How do we tackle large community issues and plan for the future through design workshops?
The Hilltop is a region made up of many different neighborhoods and community groups causing them to split their power when advocating for local change.
Each community group within the Hilltop has their own agenda and set of issues that are important to them. The fractured nature of these groups lessened their power when trying to affect change at the local government level. In order to align these groups to key issues that they could tackle as a collective we decided to hold a two part workshop. ​​​​​​​
Workshop homework
Brainstorm three challenges facing the Hilltop Community and three opportunities or advantages you see in the Hilltop.
Day 1
Introduction to design thinking and how it can help align groups to common goals. Go over workshop tenets to set the tone of the workshop and have a reference point for conversation. Map the challenges and opportunities the community members have identified into themes without discussing solutions.
Day 2
Revisit the themes that came out of the first discussion. Vote on the themes to tackle in order to determine a priority. Drive towards "how might we"solutions for each theme within the two spheres of control, community activity and local government. 
What makes the Hilltop a unique place to live?
I asked the community members to identify three areas of opportunity for the Hilltop. I wanted to start the workshop on a positive note and hear why people love their neighborhood. We placed the notes on a board and sorted them into groups. The large pink stickies indicate a theme. 
What are the main challenges facing the
Hilltop Community today?
After going through the areas of opportunities we shifted our focus to the challenges facing the Hilltop today. We discussed what the main concerns of our community members were. At the end of both exercises the community members were surprised to see that we had identified an equal number of challenges and opportunities. They fully expected to have the challenges heavily outweigh the opportunities. 
How do we determine the priority for tackling the
issues we uncovered?
After day one we collectively identified the main challenges affecting the Hilltop. I then asked the participants to vote on which challenges they would like to tackle first. This not only kept us focused during our limited time together, but it also gave the community members a prioritized list of challenges to focus their efforts and energy on.
How do we not lose sight of the strengths and opportunities
we identified?

It was important to make sure that we didn't lose sight of previously identified strengths and opportunities. Making sure that these themes are visible in the room keeps the participants from being discouraged by only the negative themes. These opportunities and strengths can also help inform the solutioning process when addressing the challenges.  
How do we capture the solutions from this workshop?​​​​​​​
When attempting to come up with solutions it is important to understand the two spheres of influence that exist in this problem space. The two areas that can affect change are community
and local government levels. Providing this context helped participants brainstorm solutions at
each level. 
What were the workshop participants left with?
At the end of the workshop I left the Hilltop Community with a more in depth understanding of the goals each community group was trying to advance, alignment and understanding of their shared goals, a priority of problems they could pool their resources for and tackle as a group, and the first steps in how to drive towards solutions for their community problems.
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