Since the 1970s the Eastside Community Network (ECN), formerly the Warren/Conner Development Coalition, has been developing and refining a unique, participatory community engagement model that they call “Neighborhoods First.”
Although ECN has been working with their model for many years, the organization sought The Work Department’s expertise to help translate their approach for a broader audience and create a clear guide so that new staff could be trained to implement the model and residents can better understand the model’s non-linear process.
WD began the design process by participating in several immersive design lab activities with residents, ECN staff and board members, and other stakeholders to get at the unique qualities of this model and see the impact of Neighborhoods First from the community’s perspective.
In order to understand and explain how the many moving (and often unpredictable) parts of the model work together, we used a metaphor of “tools” and “ingredients.” We created simple and beautiful illustrations that visually demonstrate how the model works in a manner that engages viewers. We also designed collaborative hands-on activities as part of the curriculum for people learning the model to practice thinking through the process of engagement, using a complex civic advocacy scenario that the ECN team is currently working through. The training tool is available to download here.
This training tool has been produced thanks to generous gifts by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.