GIFC: Designing for Extremes

Last month, we convened in Washington, DC for our Winter 2020 Policy Meeting. Read on for a re-cap of our panel on designing your city to meet the needs of all people.​

Designing for Extremes

When addressing city problems, leaders are often faced with a dilemma: pursue a targeted policy approach that isolates a solution for those most marginalized, or put in place more general policies that will work for the majority of the population. The concept of Designing for Extremes asserts that when you design policies and programs for those with the greatest needs, you will create systems that work for everyone. Our Designing for Extremes panel at the Winter Policy Meeting uplifted examples of mayors who have decided to “design for the extreme” across a variety of policy areas.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss from Grand Rapids, MI discussed how her city’s transportation policies have built-in considerations for people with disabilities through innovations such as bus shelters made out of recycled materials, an autonomous vehicle pilot program, and extensive listening sessions with the disabled community. Mayor Gabriel Ortega from Fountain, CO talked about Communities that Care, which seeks to reduce teen substance abuse through creating a sense of community cohesion.

Mayor Mitch Colvin from Fayetteville, NC presented a multi-pronged approach to addressing homelessness through a suite of programs such as a Tiny Home Village, raising the minimum wage for all municipal employees, and community centers. And finally, Mayor Melvin Carter from St. Paul, MN, talked about targeted solutions to address housing instability. Through an Experience Matters grant with AARP, St. Paul is launching a volunteer-driven program to make small housing repairs to reduce housing code violations.

View all presentations from the panel here, as well as our briefing book of resources here.