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“How might we”, together?

It begins with a question; it ends with action. 

We’ve all been there: the blank page. The white wall. The open-ended question. That feeling you get when you start to tackle big, complex issues. 

The team members of Project Activate know that feeling all too well after their second workshop and first public events. But they can also tell you how to push through feelings of discomfort and mental calisthenics to generate deep community engagement and new ideas.

They can tell you, because they’ve done it.

Since the program launched in August 2019, two teams of extraordinary community members–one in Southeast Lancaster City, and one in Paradise, PA– have been hard at work listening deeply to their community, synthesizing intimate and important reflections from neighbors, and generating ideas to begin creating new ways for members of these communities to connect in the coming year and beyond. This past November, the two Activate Teams began the challenging work of organizing their learnings, brainstorming the right questions, and then asking those questions to their communities to generate ideas.

From there, the teams worked to sort and reach the deeper meaning of these conversations and stories, called insights: what were they really saying? What problems were they talking about, and what are the issues underlying those problems? When some of those deeper meanings were fleshed out, the teams focused on developing questions to ask the community that would help generate ideas that could address some of these underlying themes.

It’s a difficult process. 

In the end, the teams developed 9-12 “How Might We” prompts to generate ideas from the community. Why “How Might We”? It’s an inviting and open-ended way to talk about big challenges that can create lots (and lots) of ideas. There is no wrong answer to a “How Might We” question, only ideas! 

 

 

Southeast Activate Team

The Southeast Activate Team decided to focus their idea generation around three areas impacting their neighborhood: educational opportunities, positive media for the Southeast, and neighborhood collaboration. Click each tab to explore their “How Might We”s:

Education

How might we 

support educators to fully understand and support the lived experience of the diverse communities they teach?

How might we 

make it easier and feel “okay” to ask for help?

How might we 

help people in the Southeast to identify their dreams and build their confidence to pursue them?

 

Media

How might we 

increase opportunities for recognition of Southeast residents across Lancaster City?

How might we 

create the balance of Southeast news between positive and negative opinions and facts?

How might we 

encourage and support local voices to confidently speak their truth?

Collaboration

How might we 

create shared gathering spaces that are welcoming to all?

How might we 

transfer Southeast history to the next generation of Southeast leaders?

How might we 

support Southeast residents (past and current) to collectively invest in the Southeast community?

Paradise Activate Team

The Paradise Activate Team decided to focus their idea generation around three areas impacting their neighborhood: affordable housing, building connection across generations, and creating information resources. Click each tab to explore their “How Might We”s:

Affordable Housing

How might we 

create ways to make all residents of Paradise aware of the lack of affordable housing?

How might we 

create stability and financial benefit for Paradise by generating truly affordable housing?

How might we 

create and strengthen personal connections between long-time residents and new community members? 

Inter-generational Engagement

How might we 

get information to seniors about community activities?

How might we 

identify and break down barriers that keep seniors isolated from the rest of the community?

How might we 

incentivize  local business, civic organizations, and residents to solve transportation problems for seniors?

Information Resource

How might we 

make communication about events, community information, and resources more accessible?

How might we 

create a gathering place where any member of the community feels welcomed?

How might we 

help all members of the community feel vital and important?

Moving from paper to prototype.

Harnessing the energy and input from the community Idea Gatherings, the Activate Teams are now organizing and combining ideas from their neighbors into concepts to try out in their communities; finding similarities, ways to combine features, and unite visions from multiple perspectives to create something that will reflect their neighborhood’s shared passion for belonging. 

There was a lot to sort through:

But now the fun part begins! In order to turn these concepts into real-life opportunities for community members to participate in, the teams will begin to try out these ideas in their neighborhoods–and continue to refine and receive feedback from the public along the way–so they can hone them into scalable ideas. 

Without you, there is no activate.

This is where you come in! We want you to join the upcoming Action Gatherings, this is a chance to hear about the refined ideas from the Activate Teams, give feedback, share insight, and sign up to make these ideas become a reality in your community. The Activate Teams have put in an extraordinary effort collecting stories, sorting through ideas, and thinking creatively about new ways to build belonging in communities across Lancaster County, and we hope you will join us to hear about how to get involved in the next chapter of that work.

Because we’ve all faced a blank page, wall, or hard-to-answer open-ended question before. But the good news is: you’re not alone. Together, we can activate, because together we are extraordinary.

Join the next Action Gathering:

paradise team

Paradise Action Gathering

January 11

11-1PM
The Factory Ministries
3293 Lincoln HWY East
Paradise, PA 17562

Register

SE team

Southeast Lancaster City

January 17

5-7PM
Crispus Attucks Community Center
407 Howard Ave
Lancaster, PA 17602

Register

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