Doris Dupuy on Innovation as Old, Now, and New

Resonance Network: Tell us about your innovation idea/project.

Doris Dupuy: At Resonance Network’s Workshopping the Worldview gathering, I participated in a group discussion about what we would like to include in our new worldview, and I thought about my health and well-being. I started to think about all the ways my mother supported my health with natural medicine. I don’t think I had steady health insurance as a child. The more I thought about health and wellness I began to wonder what would happen if I could become less dependent on manufactured medicine and revert back to using traditional herbs, plants, and teas for well-being. As I thought about how I would capture all this information, it dawned on me that many of the folks I would rely on

for the information I needed didn’t speak English well or at all, and my native language, Kreyol, was slowly diminishing from my vocabulary since I don’t speak that often anymore (living in DC). So, I decided to include a language aspect to the project by making sure everything I did was also translated into Kreyol so the information was accessible and useful to English speakers as well as Kreyol speakers.   

RN: You’ve mentioned before the idea of “innovation” not being a new thing, that it’s “part old, part now, part new.”  Can you explain more what you mean?

DD: When we look at the products we use today, they are constantly evolving. If they didn’t, we would not have things like seatbelts in cars, flatscreen monitors, protective basketball shoes (instead of flat Converses), dishwashers that use less water than sink-washing, soy candles, Spotify, and on and on. As we continue to create, we have to look at the purpose and need for what we’re creating. Did it or does it already exist in some form, and how can we change it so that it does more or work better? All that is innovation.

So, my idea for the Innovation Lab is not new. As I talk to people, I’m learning about their traditions around health, healing, and wellness. Traditional medicines and teas are always part of this. My contribution is to help move the conversation and add some support for native Kreyol speakers. It’s just recently that the Kreyol language gained a written alphabet. It’s a phonetic language, so I never learned to read or write in Kreyol. Because I speak it, I can read and write it. And although my writing may differ from someone else’s, I can still understand it.

RN: What was the process of innovation like for you?

DD: I began by rushing in. But as I worked, more questions and ideas were cropping up. It’s been very slow, but that’s because I realized that it takes time to do what I really want to do and to capture the information responsibly (asking permission of others). And by slowing down, I’ve started to make some really good connections with like-minded people doing similar work. I’d like to weave in their work with mine, which would give us all a platform to share our ideas.

RN: Can you share what it meant for your project to experiment in the context of Resonance Network/the Innovation Lab?
The Innovation Lab was very important to my project. I was able to spend valuable time learning, sharing, prototyping, and receiving useful feedback for my project. The in-person gathering was the most useful because I could ask questions and receive information from many different people and points of view. It also helped to see other people’s process as they struggled along with me. It made me feel better that I didn’t have all the answers right away – because none of us did – and that is important to not only know, but to see as well. The most challenging part for me was stopping to let the process unfold. I was ready to start working on the project right away, but realized as I was going through it that I needed to be open to new ideas and information along the way as they would help to enrich my project.

RN: Innovation is often talked about in terms of success and failure, which can be intimidating at times. How did you reconcile these concepts, if at all?

DD: When I think of innovation I think of a process and not a product. Going through the process of creating or enhancing something adds value and can never be seen as a failure.

What we may fail at is the actual product — when we don’t create equitably, fairly, justly, kindly and for the betterment of everyone (not just one).

RN: What did the prototyping process look like for you?

DD: I tend to have a hard time with sticking to frameworks. Prototyping helped me to think differently about what I was trying to do and helped me to understand that my “product” would need to keep evolving to stay relevant. For me, this means that it ceases to be my project and becomes a resource for people to use and add to. So if that was the purpose of the framework, then it worked out great.

In addition to participating in the 2018 cohort of Resonance Innovators, Doris supports the finance and administration functions of Resonance Network. She has devoted the past 14 years to early childhood, homelessness and teacher education issues.