Human Centered Design in the community

“How do we grow our own local healthcare workforce?”
“How can we prepare our community for natural disasters?”
‘How do we make sure nobody goes hungry?”

These are some of the tough questions that Curry and Del Norte county
residents face every day — and Wild Rivers Community Foundation
is supporting local community leaders, residents, parents and youth
working together to address these challenges.

There is no quick fix or single organization, agency or person that can
provide a solution, so WRCF has introduced a relatively new approach
— human centered design — which explores possible solutions,
sets clear goals and brings many organizations to the table, while
acknowledging the history and context of the region.

“The work starts by deeply listening and co-designing solutions with
those closest to the issues,” said Michelle Carrillo, initiative director for
Building Health Communities.

Staff at WRCF work alongside community teams to build research plans,
conduct “empathy Interviews” with people in their homes, businesses
and classrooms to gain deeper learning that puts local knowledge and
experience at the heart of the work. Through small, intimate group
sessions and larger community gatherings, residents learn about and
construct powerful solutions to address big challenges. The approach
is about co-creating and testing solutions with people closest to a
particular challenge, and builds off the inherent creativity of individuals
and communities facing adversity every day.

One local example of human centered design at its best is the 3READ23
Initiative, which began in 2016 with the audacious goal: “We guarantee
that all third graders will read at third grade level by 2023 in Del Norte
County.” The community-based partnership includes educators, business
and community leaders, parents, nonprofits and the school district.

The subsequent successes and lessons learned by the 3READ23 Initiative
have created a model that is now being used to address other large
community challenges. The City of Crescent City is using co-design in
their master plan for Front Street Park to engage with residents in a
deeper way, and tested it earlier this year with the pool master plan.
Also, the Yurok Tribe is co-designing their long-term strategic plan with
members using this same approach. To learn more watch the video.

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