Setting ambitious new goals for impact can be an inspiring, creative, and productive way to get focused on making change.
But your team’s goals aren’t the only ones that matter.
Social problems are complex, and manifest differently across diverse lived experiences. You might envision success one way based on your own personal and professional perspectives, while other members of a community working on, and/or impacted by, the issue could define it differently based on theirs.
No matter how much potential you see in your own vision, if you haven’t also accounted for varied definitions of success informed by a range of insights and experiences, you may be prioritizing goals that don’t map to the most urgent community needs, or that don’t resonate with existing movements fighting for change.
Embracing collaborative community planning from focus groups to workshops to co-produced content is a meaningful way to involve impacted stakeholders and other changemakers in your goal setting.
When working with communities impacted by food insecurity there are always multiple solutions that seem obvious to me or the design team I am on. But when iterating these obvious solutions, I’ve seen resistance or lackluster impact. And then, when engaging a community retroactively, communities often offer the fruitful, and sometimes friendly, reminder that you wouldn’t know this because you didn’t ask.
Incorporating a community’s vision is an essential component of creating change. Through such engagements with impacted community members, community organizers, and individuals working on the problem strategic and smart goals emerge.
This should be an iterative process. Acknowledging that social issues manifest differently across lived experiences is critical even within communities with one shared impacted identity. Because, as additional impacted identities are layered on so too are the ways in which issues affect these sub-communities.
It’s easy to design one size fits all solutions to problems, especially when we’ve seen it work within other groups; however, each community is different and the solutions to the way systems impact them will also be different. Adolescent mothers, impacted by both housing and food insecurity, need a particular mixture of services and