The Muskegon Livability Framework summarizes the community’s goals related to creating a system that ensures livability for all Muskegon County residents. The Livability Elements (in blue) represent what people need to thrive and prosper in Muskegon County. The Community Conditions (in orange) represent what needs to be in place across the county to promote the Livability Elements and achieve the Vision. Download the Framework below to access clickable links to explore the elements, conditions, and root causes in depth.
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. As teams near the end of 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 Story. Be sure to save the date for the 100-day Challenge Celebration on January 23, so you can get a first peek at the film.
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.
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If you are ready to participate in working toward the future we want in Muskegon County, in cross-sector teamwork, and learning new skills, there is still plenty of opportunity to get involved. Join us at the Celebration Day and let's see what the future brings.
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.
After months of preparation, and compiling information and feedback, we have collectively begun to take action! We are energized, inspired, and focused on the work it will take to move our community in the direction we all envision. September 10 was the launch, but the real work begins now! Help take us to the next level in the 100-day challenge that is unfolding now.
The Livability Lab is the catalyst event for bringing all sectors - business, education, health, neighborhood associations, faith-based organizations, non-profit, government, and more - in the Muskegon community together to address strengths and areas of concern regarding our overall livability index. Together we'll apply new skills that support positive systems change.
The 100-day Challenge is like the R&D, or research and development phase, that businesses use to successfully introduce new products and services. A place to be creative, take risks, think differently, get client feedback, and review and refine the process.
Local coaches, trained by Michigan State University's ABLe Change leaders, are an ongoing part of the Challenge Team process at the Lab, and will guide with proven techniques and skills that help move the conversation forward and spark creative ideas and solutions.
It's important that we have participation from as many people as possible, anyone who lives, works, and plays in Muskegon County, to get a true representation of our community.
We have spent the last year gathering community input, from attending neighborhood association meetings and resident programs, to large community conversations, to hundreds of in-person interviews. We gathered 300 people together on September 10 and shared additional information and formed Challenge Teams. There is still much time ahead for anyone who wishes to get involved - if you haven't already, please participate in the conversation! Send us an email though the form above to get on the mailing list, or if you have direct questions email them to LivabilityLab@gmail.com.
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.