In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Westminster launched to increase the strength and equity of its neighborhoods by listening to, learning from, and with community members. The project kick-started an ongoing process that will continue to empower residents to solve challenges in their neighborhoods, take ownership of public spaces and processes, and strengthen collaborative networks across the and beyond.
To begin this process, we engaged community members in “Discovery Conversations” where we listened to and learned from over 80 people. Then, we used a systems approach to analyze and synthesize the insights that people shared, developing a holistic understanding of the problems and opportunities that exist City-wide and those that are situated in specific neighborhoods. Using understanding, we laid a foundation for collaboration by creating “Design Challenges” that describe key problems that emerged in our systems analysis. Finally, we brought together volunteer “Action Teams”. With the help of trained facilitators, and using the Human-centered Design process, they found opportunities for positive action and developed solution ideas which could help their neighborhoods become more resilient, equitable, and connected.
Through analysis and synthesis of data collected through our Discovery Conversations, we were able to create three separate systems maps of specific problems that exist both city-wide and in specific neighborhoods:
Our volunteer Action Teams generated seven main ideas and recommendations that would have the most potential for long-term impact.These ideas included recommendations around Community Onboarding, A Neighborhood Welcoming Network, ability to Connect With & Support Local Influencers, Forms for Dialogue, Use Open space as Common Ground for Connection, the Creation of an Online Participation Portal, and a Yearly Neighborhood Conference