducting research focused on the group’s positive goals! (See here for more on those goals, which were drafted at the Kickoff Lab).

Over the previous six weeks, the team learned from residents, including teens, parents and grandparents; leaders and instructors at youth-serving organizations; business leaders from the credit union and local banks; people running as well as engaging with government services, such as general assistance and food stamps; as well as residents running their own home-based businesses. They also immersed themselves in the local context by trying to a) rent a home and b) find a job in Wilmington. The purpose of this work was to better understand the needs, assets, aspirations and lived experiences of community members, so that the team could create better, more child-centered and more locally-relevant programs, spaces, policies and systems.

The small group focused on the environment discusses data from their research; from left, convener Liza Rivera, design team member Marcia Tolentino, convener Chandelle Wiebe, design team members David Campbell and Bill Gallegos (left); one insight written by this small group (right)

From the research and synthesis came a series of powerful insights, each of which led to an opportunity statement. Starting with the phrase “How might we…,” an opportunity statement is a tool to spark brainstorming and new ways of looking at old problems.

Insights about the cycle of poverty

From spending time with people working in various co-ops, the team discovered that people often learn skills better from peers than professionals. They also realized that these types of learning networks are enabled by common goals and activities.

From these insights they wrote the following opportunity statements:

- How might we increase peer-to-peer learning about making and saving money?

- How might we legitimize and scale the “co-op approach” to monetizing skills and talents?

Insights about youth empowerment

The design team’s research showed that when adults make the investment to treat youth as equals, youth in turn return that investment to the community. Likewise, they also found that so many youth in Wilmington are creating beauty, even in tough circumstances.

From these insights they wrote the following opportunity statements:

- How might we support adults to engage youth as equals?

- How might we support youth to transcend their difficult circumstances and amplify their creative expression?

Insights about the environment

Through their research, this small group saw that a healthy environment is one where people live, work and play. They also realized, however, that people don’t always realize that they are impacted by, or impacting, their environment.

From these insights they wrote the following opportunity statements:

- How might we convert vacant public spaces into green public spaces that families can use?

- How might we inspire the community to realize that investing in Wilmington includes investing in our environment?

Community members sketching and writing ideas for how to make Wilmington more vibrant and equitable (left); some of the hundreds of concepts shared by participants at the Ideas Lab (right)

At the public Ideas Lab event, community members were asked to brainstorm and sketch ideas in response to these opportunity statements. Over a hundred people showed up to this event, and generated over 250 ideas. The ideas ranged from new programs, campaigns and services, to new policies and plans for the community, to new businesses and systems of support. The team is now gearing up for the prototyping sprint, where they will be making, testing, and iterating on these ideas with a wide range of community members. They will present their next round of concepts at the Action Lab on February 7 and 8. Stay tuned!