The Merced Project

Collaborating with community leaders to revitalize the economy in Merced, California.

Design Strategy

The City of Merced, known as the “Gateway to Yosemite,” is home to a population of nearly 80,000 individuals, about 30% of which are currently living below the poverty line. Homes at the median level in Merced saw a dramatic loss in value, 62%, the biggest drop anywhere in the country, according to data from Forbes. According to Zillow, by the end of 2009, house prices in Merced had returned to the levels seen over a decade earlier. This crisis has established a strong community of individuals and organizations that are actively seeking rich new ways of thinking about commerce and innovation, in order to transform the community into a rich space for survival, ingenuity, and break through.

 

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Several organizations within Merced decided to take action on these aspirations by developing a town-hall meeting of sorts to bring leading voices from around the nation to lead the community into new modes of thinking. verynice was fortunate enough to have been approached to develop a workshop for the community of Merced at this gathering. The attendees of the gathering were a richly diverse audience of about 100 individuals that collectively represented the community of Merced.

 

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In this space, we piloted a version of one of our entrepreneurial brainstorm methodologies, the Serendipitous Business Plan Generator (SBPG) that was designed specifically for this gathering.

The SBPG works by juxtaposing three components: Scenario, Opportunity, and Modify Element.

Scenario:

The situation (i.e. Growth, Collapse, etc.) in which the participant is starting their business. This element is designed to give insight into the resources they will be able to leverage for their business plan.

Merced02

In this space, we piloted a version of one of our entrepreneurial brainstorm methodologies, the Serendipitous Business Plan Generator (SBPG) that was designed specifically for this gathering.Each of the 10 images were placed on 10 different 30 minutes, the participants were prompted to develop a concept for a business that would exist in Merced that considered all three of the generated components as restrictions in the making process. In order to foster a bit of friendly competition amongst the groups, the community was informed half-way through the exercise that some tables were given the same opportunities to capitalize on, thus creating direct competition between the groups in order to push the ideas beyond the top-level, initial, concepts.

After 30 minutes of rapid business generation, each group delivered a pitch to the audience as a whole, presenting the details of their business plans while three of the generated components as restrictions in the making process. In order to foster a bit of friendly competition amongst the groups, the community was informed half-way through the exercise that some tables were given the same opportunities to capitalize on, thus creating direct competition between the groups in order to push the ideas beyond the top-level, initial, concepts.

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Credits

Facilitator/Project Lead:
Matthew Manos

Photography:
Kate Manos


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