We recognize that inequity, in the form of racism, and discrimination, is a public health crisis and that systemic inequities exist where we live, work, play, learn and worship.
Through continued support by the Kresge Foundation and the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa, the health department, in partnership with Engaging Inquiry, initiated a systems practice inquiry to understand the interconnected system of beliefs, behaviors, and structural elements that continue to produce unwanted outcomes. The inquiry was designed to help the community – together – make sense of what is seen and experienced, locate points of energy and design for impactful engagement.
Our vision led us to explore the framing question, “What accounts for the current level of equity in our communities?” The resulting maps from this inquiry helps the system see itself and shows patterns that reinforce existing mental models instead of only problems.
The Deep Structure central feedback loop begins the narrative and tells the story of a community separated which undermines its ability to thrive. 19 additional loops show the key dynamics and narratives that bring voice and context to the loops. With a global pandemic and a national movement for racial justice serving as a backdrop, the community explored existing energy present in the system and opportunities where a small push in the system could move the community closer to the Guiding Star. Facing fear, building a sense of belonging for collaborative leadership, and community-driven investment were identified as having the potential leverage to bring about transformational change.