A fundamental goal of a Community Health Innovation Region is the engagement of all sectors of a community to identify ways to improve local health and well-being. A unique highlight of this effort in Muskegon County has been the Livability Lab: Muskegon's 100-day Challenge. Now that the teams are finished with their aggressive 100-day process, we thought you might like to learn a little more how this exciting initiative came to be.
Planning and implementing the Lab required many months of work. Led locally by an eight-member Design Team the first objective of the team was to create a vision that would frame the work of the Lab. Using community-based information gathered through local surveys, focus groups, presentations, and community feedback, a vision evolved that would subsequently frame all of the work of Challenge: Creating a system that ensures livability for all Muskegon County residents. Community feedback was a critical part of this planning as the vision needed to be one that all community members could embrace and where they could see a role for themselves.
This then, was an audacious goal. While the 100-day Challenge model has been used in other cities and regions across the nation, such a broad and inclusive vision has never been attempted. Other communities would typically tackle a certain sector or one specific issue, such as a focus on high school graduation rates. But, not us. We were going to acknowledge the big, interconnected picture - all things needed for optimum livability. Muskegon County has, is, and always will be bold, willing to take risks, and ready to do things differently.
Would it work? The Design Team next sought additional input and support. To be inclusive requires the engagement of many diverse partners and voices from throughout the community. This part of the process began with the engagement of a cross-sector advisory group for the Labwe call the Core Team. Representing key leaders from throughout the county, the Core Team not only provided advisory support but also mobilized endorsement from Muskegon County businesses, government, neighborhoods and numerous health, education, and human service organizations.
Resident engagement, fundamental to the Lab’s success, continued. Building off the earlier CHIR success of the South Heights Photovoice Initiative and other neighborhood development efforts, residents were engaged through aggressive team-based outreach. From Muskegon Heights to Montague; North Muskegon to Ravenna, Design Team staff and members of the CHIR Board targeted every possible venue from church congregations to senior nutrition sites and area media to get the word out.
And finally, to create the structure necessary for what would ultimately support 19 separate Challenge Teams, local Coaches were recruited to help. Many dedicated individuals signed on to serve as Coaches for Labteams when approached. These Coaches were subsequently trained with the help of our partners at Michigan State University, and are now helping to guide our Challenge Teams through the decision-making process.
All of this extensive work paid off when September 10 finally arrived. The Livability Lab launch was at maximum capacity, with 340 people in attendance. Over 150 of these individuals subsequently stepped forward to participate in our 19 Challenge Teams. This number was unprecedented, and showed that Muskegon County was already there - ready to take bold steps forward, build off the existing energy and momentum, and accelerate it all to do something amazing together.
Visitors from the State of Michigan’s SIM (State Innovation Model) team were also in attendance, and the buzz about Muskegon made its way back to Lansing. To share both statewide and beyond the good work of Livability Lab, a film crew from Public Sector Consultants in Lansing is now in the process of creating a short documentary highlighting our Challenge Teams and telling the Muskegon. At the January 23rd Challenge Celebration event, the attendees (another full house) got a chance for a sneak peek of the documentary in the making, and were invited to the stage to talk on camera to possibly be included in the final film.
Also announced, Livability Lab 2.0! Save the Date, September 17, 2020!
One thing is for sure, we can all be very proud of the groundbreaking work we are doing together. It's innovative, it's different, it's inclusive, it's important, and for those reasons and more, it's getting good attention. Let's show them how it's done, Muskegon!
Attendees at the Livability Lab launch viewed the photographs and stories presented in this compelling exhibition. View the exhibition booklet, with photos and stories, here:
The United Way of the Lakeshore, Mercy Health Muskegon, the Community Health Innovation Region (CHIR) and many others convened a 100-Day Challenge Summit, the Livability Lab, on September 10, 2019 to bring together individuals and groups from every sector throughout our county to mobilize around a common vision of livability.
The CHIR has chosen to focus the 100-Day Challenge process on creating a system where all Muskegon County residents have access to good health and well-being; and, that our community will not only thrive, but that all residents and families will have the opportunity to individually prosper and reach their full potential.
Save the date for Livability Lab 2.0 on September 17, 2020!.
Livability (noun): Livability is the sum of the factors that add up to a community’s quality of life—including the built and natural environments, economic prosperity, social stability and cohesion, healthcare, educational opportunity, and cultural, entertainment and recreation possibilities.
Additional information about the Muskegon Community Health Innovation Region (CHIR) can be found at https://michirlearning.org
Logos above represent a partial list of leaders working together in this initiative. Participants from diverse sectors including business, education, neighborhood associations, government, non-profit, and more.