The cornerstones to the Multnomah Idea Lab’s (MIL’s) approach are Equity- and Human-Centered Collaborative Design, Critical Thinking, and Applied Research.
Equity- and Human-Centered Collaborative Design
We use an Equity- and Human-Centered Collaborative Design approach to problem solving. This approach is participatory, collaborative and iterative. We start with empathy and an understanding of historical and structural systems in order to center the lived expertise of those experiencing the challenge as we create possible solutions to test.
We understand that, historically and presently, intentional government investments, policies, and practices have created most, if not all, of the injustices and inequities experienced by our communities. The MIL’s work is our response to the government’s moral obligation to create systemic solutions that acknowledges, reduces and repairs these harms. We act out of hope, and our deep and steadfast belief that our efforts can result in real, material change for communities who have been hurt and marginalized by government decisions.
The MIL is also working to change the narrative of who is experiencing poverty and why they endure those conditions. Establishing a more accurate and nuanced understanding of economic inequities is fundamental to influencing and advancing government policies that aim to end poverty. When we do this, we are able to work to not only ease the experience of poverty, but to end the conditions that cause it.
Further, we sharpen our understanding by seeking out others who are working toward similar goals, exploring avenues of research, looking for case studies and partnering with communities. We continue to engage in discussions with others in order to grow and evolve our thinking.
A critical component of the MIL is the ability to use the principle of Applied Research to test our ideas — testing them to gather, understand and assess both the qualitative and quantitative outcomes of our proposed interventions. The goal is for the MIL’s research to add value across the County, and even inform innovation and policy in other governmental agencies and jurisdictions.
Racial Justice and Equity
We recognize that some of these approaches are inevitably a product of white supremacy culture. We commit to examine them through the Racial Justice and Equity lens in our application.