Stories from the Elevator Project

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Everything We Know We Learned in Round One

06 January

Some things can only be learned in the doing. The more novel and innovative the project, the more there is to learn by just going out and getting it done. That’s exactly what over 60 Guelph idea-makers, investors and administrators did last year while launching round one of the Elevator Project – a brand new local initiative enabling community members to realize their dreams for making Guelph a better place to live, work and play.

However, there are challenges implicit in prototyping this kind of endeavour live. How do you anticipate and navigate the inevitable hiccups of such a fresh approach when no comparable projects exist? Thankfully, one of the benefits of striving for an informal, grassroots, imagineering process is access to feedback from our incredibly generous community. As it turns out, one of the most valued outcomes of the whole EP experience was that community of actionistas getting to know each other better. Idea-makers found new networking connections, new approaches for meeting community needs, and new ideas for taking action.

And that’s great, but the best learning comes from breaking down the things that didn’t quite go as planned. This year’s revamped Elevator Project grew from listening closely to participant feedback. What emerged were three key issues that were the seeds for promising new ways to enrich everyone’s EP experience the second time around.

Issue #1: Communication is key

The downside of striving for an informal, grassroots imagineering process is losing touch with some of the basic house-keeping. Last year, we had many amazing individuals, groups, and organizations involved, but often only one person’s contact information. Keeping abreast of how a project was progressing and keeping the project members abreast of how EP was evolving got onerous and unwieldy in a hurry.

Solution #1:

This year, we’re identifying all of the idea-makers involved in any given project. As well, we’re actively encouraging all idea-makers to follow EP on Twitter and Facebook – and of course follow this blog – to stay in the loop for exciting updates.

Issue #2: Support is necessary

Although some of our imagineers were veteran community-builders, a significant portion were less experienced with getting their idea investor-ready.

Solution #2:

Not only will we be continuing our popular Idea Maker Mingle events to network the stalwarts with the fresh faces, we will also be introducing the Elevator Academy as an opportunity to take your brainstorming all the way through to completed project plan, and learn transferable skills that will help you with project-planning beyond your EP experience.

Issue #3: Clarity rules

Much of the feedback we received expressed confusion about how the process was unfolding and what the expectations were regarding submitted ideas and project proposals – much of that was due to the flux involved in live prototyping a project with ambitions on this scale.

Solution #3:

This year, the process is set and will be readily available on our website when we launch round two. Meanwhile, the Elevator Academy will provide a touchstone for idea-makers as they navigate their way to creating their most promising project plan.

Do you have more feedback to share? Please drop us a line through Twitter, or Facebook and let us know how the Elevator Project can better help you make Guelph a better place to live, work and play!

Everyone has something to give in making a strong community. Contribute your ideas, time, elbow grease, and investment in making Guelph a better place to live, work and play. The Elevator Project – Guelph is on the rise! Stay connected with us through Twitter and Facebook