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The Economic and Fiscal Benefits of Walkable and Bike-able City and Town Centers

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A great webinar hosted by Smart Growth Online, Sign up HERE!

Date and time:Friday, October 30, 2015 2:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00)

Duration:1 hour 30 minutes

Description:The webinar will feature the experiences of 8 U.S. cities in creating or increasing the walkability and bicycle-friendliness of their downtown areas. The cities profiled include small towns (Grandview, MO and West Jefferson, NC); medium-sized cities (Orlando, FL, Redmond, WA and Lancaster, CA) and large cities (the Bronx in NYC, Cleveland, OH, and Charlotte, NC). The webinar will focus on the implemented strategies, the resulting increases in walkability and bike-friendliness, and the economic and fiscal benefits of each project.

– Jim Cohen, Senior Lecturer and Director, Urban Studies and Planning Program, University of Maryland College Park (Moderator)
– Dennis Randolph, Director of Public Works, Grandview, MO
– Carolyn Hope, Park Planning, Arts and Culture Manager, Department of Parks and Recreation, Redmond, WA
– Brian Ludicke, Planning Director, Lancaster, CA
– Gustavo Castro, Project Manager, Transportation Planning Division, Orlando, FL
– Dean Ledbetter, Senior Planning Engineer, North Carolina Department of Transportation

Next Steps for Kayla Gilbert

It is wiDown To Businessth both mournfulness and excitement that I write this announcement: I have taken a new position with the City and County of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health and am concluding my work at PlaceMatters. I have sincerely enjoyed and appreciated my time here–my amazing colleagues, our inspiring partners, and our great clients.

Through three years of working with PlaceMatters, I have learned a lot about community engagement, technology, and different initiatives we believe in, such as active living, mobility, and capacity building. Having initially been hired as an Office Manager, I took on the role of office control and helping to make sure everything ran smoothly at PlaceMatters, from invoicing clients to paying health insurance. PlaceMatters has set up a work environment that makes it easy to learn new things and take on new responsibilities, and I was encouraged to pursue new ideas, such as my passion for active transportation and community events. PlaceMatters provided me with valuable training and peer support to advance toward leadership positions.

Never one to shy from a challenge, I jumped in wholeheartedly to new projects, roles, and experiences. In my time at PlaceMatters, I have had the pleasure to take part in a number of exciting projects our team has worked on. To name a few of my highlights:

– Planning community engagement and a Street Festival last summer in Yonkers, NY, to gather community input on a brownfields redevelopment site for a multi-use trail, which will help community members have better multi-modal connections through the city and to better housing, jobs, and services.

– Helping with this past January’s training on Scenario Planning and Smart Growth for Superstorm Sandy Resiliency Planning in Long Island, to help build capacity for city staff to be able to locate and use the right tools to engage communities in sustainability and resiliency planning;

-Implementing parklets and tech fairs at New Partners for Smart Growth 2013-2015, and a presentation on tactical urbanism during our Community Engagement workshop at the 2015 conference; and

-Most recently, researching for and writing additional chapters for a Best Practices for Neighborhood Improvements to the Built Environment on tactical urbanism, walkshops, and parklets.

My time at PlaceMatters has been an incredible learning experience, and I know that I will continue to apply this knowledge, as well as learn more, in my new position with the City and County of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health. The primary emphasis of my future work will be to engage a wide range of community members through an Active Living Community Coalition, conducting built environment assessments around schools and recreation centers (using WALKscope, the tool we at PlaceMatters developed with our local implementation partner WalkDenver), and other projects. I will be advocating for a Health in All Policies approach to examining systems and policy level changes to improve the health of Denver, including policies around housing, transportation, health, environmental sustainability, health and social equity, and more.

I will be starting my new position in August and am greatly looking forward to this new opportunity. I will continue to stay a part of the PlaceMatters team in spirit, and look forward to the possibility of working with PlaceMatters and our other great local partners in my future position.


This Saturday: Help shape Denver’s future at the DenverUP Scrimmage!

CBWish to help shape Denver’s future in a unique and fascinating way?

On June 6th, CityBuild and ReWork are teaming up for a full-day, immersive rapid prototyping scrimmage that will bring together Denver residents who care about making a positive impact on the Denver community (that’s you!).

The Challenges:

  • Urban Peak, which works with homeless youth, will be addressing the topic of how to better equip youth in their program for life-long employment.
  • EatDenver, which represents hundreds of independently owned local restaurants, will be exploring staffing challenges in the industry and mis-conceptions about careers in hospitality.
  • PlaceMatters will be exploring how Denver might be able to create (safe) public spaces for “unstructured play”, especially for those communities who don’t have a lot of resources at home.
  • Mile High United Way will be exploring how to make the Denver city centre more friendly and livable for families.
  • The Denver Public Library will be examining how to provide “library services” to emerging neighborhoods…but without requiring any brick-and-mortar
  • Zocalo Community Development will be addressing challenges with providing affordable housing options in Denver.
  • BikeDenver will be examining how we can create the right combination of biking, walking, car sharing, and public transport to reduce single-person vehicle commuting.
  • CityBuild will be exploring how we can engage more youthful generations in civic conversations

What’s rapid prototyping? A method used to accelerate the innovation process.

Wondering what’s in it for you? The scrimmage is a great opportunity to network with like-minded professionals, help create innovative solutions for leading organizations in the Denver community, and learn design-thinking and rapid prototyping skills that will translate to your professional life.

Wish to learn more about what prototyping looks like? Check out this 8-minute TED Talk from ReWork’s mentor Tom Chi, about building Google Glass.

When? Saturday, June 6th from 9:30am – 3:00pm

Where? Galvanize, 1062 Delaware St

Reserve your spot today! 

Just announced: Encourage a friend to join you and get a 20% discount! Just make sure to purchase your tickets together and to select the “Group” option on Eventbrite.

FREE Webinar: High-Tech High-Touch NCI Charrette Training

Join us for a free hour-long webinar to learn about the latest high tech/high touch version of this collaborative process for innovative design, taking place on April 7th at 12pm MT. Register here.

Architects and inventors have known for centuries that the most creative way to work is to immerse themselves in a problem for an uninterrupted period of time. The charrette brings specialists and stakeholders together for an uninterrupted period to break through to a creative solution. What normally takes months is accomplished in a fraction of the time.

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In this webinar we will discuss how the NCI Charrette System™ can be used to cut project timelines in half, gain broad stakeholder support and develop out-of-the-box creative solutions.


  • Bill Lennertz, Executive Director, National Charrette Institute
  • Ken Snyder, CEO, PlaceMatters



High-Tech High-Touch Planning Tools™ Certificate Training

We are happy to announce that we will be partnering with the National Charrette Institute to offer a High-Tech High-Touch Planning Tools Certificate Training this May in Washington, D.C. This training will augment NCI’s Charrette System™ Certificate Training, which teaches trainees about creating a collaborative planning process that harnesses the talents and energies of all interested parties to create and support a feasible plan.

High-Tech High-Touch Planning Tools™ Certificate Training
brought to you by PlaceMatters and the National Charrette Institute

Confused by the wide range of high-tech planning tools available? Having trouble picking the right tools for your projects? This 1.5-day training will give you a hands-on introduction to many effective high-tech tools for project research, stakeholder engagement, landscape exploration, mapping and scenario planning, idea generation and prioritization, and communication.Together, PlaceMatters and NCI will provide a working understanding high-tech tools that are synchronized with the NCI Charrette System™ to support and enhance successful public involvement efforts, helping you maximize the reach and quality of your engagement and leverage your limited engagement budget.

Washington, DC • May 7-8, 2015
$500 before 2/20/15, then $585
Register •  Flyer
**The NCI Charrette System™ Certificate Training is a prerequisite for attending this training**

NCI Charrette System™ Certificate Training

The purpose of this 3-day training is to teach you how to design the right process for your project that will result in the best solutions with broad support. Participants will gain a practical understanding of how to apply the NCI Charrette System™ to a wide range of planning projects. You will gain a working knowledge of the 13 most important NCI Charrette System™ tools and techniques. NCI experts will give you tools for building relationships and changing perceptions throughout challenging situations. You will learn how to save time and money by reducing rework through the short feedback cycle work flow, and how to use design as a conflict resolution tool to create an aligned vision and shared solutions.

Washington, DC • May 4-6, 2015
$700 before 2/20/15
Register • More Info

The National Charrette Institute (NCI) is a nonprofit educational institution building capacity for collaborative solutions. NCI teaches the NCI Charrette System for project planning, design and realization to public and private professionals and community leaders.

PlaceMatters is a Denver-based non-profit think tank for civic engagement and process in planning. Our work creates opportunities for informed, inclusive decision making in the planning of vibrant cities and communities.

Rebecca Sanborn Stone hired as Development Specialist

StoneRebecca Sanborn Stone is an independent consultant specializing in helping social and environmental change organizations build innovative programs and communicate about their work. Rebecca will contract part-time with PlaceMatters to help us with grant writing and communications. She has a diverse background in science, sustainability, and communications. Because of her work with the Orton Family Foundation, she is very familiar with the work and mission of PlaceMatters with an in-depth understanding of community engagement, planning, philanthropy, partnerships, and network building. She has written for a variety of publications including TED Books, E MagazineEngaging Cities, and Northern Woodlands

“Using Tools and Data to Inform Equity-Oriented Decision-Making” webinar on October 15

Join PlaceMatters for a webinar on Using Tools and Data to Inform Equity-Oriented Decision-Making.

Date: October 15, 2014

Time: 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm EDT


Join us to learn about three strategies for thinking about and improving equity in our regions. University of Maryland will demo OppMap, a web-based tool for community-driven opportunity mapping in the Baltimore region. Jason Reece of the Kirwan Institute will show how historical analysis brought clarity to equity discussions in Cleveland. Holly St. Clair of MAPC will share lessons learned about how tapping into empathy can help cultivate an open environment for discussing equity.

Questions? Contact Critter Thompson at PlaceMatters.

This webinar session is provided through the Sustainable Communities Learning Network. The primary audience is members of the network, but anyone who is interested may participate.


Change & Continuity

As an urban designer, I was taught the principles of good urban form that make for successful, integrative, and healthy environments. However, my education and early career offered less clarity about how cities decide what sort of places they will become. What are the decisions that need to be made, and by who, in order for us to build better cities? What information is needed to support those decisions? How do we present that information so that it matters – that it clarifies, sharpens, and leads to better decisions?

The last 3 years at PlaceMatters have allowed me to work with some wonderful people to tackle those questions. We’ve improved decision-support tools, integrated data and technology into the decision-making process, and built technical capacity for dozens of communities. We’ve helped nurture tools that communicate complex ideas, and built a few of our own.

Along the way, I’ve become increasingly convinced that we need tools and methods that do a better job of both analyzing and communicating the tradeoffs of the decisions facing cities. My time at PlaceMatters has been an enviable vantage point from which I’ve seen the tools and the practice of scenario planning shift towards that spirit of communicating, visualizing, and building understanding.

This vantage point has been ideal preparation for my next position. Starting later this month, I’ll be joining the UrbanFootprint team at Calthorpe Associates. I’ll be helping them use and build out UrbanFootprint, a web-based scenario modeling tool that’s been used extensively in California and elsewhere. It’s already a great tool, and I’m excited about contributing what I’ve learned in the last three years about how technology, analysis, and user-centered design can shape the way we build cities.  Although I’ll miss the people and work at PlaceMatters, I’ll continue to be involved in the network of folks that have been part of the PlaceMatters family.

Thank you to all the smart, kind people I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the last few years; I hope we have a chance to work together again someday soon.

Now Hiring: Development Director

PlaceMatters is seeking a dynamic and sustainably-minded person to join our team as Development Director. This person will direct and manage PlaceMatters’ fundraising activities, including generating significant foundation and corporate support, individual donations, and special events. As a small non-profit with a variety of projects, we seek employees with flexibility, enthusiasm, and a sense of humor. PlaceMatters is looking for a bright, energetic, and creative person to become our next team member. Candidates should have experience in or knowledge of community decision making and sustainability principles, and be well-organized and have good public speaking and written communication skills.

For the full job description and to apply, visit The deadline for applications has been extended to Monday, July 31st, 2014.

PlaceMatters – Development Director Announcement PDF

PlaceMatters and WalkDenver Expand Collaboration on Active Transportation

PlaceMatters and WalkDenver are pleased to announce an expanded collaborative partnership focused on walkability and other forms of active transportation in the Denver metro area.

The two organizations first began working together in 2013, when PlaceMatters launched its Active Transportation Initiative aimed at assisting communities that want to become more pedestrian, transit, and bicycle friendly.  As a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to making Denver the most walkable city in the country, WalkDenver faced a challenge common to many American communities: while planners have a wide array of tools for collecting, tracking, and analyzing data about driving, the tools and data needed to make informed decisions about more active transportation modes is sorely lacking.

Walk ID

PlaceMatters and WalkDenver therefore teamed up to develop WALKscope, an open-source tool for crowdsourcing data about walkability, with grant funding from Mile High Connects.  Community members can access the tool via smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers to report data related to sidewalks, intersections, and pedestrian counts. WalkDenver is using WALKscope to engage residents in assessing the walkability of their own neighborhoods, to educate residents about the connection between walkability and quality of life, and to advocate for infrastructure improvements.

Just a few short months after its launch, WALKscope began attracting attention from communities throughout the Denver metro area and at the national level.  The outcomes of this collaborative effort contributed to WalkDenver’s success in acquiring additional grant funding from other sources, including a major grant from Kaiser Permanente announced this May.  This in turn allowed WalkDenver to expand their capacity by hiring a full time Policy and Program Director.  Jill Locantore, who supported the development of WALKscope as Program Director for PlaceMatters, will be shifting over to WalkDenver on July 1 to fill this new position.

With WalkDenver’s transition from a primarily volunteer-driven organization to a professionally-staffed advocacy group, and with support from other local and regional partners including the Denver Regional Council of Governments, WalkDenver and PlaceMatters are gearing up to build upon their previous efforts.  Collaboration over the next several months will focus on 1) implementing key enhancements that will increase the effectiveness of the WALKscope tool, and 2) expanding the focus of community engagement and walkability assessments to current and planned FasTracks corridors, with an initial emphasis on the West Line.

Jill can be reached in her new position at or 303-895-6376.  Critter Thompson will be taking the lead on WALKscope-related projects for PlaceMatters, and can be reached at or 303-964-0903.