Lean Participatory Design

A Simplified Guide to Human-Centered Home and Community Building

Course Description

We, New Story, developed this course because we’ve seen first-hand the impact participatory design can have on home and community building.

This course is an evolving effort to communicate everything we’re learning in our own work. In the past four years of building, the insights we’ve gained from beneficiaries have been invaluable. We want to pass along everything we’ve learned, so that as a collective group, we can all build better.

We created this course to provide a simplified, “lean” approach to participatory design. This course is designed for anyone, on all levels of knowledge and experience. We’ll walk you through, from start to finish, the basic knowledge you need to start implementing simple participatory design processes in your organization.


How to find and work with urban designers.


Everything you need to plan a workshop.


Choosing and training workshop facilitators.


Planning and building with empathy.

Expert Guidance

Throughout this course, you’ll be learning from New Story COO, Alexandria Lafci. Alexandria has more than a decade of experience in domestic and international development.

She’s led financial capacity building efforts in rural Central America; briefed African heads of state on poverty alleviation through land reform; and led projects in 7 countries spanning microfinance, development, supply chain, education, and beyond. In 2016, she was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Alexandria directs New Story’s efforts in human-centered design and brings a wealth of expertise and hands-on experience to the table.

Additionally, all of the learnings in this course were refined by input from local leaders and seasoned urban designers in the countries where we work.

Learn at Your Pace

There are four progressive chapters in the course, and one Q&A section at the end. Each chapter includes a video, a chapter of the guide, and any related resources you might need.

The materials will always be here for you to reference — and you can even print off the Field Guide and Resources to take with you wherever you go. Each video is less than five minutes long, and the accompanying guide chapter should take no longer than 25 minutes to read through each time. Our aim is for you to be able to learn the material easily and thoroughly, at your own pace!

We’re Here for You

Once you’ve finished the course materials, you might still have questions. That’s totally fine.

Please reach out to us and let us know what you need. We recognize this is a collaborative effort at creating meaningful change in the world, so we want you to know we’re in it with you.

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New Story?