At Raising Places, we believe that people embrace the change that they are a part of. And so while our team facilitates the process of human-centered design, each local community drives its own content based on local needs, assets and priorities.

In Hudson, NY, the team began by asking themselves the question, “What are the barriers to all children and families thriving here?” In order to apply to Raising Places, their group had to reach consensus on three of the biggest challenges they see in their community. Here’s where they landed:

- Unemployment and lack of career training

- Racism and lack of representation in our institutions

- Lack of affordable spaces

Systems thinking tells us that in order to make sustainable change to a system, we must tackle not the symptoms of our problems but the root causes. And so, during the Kickoff Lab, the team discussed their assumptions as to the root causes of these community challenges.

Design team member Jabin Ahmed mapping the root causes of racism and lack of representation in Hudson institutions.

In Hudson, small groups discussed root causes such as historic poverty, cultural barriers, and the shifting patterns of people moving to and away from the town. The group then shifted to writing positive goals - specific statements about an aspirational new behavior of relevant local actors. From over 100 initial positive goals, the team narrowed down to three:

I want city leaders to prioritize job training for youth

I want our police department to speak and interact positively with the community

I want city government to prioritize affordable and accessible spaces

Hudson design team members Brandon Santos and Willette Jones voting on positive goals related to affordable and accessible spaces.

These goals formed the basis of a research plan, with one small group focused on each of them. The purpose of research is to better understand each positive goal: who is currently achieving it, and how; who is not currently achieving it, and why. Each small group’s research plan was designed to explore how a range of different community members understand the issue, from their experiences.

Stay tuned for the next content update from Downstreet plus State and Columbia, in Hudson, NY!