Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Creating Business & Change Through Community Insight - Part 2

People's Community Market is being designed on a belief that personal behavior change is best addressed through bottom-up approaches in which the people most affected by an issue provide the primary insights and ideas for its solution. One of our company's core values is to seek out and embrace the perspectives, knowledge and ideas of West Oakland residents to craft our offerings in ways that are more aligned with residents' own values and aspirations. We call this an "asset-based" approach to serving our customers as it recognizes that residents offer vital assets - such as insight, creativity and extensive social networks - for building our company and pursuing our goals. By taking an asset-based approach to serving our community, People's Community Market will establish a reciprocal relationship with our customers in which we each have something to offer to the other. This shifts the dynamic from helping a community to being in partnership with a community to help itself.

People's Community Market is being created out of the work of its nonprofit sister organization, People's Grocery. With nearly ten years of experience in West Oakland building relationships, listening to residents and experimenting with a variety of approaches, People's Grocery has gained first-hand and personal insight into what motivates West Oakland residents. More importantly, People's Grocery has built an asset-based process for obtaining input and leadership from West Oakland residents. 

A great example is People's Grocery's "Community Health and Nutrition Demonstrators", or Community HANDs. Through this program West Oakland residents are trained to deliver health and nutrition education to other residents. The participants, as representatives of the community, contribute their own ideas and craft their own approaches for engaging other people in their community. Because these approaches taken by the Community HANDs were designed by the people that the approaches are intended for, they are turning out to be pretty effective and are generating some great ideas for how to motivate residents toward healthier diets and lifestyles.

People's Community Market is building on the foundation and success of People's Grocery to create a retail food store that authentically listens to and works with customers to craft its product offering and support services. Drawing off of People's Grocery's large social network, People's Community Market is taking a number of initial steps during its planning and design phase to draw input and leadership from West Oakland residents. A number of surveys in the community have already been conducted in the planning phase, which have had tremendous impact on the overall business concept. A Community Advisory Council is being formed in which residents will play a direct role in planning People's Community Market and conducting outreach to the community prior to and after our opening. We're also planning to hold a series of focus groups in the Summer that will take place around, appropriately, a fantastic meal created by our deli manager, Rene Cage.

We also have many plans for community engagement and leadership when People's Community Market is open and operating, such as hiring at least 60% of our managers and workers from the community, maintaining an active and influential Community Advisory Council, implementing mechanisms for capturing customer feedback and other types of customer-generated information, holding ongoing events centered in dialogue with residents, and creating pathways for community ownership of the business over time.

We will write another blog post with more detail about some of our ideas and plans for engaging community input and leadership once the store is open and operating - we're particularly excited about the partnerships with community organizations that we're developing and the ways that residents will be able to have a direct stake in the business. For now the point is clear - the only way to really change eating behavior in a community like West Oakland is to engage with, listen to and work with residents. This perspective and value is already firmly baked into People's Community Market's DNA even before we have opened our doors. It will only become a more central value as we open and begin to do serve and engage our customers and our community.

No comments:

Post a Comment