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 Valley of the Chiefs, 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 the three biggest challenges. Here’s where they landed:

- Broken young families

- A nutritionally and socially bankrupt food system

- Lack of an identity-driven purpose

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 Sarah Budd brainstorming root causes to the challenges of local food systems

In Valley of the Chiefs, small groups discussed root causes such as loss of land and culture, a dearth of housing and local jobs, and the generational trauma caused by abuse of children, drugs and alcohol. The group then shifted to writing positive goals - specific statements about an aspirational future state. From over 100 initial positive goals, the team narrowed down to four:

1. I want youth and elders to connect through tangible experiences of their history

2. I want kids and families in our community to eat healthy every day

3. I want youth to connect to positive purpose rather than substances

4. I want every Crow family to have their own home

Design team members Casaja Fritzler and Lauri Kindness deliberating on their votes for positive goals

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.

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