Editor’s note: this is the second post in a new series from IX contributor, Lola Olson, about what everyday people teach us about ideas.
All communities come with their issues and difficulties and often times, due to day to day life and other issues affecting us, we can forget that we’re even apart of that community. Companies, neighbourhoods, etc. see this exemplified in others through apathy, and such was the case in the example of Roseland in South Chicago, as reported by Good in a great article How Teenage Girls With Power Tools Transformed a Neighborhood
Addressing the community need for a place for children to play, several of Roseland’s youth women gathered with the help of Demoiselle 2 Femmes, Latent Design, and Tiny WPA to not improve a vacant lot in their community by building a playground, but to get adults involved in the process. The result was something that instilled confidence in the youth in their ability to learn new things, but also encouraged their community to get involved:
One of the things we’ve learned through our work is that we need to make design visible. Move your design studio, or your classroom, or your city hall meeting, to the sidewalk. When you’re designing and building incredible things in public that no one thinks are possible—not just doing an art project or a mosaic, but actually solving a problem—people are inspired to come up to you and ask questions, and share advice or offer resources. There’s a seamless feedback loop with the community. When teens from that community are leading this highly public designing and building—as they are in every one of our Tiny WPA projects—many more wonderful things happen.
We already know that part of what makes a great idea great is the individual backing the idea, but what the example of Roseland and the youth show is that it’s not just about individuals willing to contribute towards a project – it’s about making that contribution visible to the entire community. Because this project wasn’t just about turning a vacant lot into a playground and leaving it at that, it was about connecting the community and allowing the building to create a catalyst for conversation. It’s that visual representation of a community that reminds others to relinquish their apathy and become involved in what’s around them.
And that’s no different for companies and organisations. When they are willing to devote time and effort into showing their employees that their ideas matter, that they are a crucial part of the innovation management process, they create a situation where more employees are likely to get involved because they feel part of a community of others. Not every individual within a company has to be as brimming with passion as others, but they should have access to those who are brimming with passion and who can spread that passion throughout the company and encourage and inspire change.
While the Roseland empty lot is a small example of the way a community can change or interact, it still demonstrates that making a visible effort towards reuniting a community has the potential to really turn everything around. Making challenges visible, or in theater-speak “breaking the fourth wall”, is all about engagement and creating a tangible experience for change. This is both a great lesson and reminder. Thank you Roseland!
image credit: good.is
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Lola Olson is a freelance writer who creates content, manages social media, and advises on marketing strategies, working with Wazoku, Find Invest Grow, Pink Therapy, and several other organisations.