The Community Design Lab (CDL) brings together diverse groups of leaders and social entrepreneurs to facilitate conversation aimed at generating ideas that create change and help improve community initiatives.The CDL was launched last year after discovering that there was no outlet for project leaders to get ideas and perspective from people outside of their field. Inspired by the belief that when innovative people come together to share ideas and work collaboratively they can accomplish more, the CDL uses a unique model to foster deeper connections amongst Baltimore’s change makers helping them to grow their projects and ideas.
The CDL’s model is exciting and different. They bring together both the creative and the detail oriented aspects of problem solving and project planning, engaging participants in fast and focused conversations that create the space for a broad and meaningful exchange of ideas. In so doing, the CDL creates a rare opportunity to bring together urban farmers, planners, organizers, educators, builders, and others around the table to tackle an idea.
In planning the 7th Annual Neighborhood Institute: Transforming Thought to Action GHCC staff recognized the CDL as an obvious choice of a partner that could engage the diversity of more than 200 neighborhood leaders in a substantive workshop that would generate actionable solutions to community issues. In their afternoon session the CDL put into practice their brainstorm generating technique, identifying featured projects, and having project leaders host tables where institute participants could lend their ideas and insights through fun and interactive “design thinking” methods.
CDL director Michelle Geiss reflected on the experience saying “we love partnering with Greater Homewood and the Neighborhood Institute because of the incredible reach. Many of the greatest change makers in the community are grassroots and attend this event every year. The setting is a perfect avenue to use the Community Design Lab because of the sheer variety of different people in attendance.”
The CDL’s contribution to the Neighborhood Institute was a huge success, with full tables of Baltimore’s brightest thinkers coming sharing ideas as they dove into a variety of community issues. As one participant describe, it “was such a useful activity! It gave a creative approach to generating ideas and solving problems. Each person contributed in a unique way. The proposed structure helped a lot.”