rapid action lab overview
A Rapid Action Lab is a way of responding to urgent social challenges, usually involving multiple actors, in a matter of days.
A Rapid Action Lab is made up of a number of steps and activities. Preconditions work includes organizing, convening and research. Then, the kickoff workshop launches a set of multi-stakeholder teams into action, working in close collaboration with community to address the systemic root-causes of complex social challenges.
As the teams move forward, they participate in a series of design studios where they come together to reflect on the work they're doing, share learnings, and adjust and adapt their work.
Here is a timeline of a Rapid Action Lab:
HOW TO USE THIS ARCHIVE
This archive is here to provide you with resources and support to help you or your organization design, launch, facilitate, or participate in a Rapid Action Lab.
Below you will find materials useful in every phase, from convening participants and organizations, to deepening their understanding of the issues they want to address, to designing an inclusive and creative process, to forming prototyping teams embedded in community.
For photos and video, please visit the Media section.
Have a look around, and please don't hesitate to contact us if you need other support.
The following documents and resources show some of the preparations and thinking that went into the design and launch of Safer Through Unity.
This diagram is a high-level overview of a Rapid Action Lab, with some basic thinking about when and how to launch a lab.
The Social Labs Fieldbook is a short booklet written by social labs practitioner Zaid Hassan looking at some of the core concepts used in Social Labs.
This is a breakdown of the participants present in the Safer Through Unity Rapid Action Lab.
This is the text of one of the invitations that was sent out, inviting participants to join Safer Through Unity.
Safer Through Unity was convened by United Way of Metro Chicago, reaching out to local organizations in their networks. This document outlines that process.
Each prototyping team in Safer Through Unity was given a budget of $16,000. This is a breakdown of how and for what purposes these funds are dispersed.
Over the course of a 3-day kickoff workshop, 66 people from three Chicago neighborhoods came together to deepen their understanding of the systemic social challenges facing the city. They formed 6 teams working together to impact the communities of Chicago's South and West Sides.
This workshop report details the proceedings of the kickoff workshop and the outputs of the project so far.
This post contains reflections on the kickoff workshop and the social-political context participants are facing.
Learning Journeys were conducted on Day 1 to enable a deeper understanding of the local issues and context.
Participants conducted Dialogue Interviews to hear about each other's life stories and unearth some of the deeper systemic issues.
This is the facilitator's agenda that was produced before the Launch (the facilitation team adapted and made changes during the workshop).
This guide was given to participants when they arrived at the kickoff workshop (English and Spanish versions).
This is the edited/adapted facilitator's agenda, reflecting what actually happened over the three day kickoff workshop.
This is the results of the participants brainstorming interventions and initiatives for the social challenges facing their neighborhood.
This slide deck was projected during the event. It contains workshop instructions and details in English and Spanish.
THE TEAMS OF SAFER THROUGH UNITY
The teams are currently working on iterating and adapting their projects in collaboration with the communities they're working in.
The following models represent the first round of ideas that emerged from the prototyping process. These are currently being tested out in Chicago neighborhoods.
"Amor en Austin"
Austin Love is planning to open a center focusing on providing a training ground for working on outreach, life skills and building beloved community to support the unloved in the neighborhood of Austin.
La Ley De La Communidad
"The Law Of Community"
This team is planning to open a resource center providing free and/or affordable legal and mental health services to the community in Brighton Park.
Eat Well, Live Well
"Come Bien, Vive Bien"
This team is planning to set up a community food co-op to provide access to healthy foods in Austin. The co-op would feature a grocery store and a garden, offering volunteer opportunities and health-related resources.
Rapid Response in Little Village
"Respuesta Rápida en La Villita"
This team is providing Legal Services and Rapid Response Services through neighborhood phone trees in Little Village
Reclutar y Organizar
"Recruit and Organize"
This team is organizing teachers, parents, faith organizations and other community hubs for a network of support for young people in Little Village.
This team is creating a network of parents' groups across different Sanctuary Schools in Little Village
Teams self-organized around specific intervention ideas that surfaced during the systems thinking exercise. The initial ideas were reformed through a model-building process.
Building physical models helps to ground an idea for systemic intervention in a more tangible form.
Models should be built with the hands, not the head, and shouldn't be too big. Models should rather represent the nuts-and-bolts aspects of a practical and manageable project.
Teams built models in which each piece represents an actual physical entity in the world. Each team presented their model to the entire group, and received questions and feedback.
MODEL BUILDING PHOTO GALLERY
TEAM ACTION PLANS
The teams used an action plan template to decide their next steps for community engagement and testing out their prototype interventions. The gallery below shows the results of their planning process.