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Downers Grove

Downers Grove native hopes next travels are cross-country

DOWNERS GROVE – Downers Grove 28-year-old Meghan Lazier has lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, for a year and worked from a cruise liner for a month, among other travels. She hopes her next adventure will give her a closer look at the U.S.’s 50 states.

She has applied for the Millennial Trains Project, a cross-country train ride for the current generation to explore how to make an impact across the United States.

It will depart from San Francisco in August and stop in 10 cities, including Chicago, before ending on the East Coast.

To be accepted on the trip, each young person had to conceive a project they would share with each community the locomotive stops at across the country. Lazier and her project were accepted by the Millennial Trains Project, but she has to raise $5,000 for the organization to take the trip.

“I’m really interested in connecting to other people in my generation who are interested in activism and in change and have that belief of serving their communities,” she said. “And also, because I’ve spent a lot of my 20s traveling, I’ve been able to see a lot of the world. But a lot of places that the train goes, I haven’t necessarily been to.”

Lazier’s project, named Design + US, will deliver design thinking workshops for community organizations to learn new tools and approaches to tackle local programs.

Lazier said she thinks the design thinking techniques that have helped Apple, Target and Tesla succeed also can be applied to community organizations to make them more efficient and innovative.

“The traditional models of analyzing a problem are looking at a cost analysis of something, and looking at something in black and white, very business terms,” she said. “Design thinking starts with empathy for the user.

“I think that has a lot of transformative power,” she said. “In every town, what I will do is host a workshop. Using key studies examples, how design thinking has worked in different companies, different communities. To teach a skillset that can be used long after the project is over.”

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