In July and August, the Our Tomorrows Project is hosting Community Sensemaking Workshops across the state to discuss the themes that have emerged from experiences of Kansans that were collected with SenseMaker. Sensemaking workshops are a pre-requisite for regional Community Action Labs, which are an opportunity to propose small, safe-to-fail Actionables in your community. This work is contributing to the Early Childhood Systems Building effort that is happening across the state of Kansas in 2019 led by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Kansas State Department of Education.

Sensemaking Workshops are co-hosted by Our Tomorrows and local partner organizations. During the workshop, we will review the patterns found in local stories, discuss themes, and choose which patterns we want to change in Community Action Labs. The findings from the workshop will be used by our organizational partners and other stakeholders to make decisions about how to best strengthen the early childhood system.

Sensemaking Workshops Use Our Tomorrows SenseMaker Data

Our Tomorrows is a process of sensemaking- using family stories to understand what is happening for families in Kansas and using that understanding to take action and make decisions. This process relies on SenseMaker- the technology that Our Tomorrows uses to collect stories about times when families were thriving or just surviving. Community Sensemaking Workshops are an opportunity to interpret Our Tomorrows SenseMaker data and determine which patterns should be prioritized for change.

There are three primary benefits to Our Tomorrows Community Sensemaking Workshops:

  1. People that shared their stories during the data collection phase are able to interpret the findings through facilitated activities, dialogue, and reflection.
  2. Participants are empowered to act by the “vector theory of change” that drives the SenseMaker process: “What can I do tomorrow to create more stories like this, and fewer stories like that?” Community Sensemaking is the first step to “fractal engagement” where every person can take appropriate action within their set of skills and goals. The “vector theory of change” relies on small actions that, when put together, create a coherent movement and a big change.
  3. Community sensemaking creates a feedback loop between communities, the SenseMaker project team, and decision-makers. Ideally, the SenseMaker approach can provide an ongoing platform to monitor developments in a community through continuous cycles of story collection, sensemaking, and action. The community sensemaking process builds trust between SenseMaker practitioners and the community and demonstrates that the goal is not just another extractive research process, but ongoing engagement and collaboration.

Get Involved

There are 6 regional Sensemaking Workshops. These 6 Workshops will launch the regional Community Action Labs. More SenseMaking Workshops are being scheduled, so stay tuned!

For more information on who to invite and what is involved, view our informational flyer here.

Invite key people in your community using the invitations below:

Pittsburg – July 19

Garden City – July 30

Colby – August 1

Wichita – August 16

Help us prepare for the Workshops by RSVP’ing on our website: ourtomorrows.kucppr.org/#sensemaking

We look forward to seeing you there!