A Problem Worth Solving

The Athabasca Design Lab team has voted on a topic of focus for the duration of the project, and its pursuit will hopefully lead to significant positive change in the community. The topic the community chose is about communication and the sharing of important information in the community, specifically the idea that Athabascans often learn about critical information from others in the community, and those who are less connected miss out on important opportunities, worsening isolation.

This insight came from interviews that participants in The Design Lab conducted with other community members who reflected a diverse range of demographics and experiences. These interviews focused on social issues in the community and, more specifically, on housing, transportation, and mental health. Participants compiled and summarized the perspectives they heard from over 50 Athabascans and then identified common themes, which The SIL AB team turned into insight statements. These statements provided a deeper look into the underlying factors beneath social issues in the community and provided amore specific path forward. A surprising observation from this data was the idea that resources and opportunities for connection are available in the community, but many people have trouble finding or utilizing the information that would allow them to choose how to engage with those opportunities.

The designers participating in The Athabasca Design Lab have identified three questions that will guide their work as they problem-solve around this issue:

  1. How might we ensure that relevant information for community members is accessible to everyone in the community (online & offline) and that Athabascans are equipped to access and utilize that information?
  2. How might we design communication strategies that actively promote inclusivity and diversity, allowing every member of the community the opportunity to feel a sense of belonging?
  3. How might we identify communication gaps and then take action to fill those gaps and enhance connection?

In future sessions, this team of local designers will begin to generate ideas that could address this issue, create prototypes to represent those ideas, test their prototypes with input from the broader community, and then select one solution to fund and test on a larger scale in their community. The Social Impact Lab Alberta team will support the initiation and testing of this final prototype through advising and funding, offering $10,000 to support the development of a final prototype and assistance in applying for further grants & funding opportunities.