Final presentation

Hi everyone!

Sadly I won’t be in clas on Wednesday — right now I’m in the Balkans, traveling for school and learning about the history of former Yugoslavia. Very interesting stuff.

Here is a link to our case study, though Mallory might still be editting it. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1n57MXsrNwvklRAZA5IOBPJppS5EsI4A5Rq88ecjqNOc/edit?usp=drivesdk

Mallory is also doing the powerpoint presentation, so I don’t have a link for that yet (THANK YOU MALLORY!). I wanted to post something because I’m worried I won’t have internet tomorrow.

A big reflection I’m having is about how do we make transformational change in such a short period of time? I think that our project (hopefully) started to sow the seeds for some ideas for transformational change. I think of transformational change as fundmentally altering the way we think about something, and therefore how we approach problem solving and implementing our ideas for solving the problem. The short term nature of the project reminds me that big changes take a long time to happen. If I want to keep doing co-design inspired work and make transformational change, I might need to re-think what transformational change look like or how I measure whether or not it’s happening…Right now I measure whether or not we changed how we think about things, and therefore changed how we approach problem solving and implementing our problem solving ideas by evaluating whether or not the idea we implement feels risky but is successful. I think my evaluation metric for transformational change is the riskiness of the idea and implementation because I think that something really transformational shouldn’t already exist…and it needs to be successful otherwise it wasn’t a good transofrmational change! But to see this kind of change, it seems impossible without trial and error, which takes time, money, and relationhips built on trust. Iam thinking about how to maximize those three things in a world where sometimes they are limited. And trying to think about whether I need a new definition or evaluation tool for transformational change.

Really excited to hear how the presentations go. i wish I could tune in, but I am 7 hours ahead, so class will be from 2-5am in Croatian time :)

Our first workshop!

Mallory and I conducted a video conference call workshop with some of the Griot’s key fans.  We asked them to review the photos, text, and layout we had drafted for the GoFundMe page and I am so grateful for their critical feedback!  I was worried that people would be shy about feedback.  People in our workshop definitely still prefaced any negative feedback with lots of positive caveats and support, but I loved that they did not hold back on giving us meaningful suggestions and insights for improvement.

Here’s a link to our Workshop Agenda.  We followed it for the most part, but definitely made some changes on the fly and didn’t send out the website ahead of time.

We learned that our workshop attendees wanted the GoFundMe to have a more narrative flow, include more about the wonderful founder (Lois) who they all love, and wanted to think about how to shape the language of the GoFundMe to be urgent yet positive.  We also got feedback about the feel of the museum.  Our attendees talked about the immersive experience being in the museum, how the museum generates empathy, how the museum has taught them so much.  This was really amazing for me as someone who’s never been to the museum.  I feel like I got to understand what makes this museum so special to so many people, and what makes it unique.  Which is perfect for building out content for a crowdfunding campaign!  It was reinvigorating to be with a group of people who believe in the museum, believe in Lois, and believe in our project so much.

In addition to getting this critical feedback, I was inspired by how the workshop accomplished other goals that I wasn’t completely expecting.  Our workshop participants didn’t know each other, despite both being loyal fans of the museum and Lois — so the workshop gave us an opportunity to connect two people who share a passion and build relationship between them.  We asked our workshop participants to suggest names of people they would forward the campaign to — so the workshop gave us an opportunity to drum up excitement and support, getting key fans excited about the forthcoming opportunity to share our campaign.  Moving forward, I am eager to work to make sure that our co-designers know that they are co-designers.  I want all these people who have built this campaign with us to feel like they own it and its their success when (hopefully) the Griot reaches its fundraising goals.

Reflections on my progress…

I looked back at my first post for this class to refresh my memory about what my learning goals were.  This sentence that I wrote jumped out to me: “I am excited to learn more tools and use my curiosity and desire to find connections as a way to co-design new solutions.”

I am realizing this sentence sounds pretty vague!  And one reflection is I’m wishing I had written more concretely what my goals were so I could see if I was reaching them (or at least orienting to them).

Another thing I noticed is that my goal is “tool” oriented.  I have SO appreciated the tools I’ve learned from this class.  The listening methods, Daphne’s research on power mapping, writing a design brief, etc.  I have felt like I am learning some pretty specific tools that I hope to implement in my work going forward.  I also think that “tools” is just the tip of the iceberg of what we’re learning.  I feel like most of our work has been about giving me the chance to practice the framework of design justice.  I have been trying to be really intentional about thinking about my approach to life and work (in and out of the CoDesign Studio class) through Design Justice Principle 1: We use design to sustain, heal, and empower our communities, as well as to seek liberation from exploitative and oppressive systems.  The idea that our work can be a tool for collective liberation really speaks to me and I keep thinking about how to implement that well.

I have also been reflecting on how much I wish we could speak with our partner more.  It’s hard to walk the line between showing her respect by diligently reaching out to communicate with her versus showing her respect by not burdening her too much with our outreach because she has so much to do.  I’m grappling with how to show up best for our partner and thinking about how much easier it is when you know your partner well.  Thankfully I have Mallory to help guide me!  And it’s reminding me that when I do any sort of design work in the future (for me, that will likely be policy design work), I need to make sure I bring the community based organizations I’ve worked with before into the room.  I’m better positioned to bring them into the room because I think I have a positive, developed, trusting relationship with them and I know them well enough to have a better sense of the cues that suggest whether I’m reaching out enough or too much.  And if I have that positive relationship with them and I can help bring them into rooms with my fancy Harvard degree, then hopefully there are other organizations that they know that I don’t know and they can bring those people into the room too.

Not being able to reach out to our partner more and not knowing more about how our partner is perceived has also been something I’ve been thinking about in terms of how to best show up for our partner.  I love getting to know new people, and it’s really hard to know how to support someone when you don’t know them.  So I think this is good exercise for getting to know a partner through what they say and what others say about them.  I think Mallory and I will be working to get more information on what others think about our partner to help build out our knowledge.  I wish we had done that a little bit sooner.

Design Brief: Moving Beyond the Edges

Abstract: Mallory and I are working with Lois Conley, ED and CEO of the Griot Museum of African-American History and Culture.  Based on our research and conversations with Lois, a key design challenge we (Mallory, Lois, and I) have for the Griot is how can we ensure the financial well-being of the Griot Museum?  We have come up with a list of 10 possible projects, but are still interested in hearing more ideas from the class and from Lois.  Since we were on spring break last week (yay Harvard and MIT having different spring break schedules), we’re still trying to get a few more calls in with Lois before really solidifying the project plan.

Griot Museum

You can find our slides here and our design brief here.  Note that they are still a work in progress (I have to post because I’m heading to class now!).

Listening practices planning

I am really excited to get to practice some of the listening techniques we learned about in class last week.  Both Mallory and I are out of the country this week, but did some brainstorming last week and have laid out some plans for listening exercises with Lois at teh Griot Museum.

I found the listening technics of flow analysis and activity analysis to be helpful starting points for Mallory and I to keep building out a full picture of what is working (and what isn’t working) for Lois.  Flow analysis will help us see what are the usual order of operations for Lois for different buckets of work.  I think this will help us see what has been her strategy so far and what she has been able to prioritize given her large and various responsibilities.  I think Activity Analysis will help us see the innovative ways that Lois has been tackling the challenges and opportunities of the Griot — in my mind, the Activity Analysis gives a complete picture of all the activities that might be connected to Lois’s work as an ED and will help all of us see which activites have been effective and empowering to her and the museum.

We were also excited about using the listening technique of Forecasting.  This was a new technique for me.  I think the point of this listening technique is to challenge us to predict the future, both the positive and the negative.  So much of what the Griot will be working with to strengthen the organization will be things that have unpredictable consequences.  For example, new developments are something that the Griot might want to work with to strengthen the organization, but the affects of these new developments on the Griot is difficult to predict.  It would be great to practice thinking about what is the best case scenario for the impact of these new developments on the Griot…and what is the worst case scenario for the implact of these new developments on the Griot.

I also am excited to try doing some stakeholder mapping.  I am still looking into new tools we can use to do stakeholder mapping (please tell me if you all know of any!).  A few of us in class are looking to learn more about good , new strategies here.  I’ve used a tool that has two axises (one about whether a stakeholder is for/against your cause, the other for how much formal power/authority the stakeholder has) that has worked well.  Still, I’m wondering if there are other models out there for stakeholder mapping.

We plan to do some of these listening activites either as email or a phone call since we are in a different city from Lois. It will be a nice challenge to see if we can figure out ways to do these kinds of listening that are engaging and interactive when we’re not in the same room!

Working with Griot Museum to design the Choteau Greenway with Design Justice in mind..

This semester Mallory and I will be working on the Choteau Greenway project in St. Louis.  For this project, we will be partnering with the Griot Museum, a museum that collects, perserves, and shares Black history, stories, and culture using art, artifacts, memorabilia, and life size wax figurines.

As an outsider to St. Louis, I expect that I will need to use the design justice principle of seeing the designer as a facilitator rather than an expert.  I plan to use my inquiry skills to learn from the expertise of the Griot Museum, Mallory as a native St. Louisan, and Mallory’s fellow designers.  By having a learning, facilitator mindset, I think this will also help me make sure that our work is centering the voices of those who are directly impacted by the outcomes of the design process and priotize design’s impact on the community over the intentions of the designer.

I also want this project to use design to sustain, heal, and empower our communities and seek liberation from explotative and oppressive systems. I know this is a lofty goal, and I think that Mallory and I are both excited about the opportunity to use a greenway to break down spatial barriers between people.  Though I am an outsider to St. Louis, I am a member of communities of color and a community that wants to highlight Black history.  I am eager for Mallory and I to think creatively and intentionally about how our design can connect people to the resouces of the Griot Museum and learn to see the power of Black history, culture, and stories.

I think the design justice principle that will be the most challenging for us to continually apply will be remembering that change comes from an accountable, acessible, and collaborative process, rather than a point at the end of the process.  A design for the Choteau Greenway is a concrete final outcome and there will be many stakeholders who will be pushing us to get to that final outcome.

Hello from Aki!

My expected design process

My expected design process

Hello fellow Civic Media Co-Design Studio-mates!

My name is Akina (Aki) Younge and I am very excited to be in class with you all.  As you know, the photo above is a representation of what I expect my design process to look like this semester.  I expect my process to be collaborative, messy, connected, and colorful!

As someone who is coming into class without a community partner in mind, I am hoping to connect with someone who already has a developed relationship.  So, for my design process, I put in paper hands holding different ends of the project string as a representation for me building relationships — with you, with the partner organization you already have, with other classmates, with people through the design process.  Coming from coordinating legislative advocacy campaigns in New York City, I really value relationships because I think it allows everyone to feel like they are valuable and contributing.  I can’t wait to share our expertise and discover what new expertise we have together.

I also expect my design process to be messy.  This messiness comes from a belief that there is so much potential for connection and the best way to get at the connection is through trial and error, feedback, and curiosity.  The pink curly paper represents the messiness and circuitousness that will come from our exploration.  I think that I am a curious person: I love asking questions, defining purpose for a project, and reimagining what we could do.  I have practiced some of those skills when I lived in Medellin, Colombia working for a group that conducted community visioning sessions with a neighborhood that was going to “revitalized.”  A large part of the community visioning sessions was a map making project that helped us see connections about what people valued in their neighborhood: we would divide all attendees into small groups of 4, give them butcher paper and markers, and told them to draw their neighborhood.  Each group would then report back, and we began to see themes about what people valued about their neighborhood from seeing what institutions, practices, places, people kept showing up on the maps from different groups.  We then had people go back to their maps and draw what they wished were in their neighborhoods, helping highlight the expertise that the community had around designing where they lived and connecting people in the room who might be able to help create what someone had felt was missing.  I am excited to learn more tools that can use my curiosity and desire to find connections as a way to co-design new solutions.

Because I feel very committed to grassroots, racial justice movements, I put a layer of green in my design process to represent the hands as being rooted in grassroots communities and organizing.  I am Black and Japanese and have always connected my work into racial equity.  As a policy student, I am focused on creating policies that further neighborhood and school integration and that intentionally use data and algorithms to further equity.  I have seen that even when polices around neighborhoods, schools, and the use of data and algorithms are well intentioned, they often reinforce racism.  I believe that the way we get out of this cycle of well-intentioned racist results is through intentional design that is rooted in a commitment to systemic change.  That rootedness usually grows out amazing grassroot organizing groups, and so I hope my design process stays grounded in community and community organizing.