Arlington County has been trying to figure out how to better reach out to the hordes of young apartment-dwellers who make up a significant portion of the county’s population, but who are usually nowhere to be found during community meetings.
“It’s not always easy to reach certain parts of the community,” Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh says in a new county-produced video (above). “We’ve tried several methods over the years — community meetings in schools, in community centers — and typically the same people would come out each time. So what we decided we needed to do was try something different.”
To help design events and services tailored to the elusive mid-20s to mid-30s professional set — dubbed “Metro Renters” — county staff is taking an approach called “Design Thinking,” which builds a needs profile through interviews with members of a given group.
“Design Thinking is a system of methods and processes that uses a designer’s sensibility to match people’s needs with what is feasible and viable,” explains Dept. of Environmental Services program manager Joan Kelsch.
Via interviews, the county developed the following profile of “Metro Renters.”
- They want their resources to be quick and convenient and are willing to pay top dollar if it fulfills their needs in a hurry
- They’re tech savvy and they can’t function without their mobile devices
- They’re highly educated with varied reading interests
- They listen to NPR on weekday mornings and track the news online all day
- They work hard and play hard
- Hanging out with friends is important
- They like good food
- Many don’t have cars so location is important
- They enjoy a quiet, relaxing environment for conversation with a friend
- Many are also interested in meeting potential life partners, so activities and places that give them something to do where they can meet new people with common interests are good
- They consider themselves hard working and busy people without a lot of free time, so anything they attend should have an immediate impact on their lives or otherwise be important to them
If you have first-hand familiarity with the “Metro Renter” set, how would you grade the county’s job of producing a broadly accurate profile of the average 25-35 year old Metro corridor renter in Arlington?