For almost a year in 2014 a diverse group of stakeholders in the controversial education reform movement in Puerto Rico requested SDI Associate Ramon Daubon’s help in organizing and moderating a slowly broadening dialogue separate from the contentious official policy process. The Corillo (“our little group”) dialogue broadened its participant base over time and was able to draft a basic document on the essentials of a public education that all parties can adhere to as a basis for broader discussion.

Daubon also collaborated with Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR) and the multi-actor “Imagine Santurce”, a place-making initiative, to convene stakeholders in a variety of fields (e.g. education, transportation, unused properties, access to capital, the arts as convener) in order to reactivate the central business district of the city. Daubon moderated a monthly informative gathering where working groups reported on topical activities which had the potential to evolve into SD spaces.

Also in Santurce, Daubon and a group of business students in a senior seminar on community development at Universidad Sagrado Corazón (USC) selected a sub-district around “calle Loiza” as a field case study. In collaboration with urban-planning students from MIT, the University of PR and a local design firm, the seminar is experimenting with applying to community settings design thinking strategies normally conceived for business or institutional settings. Parallel to SD’s practical evolution from national conflicts to communities to organizations to firms, the five-stage design thinking process (coincident with SD’s five stages) is here attempting to evolve in the opposite direction, from the firm to the civic. The conceptual contribution of design thinking is to have the participants in a dialogue see themselves as designers of an economic future that they—and only they—have yet to invent. The practices of design add a new dimension to the recurring ebb and flow motion of the SD stages.

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