Community Synthesis Event
A major milestone in our team’s equitable business development work was our community synthesis event. At this gathering, we invited back all 100+ people we had interviewed to that point, and asked them to wade into our data with us to identify themes with which to move forward.
Collaborative Data Analysis
Because our team of six people can only represent a limited number of cultural, educational, and experiential perspectives, we knew we didn’t want to interpret the findings from those 100 interviews on our own. We condensed all the stories we had heard into a more manageable amount of information – read about our process for creating personas here – but tried as much as possible to bring our unfiltered data to this event so that others could help us identify the parts of it that were important.
At the event itself, in addition to providing a space for community members to connect, share more stories, and enjoy some delicious food from Gatherings Café, we presented both our quantitative and qualitative data and asked the group to write down themes they saw emerging across the different personas and charts.
Through a facilitated process, we took everyone’s notes and grouped them based on the most significant areas of challenge that people in the room had identified. Then the group prioritized those challenge areas to help our team narrow in on where we should focus first.
From that community synthesis event, we came to four challenge areas in which to conduct deeper research and begin identifying opportunities for change. These four areas are:
- City Processes – the business licensing, permitting, procurement, and development review processes that can be confusing and difficult to navigate
- Commercial Space – the frequent mismatch between the kind of space an entrepreneur needs to run their business and the kind of space that is available at an affordable price
- Access to Capital – in spite of numerous efforts to close them, gaps that still exist for entrepreneurs who need money to start or expand their businesses
- Neighborhood Conditions – the investments that are or aren’t made in particular neighborhoods that make them inviting, safe, and vibrant places to shop
If we have done our work well, our community partners should be able to see the direct line from things they told us in interviews to the personas we created, and from there to these four focus areas and then to the initiatives we will eventually implement. We will continue seeking the advice and input of community members as we move into idea generation and initiative implementation.
For a PDF document summarizing both our quantitative research and our personas, click here. To learn more about the Community Engagement Principles that guide how we interact with the community in our work, click here.