Community Innovation Lab | Inclusive Economies: Indianapolis, IN

This is the third round of EmcArts' Community Innovation Labs and focuses on Inclusive Economies.

Indianapolis joins EmcArts to embark on Round Three of Community Innovation Labs. Unlike prior labs in Round One (Winston-Salem, NC, and Providence, RI) and Round Two (Dallas, TX) which address pressing social issues (food security, racial inequality, community safety, and climate justice) defined by the communities that applied - the focus of this new effort is pre-determined: building inclusive economies within American communities.

The Community Innovation Lab in Indianapolis is a collaborative effort between EmcArts and local conveners Spirit & Place, Groundwork Indy and the Kheprw Institute. The Lab seeks to uncover and advance strategies toward creating more inclusive and sustainable economies for those who are too frequently pushed aside by traditional systems, with a particular focus on youth aging out of foster care and returning citizens.

In January 2018, the Indianapolis Community Innovation Lab entered the second phase which consists of six workshops, spanning the course of 5 months. This workshop series provides the conceptual foundations and experiential learning environment for the final phase of the Lab when Lab members engage a broader audience in developing prototypes aimed at testing potential system changes.  

The core issue will be explored through the intersection of artistic practice and the pioneering field of adaptive change. Complexity Theory, Systems Change and the development of Adaptive Capacities are all unpacked within the workshops, utilizing experiential activities such as "Learning Journeys," "Small Experiments with Radical Intent" and Lateral Thinking exercises. The Lab also introduces a community-driven research tool that enables rapid and community controlled data collection and interpretation. 

All workshops are designed - in consultation with the local process facilitator and artist facilitator - to incorporate artistic practice and to be highly interactive and experiential.

Community Innovation Labs | Inclusive Economies - Phase 2

Workshop #1: Overview of the Lab

Workshop #2: Seeing the System and Interdependence

Workshop #3: Embracing the Unknown - Building Bridges and Designing Experiments

Workshop #4: Seeking Leverage for Systems Change

Workshop #5: Forming Ensembles

Workshop #6: Activating Ensembles

About the Inclusive Economies Lab
The exclusion of many community entrepreneurs and residents from significant financial opportunity has its roots in a wide variety of restrictive policies and discriminatory mindsets by institutional investors and traditional private-sector lending institutions, by government at all levels, and even by the nonprofit sector. Access to mainstream capital and the many benefits it affords in moving up the ladder in the US has been impeded historically for entire geographic communities based upon culture and skin color (the practice commonly referred to as “redlining”); and for many individuals due to gender, class, education, sexual orientation, and non-traditional profiles such as criminal records or histories of addiction. Products offered to these historically excluded communities are often disproportionately “alternative” high-cost vehicles, as evidenced by the proliferation of “sub-prime” financiers (check cashers, pawn shops, and payday lenders) in low-income communities, and the “predatory” home refinancing that played a critical role less than a decade ago in the massive foreclosures and loss of equity in minority communities.  

In addition, the work of creating wider financial inclusion in communities in the US depends on recognizing the need to cultivate effectively the many diverse populations that comprise viable markets through effective training and support that overcomes human and cultural barriers.  In other words, full success in achieving robust financial access would see not only the greater availability of capital and loans, business technical assistance, and employment opportunities, but also “financial fitness” on the demand side to optimize the uptake and utilization of newly provided opportunities. This depends crucially on relationship-building, mutual connections, and enthusiastic commitment by consumers. 

The Labs are designed to help communities utilize the artistic process as a means to work together in innovative new ways in response to a specific community-defined challenge. Deeply influenced by systems thinking and complexity theory, Community Innovation Lab | Inclusive Economies aims to launch innovative programs and activities but also to increase adaptive potential and capacity across each community as an embedded asset in achieving sustainable financial and economic health in the future.

Community Innovation Lab | Inclusive Economies is funded in part by MetLife Foundation