Leading the development of the first OPM Summer Design School (SDS) in Oakland gave me the chance to try develop lots of new skills from networking to building a curriculum. 

SDS is a week-long work/learn/engage event for government participants eager to experience new ways to understand and apply human-centered design methods in government. 

To produce the event I worked closely with my teammates from Lab at OPM (Office of Personnel Management) as well as partner from the Civic Design Lab from the Oakland Mayor's office and the Cosine Collective. 
We developed SDS to help government and non profit employees not only learn about Human Centered Design, but also to see it in action. To do this, we to develop workshops and site visits in partnership with leading organizations, many led by people of color and centering their work on oppressed communities. 
We partnered with the City of Oakland to give participants a real life challenge: 
How might we reduce trash dumping in the city? 

The housing crisis in Oakland and throughout the Bay Area is part of a complex array of systemic issues including health and economic inequalities. One symptom of these larger issues is dumping trash in local neighborhoods instead of disposing them properly. The dumped items can include couches and mattresses after an eviction, debris from a kitchen remodel, old car parts and more. 

Participants, including some from teams in the City addressing the issue, worked to understand the issue and develop concepts using the new methods they were learning.
I feel the best way to learn something is to jump right in and experience it. However, it's also important to have guidance along the way. The Cosine Collective came into provide great one on one coaching to participants during their project work. My OPM colleagues and I helped to train and support the coaches along the way. 
The final projects were presented Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, city leaders and community members. One concept, the Bulky Block Party, even went on to be successfully implemented by the city.

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