Hive Chicago Moonshots

The collective action framework for Hive Chicago: calls-to-action that mobilize the community to generate solutions around shared issues.

Duration of Project: January 2014 – Present
Organization: Mozilla, Hive Chicago
Audience: Several hundred Chicago youth service and education professionals.


Project Description

In the Hive Learning Networks theory of change, spread of innovations created in a networked context are essential to achieve at-scale changes in the learning landscape. If we can mobilize educators in our communities to create collaborative innovations that catalyze others to extend their work, then we can grow our networks to make a scale-level impact in learning locally, nationally and internationally.

In 2013, members of the Hive Chicago collaboratively shaped a set of four goals: equitable access, learning pathways, innovative program design, and external value. To achieve these aspirational goals, Chicago membership further articulated six Moonshots in 2014. These calls-to-action serve to organize Moonshot working groups around shared issue areas – onramps to learning, transportation, school engagement, parent engagement, youth voice, and data informed decision making – to generate seed solutions that can be developed collaboratively.


User-Centered Methodology

Towards the end of 2013, Hive Chicago had a set of established goals, but no machanism by which members could organize to work towards those goals, no means of assessing progress towards the goals, and no place to openly share their work in progress.

Hive also needed an open, accessible format for “inviting others” to join the collective action movement. Inviting the participation of experts in the community was essential to solving the problems being identified by the network.

The inspiration and the spirit of the Moonshot work came first from the hack day approach that had become popular. In particular, my personal experience as a session leader at The Mozilla Festival and one of the designers of the Adler’s Civic Hack Day were the most direct influences on the Moonshot design.

These exciting, inspirational, open, and sometimes impromptu hack day events combined a wide variety of professionals to form teams and create prototypes in a single-day sprint. However, major failure points included: a limited understanding of issues, prototypes with limited relevance or utility, a lack of follow-through or continued progress after the event, and day-of participants that felt lost or unable to connect with the work being explored.

In order to address these fail-points, the Moonshot framework was developed to organize activity leading into, and continuing out of the hack day event. The Moonshot planning process began by polling members around the prompt:

What are the most persistent issues in your day-to-day work that stand in the way of achieving our collective Hive goals.

Community members wrote their ideas down on post-it notes, then sorted their identified issues by affinity or similarity with each other. These formed generalized issue areas. In the next step, community members were asked to vote on those issues they thought were most relevant to each issue area in order to focus more narrowly on the most common and pernicious ones.

These issue areas became the Moonshots – so called because they feature ambitious and difficult challenges to solve, but also demonstrate concrete steps towards achieving aspirational goals – much like US President Kennedy’s Moonshot during the space race of the 1960’s.

As a final step, Moonshot working groups were formed to meet regularly during the monthly meetups of 2014. The goal was to curate an issue area with information and actionable work in preperation for a community hack-day, where external contributors could be invited to help the network make progress it could not make alone.

Moonshot working groups produced narratives that described the context of their issue area, identified seed solutions that could be further developed into prototypes, and identified exemplary solutions where successful progress had already been made.

The final hack day event – Hive Chicago Buzz – was held on January 14 and 15, 2015. The two day event featured an introduction to the network, and a day-long work day organized into sessions focused on the most promising Moonshot seed solutions.

The event drew a crowd that doubled normal Hive meetup attendance, welcomed dozens of new faces, and produced a dozen prototype solutions that have seen continued momentum, work and progress in monthly meetups at the start of 2015.

The Moonshots are also being used as an organizing element of the Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning Request for Proposals (RFP) at the Chicago Community Trust.


Related Evidence & Artifacts

All Moonshot work is visible on the Hive Chicago website, like this Transportation page for example.

In each Moonshot page, you will find a “repository” that links to a public space for ideation and feedback on Civic ArtWorks, like this Transportation repository for example.

The culminating event for Moonshot work in 2014 was Hive Chicago Buzz.

This blog post from Hive Director, Sam Dyson, details the outputs and products of Hive Chicago Buzz.