Brown Bag Lunch Lab CASE STUDIES: Southeast Ministry & Young Playwrights’ Theatre

Young Playwrights’ Theatre (YPT) 

Mission: Young Playwrights’ Theater inspires young people to  realize the power of their own voices. By teaching students to express themselves through the art of playwriting, YPT develops students’ language skills, and empowers them with the creativity, confidence and critical thinking skills they need to succeed in school and beyond. YPT honors its students by involving them in a high-quality artistic process where they feel simultaneously respected and challenged and by engaging professional theater artists in producing student plays for the community.

Challenge: “How can we be more accountable to our communities and our students?” There was a desire for productive conversations around accountability, community and justice as a primarily white, middle-class staff working with underserved students of color in Washington, DC.

Brown Bag Lunch Lab Design: “Story Circles + Accountability”: Art in Praxis believes that authentic, generative conversations about power and privilege should happen in spaces that are cultivated to support the ongoing learning and development of all participants. Given the two hour time frame of the BBLL, we sent relevant reading material in advance and facilitated a discussion featuring 3 questions we crafted based on the organizational challenge:

  1. What strategies might we embrace to authentically address race, equity, and privilege in our work?
  2. How can we leverage relationships to be more accountable to our communities and our students?
  3. How can we effectively elicit and incorporate ongoing feedback from our communities and our students?

Following that discussion, we shifted from an organizational view to personal context. We moved into a Story Circle process to explore personal connections and disconnections to “community”. Following the Story Circle we came “full circle”, connecting personal experiences to organizational perceptions through a creative brainstorm that generated original, creative ways YPT can live out the answers to the questions posed at the beginning of the lab.

Praxis & Outcome: YPT is now exploring the Story Circle process as a tool to facilitate conversations about accountability, community and justice with students, teaching artists and colleagues. YPT is planning teaching artist "auditions" at venues in the communities they host programming in. “We want to invite artists from these communities to teach with us, especially in their neighborhood schools.”

Southeast Ministry  

Mission: Southeast Ministry is a grassroots social justice ministry of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation that listens to the needs of the community and develops culturally sensitive education programs that address the root causes of social problems such as poverty, illiteracy, and violence.

Challenge: Organizational leadership wanted to ensure that all staff understood how the organizational budget serves as a bridge between resources and strategic operations at Southeast Ministry.

Brown Bag Lunch Lab Design: “Funding Our Priorities”: We designed this lab with the premise that a budget tells a story of how an organization plans to achieve it’s strategic priorities. Using a scaled-down mock budget and Southeast Ministry’s strategic priorities, we designed a game in which each staff member had an opportunity to determine how much and where funds would be allocated money for expenses.

Praxis & Outcome: Southeast Ministry is exploring creating space in the budget for an “Innovation Fund” to test ideas for a new social enterprise. They also pinned a blog post about their experience with the Brown Bag Lunch Lab titled, “Funding Our Priorities”



Over lunch with your staff or team, dive into issues of community engagement, coalition building, or program design...with creativity. The Brown Bag Lunch Lab is designed for organizations looking to maintain high functioning teams. A Graphic Recorder can be on site to create a large colorful mural translation of your conversation, live, upon request. 


  • Teams walk away with clarity, direction and shared language to move forward and go deeper, together.
  • A unique professional development opportunity.
  • An efficient team development opportunity. 

Bring the Brown Bag Lunch Lab to your office!

We also host breakfasts. Email with “BBLL” in the subject line.