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Community Innovation Workshops Bring New Ideas

Posted on April 16, 2021

Advancing Macomb is working with EmcArts on second program working in complex community change here in Macomb County. The Community Innovation Workshops (CIW) are centered on building adaptive capacity for change and innovation through the lens of the real issues of each organization and community member taking part. The sessions use a variety of creative approaches to spark new pathways in viewing these complex challenges and engage the group in collaborative learning.

Our Community Innovation Workshop participants come from a range of organizations such as: Advancing Macomb, Alchemist Ventures, Chaldean Community Foundation, CJ Barrymore’s, DTE Energy, First State Bank, Good Shepherd Coalition, KnowResolve, Macomb Community Action, Macomb Community College, Macomb County Chamber, Macomb Food Program, Meals of Love, Oakland University, Single Family Living, Sterling Heights Chamber, and The BIG Institute.

As our communities are naturally complex systems in which many individuals and organizations interact, traditional approaches to planning and problem solving are often are not effective. The CIW program is a ten-session series focusing on the complex community challenges faced by our nonprofit organizations and community. The workshops help bring an experimental mindset to learning to create new and adaptive responses, rather than technical fixes.

In the sessions, participants investigate the nature of complex systems and analyze the community dynamics at play in relation to a selected complex challenge. They then work together to explore potential new strategies for change that integrate these arts-based methods and go on to design immediate small-scale experiments to test their viability. With the developmental evaluation techniques they learn, the groups can rapidly assess their progress, make adjustments, and strengthen their innovation.

Through these Community Innovation Workshops, participants are learning a wide range of practical tools and techniques to expand their capacity and perspectives on complex change which they can take with them to use in their own organizations and communities.