Articles by Kate O'Brien

About Kate O'Brien

Kate O'Brien is a consultant and writer for Meeting of the Minds. A collaborative consultant focused on facilitation, coaching, and capacity building, Kate supports an array of change agents and their transformative work in communities across the United States.

Designing Roadway Infrastructure Through the Lens of Child Safety

On offer at this year’s MOBILIZE summit were several tools, resources, and case studies of projects whose leaders aim to re-humanize public roadways and disrupt the automobile-centric culture that dominates them in many places. What follows are a few key highlights focused on advancing universally accessible improvements to the built environment.

Behavior Change Case Study: Remix

The Remix team brings a multidisciplinary approach to their change management work, which helps them complement municipal government clients, whose stakeholders tend to be siloed into separate departments. “We’re fairly unique in the software industry, because our team is blended,” Tiffany explains. One half of their team is comprised of transportation practitioners and policy experts, and the other half is made up of software developers and designers. “We bring to transportation planning the culture of co-creation and fast iteration that is typically found in the software industry,” she says, “so, we go into a room having both those muscles to flex.”

Behavior Change Case Study: LA Department of Water & Power – The Shared Solar Program

Once LADWP acknowledged the skewed trends in solar participation, the utility began promoting its programs in lower-income communities and communities of color. These areas, which the State of California had designated as ‘disadvantaged’, were the same ones where LADWP’s data had shown little to no solar penetration. “LADWP prioritized solar infrastructure installations atop homes in those neighborhoods, enabling households to host solar power generation and earn money by selling excess electricity back to the grid.” But, even after focusing its efforts in underrepresented areas, LADWP staff saw that participation still trended toward homeowners who were, on the whole, wealthier and whiter.

Behavior Change Case Study: Elemental Excelerator – The Equity & Access Program

Elemental Excelerator was first established in Hawaii as a place-based, clean energy accelerator. Its model is reflective of the fact that the organization’s founding roots were laid upon a set of islands, and was designed to help people on those islands reach their fullest potential. Accordingly, Elemental centers in its work an ethos of deep respect for relationships and for the land, which are essential for anyone living or doing business in a small place inhabited by a small community of people and surrounded by water.

Behavior Change Case Study: Sacramento Municipal Utility District – Driving Electrification

Much can be learned about promoting individual and population-scale behavior change from SMUD’s efforts to drive electrification across its residential and business customer base. Arlen stated that his team’s work was informed directly by the MINDSPACE and EAST frameworks. Specifically, by building an engagement strategy informed by human behavior and known cognitive biases in the human brain, along with nuanced data and trends about their customers, SMUD was able to directly engage with their customers in ways that were meaningful to them and responsive to their particular tendencies.

Off-Hours Delivery: Right-Sizing Policies When One-Size-Fits-All Just Won’t Do

Implementing off hours delivery (OHD) across a region can be particularly advantageous. In São Paulo, shifting inner urban core deliveries to off-hours means carriers can use their trucks by day to do suburban or rural deliveries, and by night to complete inner city deliveries. This complementary pattern means carriers’ assets are in productive use around the clock, thereby lowering their costs overall. In fact, a major driver of this policy shift has been the carrier companies’ syndicate. They have been pressuring government and receivers to use OHD because it’s in their financial best interest, as our pilot has confirmed.

Behavior Change Case Study: Cleveland Neighborhood Progress – The Racial Equity & Inclusion Initiative

The approach taken by Erika and the Cleveland Neighborhood Progress team to develop and drive a racial equity and inclusion initiative is as multifaceted as it is inspiring. In developing and nurturing the projects and partnerships that comprised the Year of Awareness Building, the Cleveland Neighborhood Progress team appears to have drawn from many aspects of the EAST and MINDSPACE frameworks.

Behavior Change Case Study: The National Street Service Project

The kinds of behavior change NSS sought centered on how people think, how they vote, and how they engage in and advocate for change. The idea that seeded the genesis of and strategy behind the National Streets Service project was that transforming streets for a human scale would require building political capital. Thus, the NSS project was designed to engage people meaningfully and thoughtfully by embracing the tendencies of human nature and behavior.

Behavior Change Case Study: People’s Liberty

The People’s Liberty philanthropic lab was established with the intention of changing the field of foundation philanthropy and the potential scale of impact such institutions can bring about in the community development realm. While Eric acknowledges that the actual change realized by People’s Liberty was in the way it redefined community development, it’s clear there is much to be learned from the behavior change aspects of this initiative.

Testing for Efficacy: Assessing the Real Impacts of E-Commerce Policy & Practice

Europe has been experimenting with and using different types of package pickup strategies. For example, in France, there are pick-up points at either post offices or neighborhood businesses, where packages are dropped for the neighborhood. Residents then  pick them up at one centralized location. This reduces the vehicle miles traveled (VMTs) involved in going from house to house to house or building to building to building for individual deliveries.

Planning & Implementing BRT in South Africa

A big assumption was that BRT would take root and work well in South Africa simply because it has been so successful across Latin America. Unfortunately, while yes, BRT has been very successful in Latin American cities, as with most things, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to transit.

Off-Hours Consumer Delivery Systems May Unlock Sustainability at Scale

There are several parts of the web where change needs to happen, and enlightened policy has the potential to facilitate change across that web. Shifting delivery times seems straightforward and simple, but moving an entire community and its supply chains to greater sustainability requires multiple interventions happening in parallel—with consumer behavior, with infrastructure, and with use of technology.