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Action Model Toolkit

Section 3

Prepare for Your First Action Model Workshop

Now you’re ready to finalize your goals and approach for redevelopment — and actually create your Action Model. You’ll do that with your Development Community during a workshop. This section will help you get ready.

Planning Your Workshop

What is the Action Model Workshop?

The first workshop is just a larger, more formal meeting with your Development Community. The workshop usually takes 2 to 4 hours. Usually, you’ll have a second workshop later to finalize your goals.

During your first workshop, you’ll agree on a plan and may create your Action Model during the meeting. Then, you’ll have a completed Action Model for redevelopment that you can keep refining.

Prepare ahead of time.

An effective workshop needs preparation. You’ll need to find a good space to hold your meeting and the right supplies so things run smoothly.

Download the Facilitator’s Guide [PDF - 70 KB] to help you get ready.

Tip: Organize a potluck for your workshop — or see if someone in the Development Community can pay for pizza. Eating together builds a sense of community.

Running Your Workshop

Use the Action Model presentation.

We’ve included a sample presentation [PPTX - 764 KB] (in Microsoft PowerPoint format) to show at your workshop. It uses material from this toolkit and will help your Development Community understand the Action Model and get excited about what you can accomplish with it.

You can add slides to this presentation to tailor it to your project. If you don’t have PowerPoint, you can edit the presentation using free Open Office software for Windows or Mac.

Ask questions.

To get the group on the same page at the start of your meeting, ask some key questions.

  • How do you define your community? Is it everyone who lives in the same neighborhood? Or is it a looser group of people, based on a shared outlook, ethnicity, or economic status? Do you need to encourage people to invite anyone who might want to be involved to make sure all are represented? How people define their community will affect their view of the project.
  • What are your expectations for this project? Make sure everyone has a realistic sense of what you can achieve.
  • Will you need funding for this project? We discuss funding in Section 5, but you need to start talking about it now. Is funding necessary, or could you meet your goals with volunteers?

Engage the group.

One way to do this is to ask participants:

  • Can you stay involved for the long-term? Even if they’re excited at first, people may get busy and lose interest in a project over time. Stress that this is a long-term project and will take months or years to complete. Team members need to understand the commitment.
  • Do you think your community is ready for these changes? Will the larger community support the changes you’re considering? If not, you may want to change your approach.

Agreeing on Goals

Start small.

Don’t take on a project that’s too big. Start with something small and doable. If it succeeds, it will naturally lead to bigger changes. For example:

  • Instead of redeveloping a whole block, start with a single building
  • Instead of cleaning up a whole river, focus on one part of the waterfront
  • Instead of large-scale food access projects, begin with one community garden

Little improvements can grow to have a big impact. “I was working on an Action Model project to plant community gardens, and talked to a man who said he was thinking about buying an old, rundown house across the street. He mentioned that he loved sunflowers, and I promised that we’d plant sunflowers if he bought it. Well, he bought it and fixed it up. And we planted the flowers for him.” — Participant in the Utica Action Model Project

Create your Action Model.

Remember, the steps of the Action Model are all questions that your Development Community will answer. At your workshop, go through each question and come up with answers:

  1. What are the issues in the community?
  2. How can development address these issues?
  3. What are the corresponding community health benefits?
  4. What data are needed to measure change?

Get your answers down on paper (using a spreadsheet can keep things organized). When everyone’s had a chance to speak, vote on your approach to finalize your answers. Once you’re done, your answers are a draft of your Action Model.

Here’s a blank Action Model form [DOCX - 29 KB] that you can use to make your own in Microsoft Word format. You can also look at this community health monitoring report from the Baraboo, Wisconsin project [PDF - 7.4 MB]. You’ll find an example of a completed Action Model starting on page 13.

Head off disagreement.

Another challenge is that the members of your Development Community may come in with very different goals.

To prevent misunderstandings — both now and later — it’s important to use your workshop to find goals you agree on. You can always vote on the issues you want to address now and the ones you will save for later.

Take next steps.

Once you have a draft of your Action Model, you’re ready to move forward. In the next section, you’ll learn how to finalize your Action Model and plan for the project’s future.

Next: Keep the Project Moving

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