Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Do I need to hire someone to do this?

There needs to be a dedicated team member to ensure that the process goes smoothly, but they do not need to be full time. Depending on their role, LPD could take 30-50% of their time for a few weeks. You simply need someone to take ownership of the project from an internal standpoint, recognizing that you’ll also be bringing in facilitators for the day of the workshop to carry some of the weight as well.

How do I know if LPD is right for my organization?

We believe LPD is right for any organization. Anytime you’re looking for a solution to a complex problem, it’s important to engage the people who are experiencing the problem firsthand. You’ll always be well-served by taking time to listen to their input.

What if I can’t find an urban designer or architect to work with?

There are so many urban designers and architects in the world, we have complete confidence you’ll be able to find one who’ll be excited to work with you. Keep in mind, you’re offering them the chance to participate in something with a meaningful, long-term impact. It’s your job to really sell them on that excitement – and to be persistent in your pursuit of working with them.

About the workshop

Will you come run my workshop for me?

We wish we could be at every single LPD workshop with you. Since we can’t, we’re here to provide hands-on support and make sure you have everything you need. Reach out to us and we’ll set up a time to chat.

What if there’s language barrier between me and the people I serve?

You’ll definitely need to find workshop facilitators who speak the local language. We work with our trusted local partners to find high caliber workshop facilitators who are not only fluent, but also who have all the other important qualities facilitators need.

How do I invite the families to the workshop?

This will be different in every community. As a baseline, wherever you are, make sure families know far enough in advance that they can plan accordingly, and then remind them 2-3 days ahead of time so they remember to come. In most places, you may be able to use text message communication with families, and that works well in our experience. Some places where that’s not possible, you may need to go door to door, letting families know about the workshop and inviting them to come. You can also post big signs to remind everyone of the date and time. Ultimately, however you choose to communicate, just make sure your communication is clear and timely, giving families all the runway they need to plan accordingly.

After the workshop

Once I’m doing LPD, how do I know it’s working?

The first point of realization will probably be during the workshop. After some trial and error, the conversation will eventually get moving, and you’ll start to know things are working. You’ll hear suggestions from participants that are smart, tactical, and insightful — things you couldn’t have thought of or known without their input.

In the long term, measuring impact data is a great way to understand the success of the project. We developed a simple tool to make impact data capture easier for your team. Want more info? Reach out!

What if families don’t have “good” feedback or we can’t meet their requests?

When the participant feedback seems to be lacking, the first thing we ask is, ‘are we asking the right questions?’ Typically, nonspecific or vague feedback reflects poor question asking on our part, and shows us we need to dig into the “why” behind what people have to say. If people are intimidated or overwhelmed by our questions, we need to step back and break them down a little more, allowing for better answers to our questions.

Another reason families might not be forthcoming in their feedback is because they may have an underlying fear of being denied a home. Make sure it’s clear from the very beginning: your feedback will not disqualify you here. If participants feel confident their feedback won’t affect their ability to receive a home in the long run, they’re more likely to be honest in the process.

Finally, expectation setting is a huge part of the workshop process. We should make it very clear at the very beginning that not all requests will be able to be met. Throughout the workshop, families are welcome to vocalize any dreams they have — like a pool in every yard, or a massive community garden — recognizing that these may be “future dreams” rather than something we can build right now.

What if families don’t agree on a solution?

Great question. The goal in a workshop is not for everyone in the workshop to agree on a solution, rather, the goal is to get lots of ideas that’ll help form your plan of action going forward. It’s actually very important not to come to any agreements or make promises on the workshop day, in case the ideas somehow get filtered out in the design process. Having lots of input and understanding family thinking is the general goal of a workshop day, so it’s totally fine if participants don’t come to a consensus.

What are some things New Story has learned since first starting to use LPD?

We’ve learned a lot. Here are just a few of the things we’ve seen time and time again…

We’ve learned that people are generous and willing to help, more than you might initially expect. We’ve had so many incredible skilled workers and volunteers join forces with us along the way.

We’ve learned that LPD can be as informal as a conversation on someone’s porch, and still be very effective and meaningful. We’ve had conversations with families while they did their laundry or cooked their dinner, and gathered insights we needed to move forward.

We’ve learned that families have a lot more to say than we could have imagined. Continually, their ideas outpace and outshine our own. Their input always goes above and beyond what we could have built without them.

We’ve learned that LPD bridges more than just our own knowledge gaps. Workshops almost always serve to bring together members of the community who might not already know or trust one another. The process of building a community together provides a unique opportunity to see each other as teammates in the work, instead of strangers.

And we’ve learned that gaining involvement from more stakeholders is almost always better. If the contractor, the local partner, and the home recipients can all be in on the conversations from the
beginning — the more, the merrier. Involving all project stakeholders in the process allows for greater buy-in and a better “team” mentality from everyone involved, which is priceless.

Have questions we didn’t mention here?

Feel free to ask.