Dianachu_Masters_Design_2021.pdf (10.83 MB)

Our Ideas Belong Here: Co-Designing a Community Investment Fund

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posted on 24.06.2021, 18:50 by Diana Chun
!is thesis is about a year-long Participatory Capital pilot project I designed with the community members of Stowe Township and McKees Rocks Borough, located near Pittsburgh, PA. What is Participatory Capital? Simply put, it is a type of funding that is democratically decided
and distributed. With the community’s input, its distribution process and outcomes reflect and serve its true value and needs. !e pilot project’s goal was to help local businesses by finding an innovative way to distribute a twenty thousand dollar donation. Community leaders and I invited five community members to be our co-designers. I designed and facilitated four workshops to listen to their opinions and guide them through collective decision-making. We discussed community values, the local economy, and the funding distribution program. The Community Pay-It-Forward framework they created as a final culmination was wonderfully authentic and innovative. On the other hand, this is also the story about how a beginner designer
went into the community, built relationships, learned, and grew so much from the process. I shared my personal feelings and thoughts at the end of every chapter, so check that out. When the local non-profit director asked me, a design student looking for a community co-design opportunity, I jumped in right away to join the project. I am so glad I did. It was truly a fantastic journey to be part
of. I saw how co-design allowed a group of individuals to overcome existing power dynamics and barriers to become a collective. With all the learnings, I am creating a co-design starter kit, Our Ideas Belong Here (OIBH), so anyone can experience the power of co-design and be inspired to become a catalyst of social innovations in their community.




Degree Type

Master's Thesis



Degree Name

  • Master of Design (MDes)


Kristin Hughes