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.