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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



What makes West Colfax so wicked for pedestrians? WALKscope data provides insight.

Famously dubbed “the longest, wickedest street in America,” Denver’s Colfax Avenue offers a myriad of diverse destinations ranging from bars and restaurants to elementary schools to major employment centers to steam baths. The public buses that traverse Colfax are among the most used in Denver’s entire transit system, with the highest boardings per hour and lowest subsidies per boarding. Outside of downtown, Colfax may be the busiest pedestrian corridor in the city.  And yet, as anyone who has spent time on the Avenue can attest, Colfax can be an unpleasant and sometimes even unsafe place to walk.  A new report from WalkDenver and partners highlights some of the factors that make Colfax, specifically West Colfax, so wicked for pedestrians.

Many intersections along West Colfax, such as this one at Vrain Street, have no crosswalk or traffic lights, requiring pedestrians to walk several blocks out of their way to cross the street safely. Photo source:

In the summer and fall of 2014, WalkDenver, PlaceMatters, the West Colfax Business Improvement District, and Ken Schroeppel’s Planning Methods class at the University of Colorado, Denver, College of Architecture and Planning partnered to audit the pedestrian environment along the West Colfax corridor. Trained neighborhood volunteers and planning students used the WALKscope mobile tool to collect data about sidewalks, intersections, and pedestrian counts throughout the area roughly bounded by Sheridan Boulevard to the west, Zuni Street to the east, 19th Avenue to the north, and 10th Avenue to the south.  A total of 1,532 data points were collected: 1,062 sidewalks, 425 intersections, and 45 pedestrian counts. Major findings of this assessment include the following:

  • The places where the most people walk, including Colfax Avenue and the areas adjacent to light rail stations, are the least pleasant and the least safe for pedestrians.
  • Unsafe traffic speeds are a major problem on Colfax.
  • Crossing distance is also a problem on Colfax. Pedestrians must cross 5 or more lanes to get across Colfax at pretty much every intersection.
  • Crosswalks are few and far between on Colfax, where they are needed most. In many cases, people have to walk several blocks out of their way to cross at an intersection with crosswalks.
  • The lack of buffers between sidewalks and the street degrades the pedestrian environment.  With few exceptions, the sidewalks along Colfax are all “attached,” meaning they are directly adjacent to the street with no buffer.

Click the infographic above for more details, or view the full report here. PlaceMatters and WalkDenver is continuing to work with the West Colfax BID and surrounding neighborhoods to identify potential interventions along the corridor that would improve the pedestrian environment, and we hope to demonstrate some of these design concepts with temporary installations.

This blog post was cross-posted with permission from WalkDenver. View its original posting here.


Training on Scenario Planning and Smart Growth for Superstorm Sandy Recovery on Long Island

In January of 2015, Placeways, PlaceMatters, and CH2M HILL developed a training on Scenario Planning and Smart Growth for Superstorm Sandy Recovery on Long Island. This effort was made possible through a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) managed task order funded by an interagency agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The training was a five-day workshop for over 20 attendees from local agencies in the region, with information and hands-on training on high-tech engagement tools, low-tech/on-the-ground engagement techniques, scenario planning, CommunityViz, and other tools to use for recovery planning.

Since Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the New York-New Jersey region in October 2012, the need for better knowledge about using scenario planning tools for hazard mitigation and disaster recovery planning within the region has become apparent. This five-day training on Long Island introduced participants to integrating various tools within the recovery planning process – including tools to support scenario planning, help increase engagement and provide critical analysis and communication of complex issues. The training also helped to build local capacity on strategies to incorporate scenario planning with public engagement, smart growth concepts, equitable development issues, and hazard mitigation.

The first full day of the five-day training brought together 30 participants for presentations and demonstrations of how to incorporate both high-tech and low-tech tools – including scenario planning – into the planning process. This first day was designed to include a broader group of stakeholders than would attend for the remainder of the training and therefore included a general overview of scenario planning and other tools to help provide some context and guidance on ways to inform the recovery planning process.

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Over the next four days, a subset of the participants spent a significant amount of time learning about and using tools to support recovery planning and resiliency. The first two days were spent in hands-on training using CommunityViz – a powerful, GIS-based scenario planning tool – and various models and data sources that can integrate with CommunityViz to help inform recovery planning. These included FEMA’s Hazus-MH, EPA’s EJ Screen, and NOAA’s Digital Coast. During the final two days, the group split into teams to build on the skills gained during the hands on training. These teams worked together to define projects that interested them and used the tools presented during the first three days to perform an actual analysis. At the end of the final day, the four teams presented their projects to the rest of the class and to over a dozen local and regional agency officials attending via screencast. These presentations can be viewed below or here.

The projects included:

  • Coastal Re-Development – Making the Case for Evolution in Suburban Zoning,
  • CommunityViz and FEMA’s Environmental Benefits Calculator for Evaluating Open Space
    Restoration and Property Acquisition,
  • Identifying Suitable Locations for Secondary Sewage Treatment Plant, and
  • Elevating Structures in Barnum Island/Harbor Isle/Island Park.

As communities work to create more robust and informed resiliency plans, it is often difficult to determine which tools and techniques to use. This includes trying to determine the best way to integrate these tools and techniques to maximize public engagement, increase local capacity, and encourage long-term resilience. As part of this training, attendees were introduced to a number of important tools and resources to help inform this process – including an introduction on how best to maximize the use of particular tools during the planning process. Available for download below is the full final report on this training, including a list of many of the tools and techniques presented to the attendees during the training, along with links and information to support successful implementation of these tools.

Download Final Report: Scenario Planning & Smart Growth for Superstorm Sandy Recovery


Curbee Your Enthusiasm

PlaceMatters has a virtual water-cooler for employees to post interesting ideas and articles we want to share internally–things we could imagine discussing at the water cooler if we had a water cooler. One of the most frequently discussed themes is biking and bikability in cities. We have had long threaded discussion topics including bike safety, helmets, and bike infrastructure design. Recently, I was sent a link to a CityLab article about a curbside device called the Curbee, designed to make it easier for bicyclists to rest while stopped at an intersection. I was totally unimpressed.

Photo: Steve Vance (from Street blog)

Photo: Steve Vance (from CityLab article linked above)

Not including installation, the cost range was between $600 and $1200. I can think of a number of other things I would like that money spent on–like design elements on streets created to slow down cars and give bikers equal, if not priority, standing in the car-bike hierarchy. If Denver is going to keep painting sharrows on many of the roads, I would spend money on education/outreach to teach people about the etiquette of sharrows long before I would dedicate money for Curbees.

Not because I am a big sharrow advocate (I’m not) but if we are going to have sharrows, we need an information campaign so more people know how they should behave (both in a car and on a bike) when on a road with sharrows.

SharrowI did several searches on sharrows, etiquette, safety, and rules and found more postings indicating confusion on how to behave as a driver of a motorized vehicle and as a bicyclists than clear instructions on proper use. Wikipedia was one of the better links I looked at with a description of the city planner’s intensions behind the use of sharrows.

Sharrows are used to: assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in a shared lane with on-street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a bicyclist’s impacting the open door of a parked vehicle; assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane; alert motorists of the lateral location bicyclists are likely to occupy within the traveled way; encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists; and reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.

Other sites emphasized that under Vehicle and Traffic Law, a bicyclist is permitted to use the travel lane on a street to commute just the same as a motor vehicle and that sharrow bike markings indicate to a motorist and a bicyclist that the roadways has a shared travel lane.

I learned some credit goes to Denver for first instituting the use of icons to delineate shared roads. In our 1993 Bicycle Master Plan, James Mackay, the Master Plan’s Project Manager, describes its adoption as more of a compromise than a preferred best practice.

The City of Denver’s unwillingness to commit to bike lane markings meant that shared lane markings were the only pavement marking treatment for bicyclists that the City would implement. The hollow arrow surrounding the bicyclist was intended to reinforce the correct direction of travel for bicyclists (who were frequently observed riding the wrong-way, against traffic, in Denver).

Credit for the now more commonly used chevron over a bicyclist design (the sharrow) goes to San Francisco. This quote from Mackay reinforces my criticism of sharrows as a planner’s solution that while perhaps well intentioned does not fully address what’s needed. In fact, the trend of painting sharrows on many of the roads in Denver with little information on how to behave as drivers and bicyclists on roads with sharrows dilutes their utility. The same Wikipedia article cites studies researching different changes for bicyclists and which ones seem to make the most difference in decreasing the number of accidents and the severity of injuries. Evidence behind sharrows are inconclusive, if not negative. I found this cited study particularly helpful:

Despite the differing variables important in the two analyses, there are consistent patterns: features that separate cyclists from motor vehicles and pedestrians (cycle tracks, local streets, traffic diverters) and lower speeds (motor vehicle speeds less than 30 km/h, level grades) were associated with significantly lower injury risk to cyclists. These features are incorporated into transportation design in northern European countries with high cycling modal shares and low injury risk, and have been shown to encourage cycling in North America. Important additional evidence from this study includes the importance of obstacles in [improving] safety (traffic circles, streetcar or train tracks, construction). Transportation planners and engineers in many North American cities are interested in promoting cycling and will benefit from the accumulating evidence about the value of building environments sensitive to cyclists.

Portland bike enthusiasts have created blog sites on different bike lane designs. Delineated lanes with flexible barriers are described in great detail on this site, something that has been deployed in Denver on 15th Street, yet with mixed results in many user opinions.

If I had a say in where to invest money, I would love to see one intersection designed with a protected intersections for bicyclists (also described as Dutch Junction Design).

This seems like a brilliant way to delineate bike, ped, and vehicle traffic. Fortunately there is growing interest in designing bike lanes that dramatically improve safety for the bicyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles.

In November, the Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) launched the city’s biggest crowdfunding campaign to date for civic infrastructure with a pitch to raise $35,000 of the $155,000 needed to build a protected bike lane on Arapahoe Street. The first $120,000 was raised with donations from the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District and the Gates Family Foundation. PlaceMatters donated the final 1% needed to reach the campaign’s goal. The DDP has organized a task force to improve bikeability downtown, with the crowdfunded lane on Arapahoe the first of four priorities. The other priorities include devising a better bicycle parking plan; establishing a “Mile High Loop” that connects downtown with nearby attractions; and making the annual “Bike to Work Day” a monthly or even weekly event.

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.

First + Final Mile Connectivity and Equitable Access in Transportation

Current trends in Denver and nationwide show that people are driving less and walking and biking more. They also show that Colorado is rapidly densifying as more people move to urban areas to live, work, and play. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., Denver’s population is increasing especially in the millennial age range, and with over 60% of Downtown Denver employees using transit, bike, walk, or share the ride to work, this creates enormous pressure on our infrastructure and on our neighborhoods to plan for and implement successful transit oriented development (TOD) projects to be able to move more people more efficiently.

In 2014, The City of Denver released its TOD Strategic Plan to specifically address TOD within the Denver region, identifying six core strategies critical to creating communities that are walkable, livable places and provide citizens with access to most of their daily needs. Of these strategies, the City specifically highlights the importance of first and final mile connections, noting that successful implementation of first and final mile considerations increases “the reach of a station into the community,” and improves “resident and business access to the rest of the RTD passenger rail system and the regional economy.” The plan continues by stressing the importance of removing barriers to transit-oriented development and improving multi-modal first and last mile connections around rail stations. Doing so can help “fill in the missing urban fabric between Denver’s new rail transit system, established neighborhoods, and emerging areas.”

For transit users, the hardest part of using transit isn’t actually the buses themselves. It’s everything between home and transit, transit and destination. For example, a few weeks ago, I was staying in a different part of Denver housesitting for a week. I normally bike to work, but was further away and it would have more than doubled my commute from just over 2.5 miles, along the lovely Cherry Creek Trail, to over 5 miles, the additional miles being mostly on street (with a bike lane), or just over 6 miles on trails. Always eager to experience different transportation modes around Denver, I instead opted to take the light rail, which was conveniently located only ½ a mile away from I was staying. Looking up directions on how to get to the I-25 and Broadway station safely by bike, I was surprised to find that there was no good way to get there on bike, other than riding on Broadway, a major seven-lane boulevard underneath the I-25 highway overpass (which I’d have to make a left turn at), or its narrow attached sidewalk, covered in potholes, cracks, obstructions, and even some broken glass, for at least a block.

FFM picture - Broadway I25

This section at Broadway is in no way welcoming to cyclists, so I decided to use the sidewalk. Carefully avoiding the obstacles, I eventually crossed Broadway safely, getting back onto the street which turns into the light rail station, and was abruptly cut off by a car—note that there is only one wide driving lane and no bike lane on this road–finally cruising into the light rail station with barely time to spare to catch the next train.

So what’s the big deal? I made it to the light rail, and it was only a little inconvenient, right? But that’s just me, the kind of person that relishes taking public transportation and biking. But what about the person without a smartphone, unable to look up the best route to get across a busy street? What about a mother with a stroller and young children trying to navigate the potholed narrow sidewalk along a busy street? What about the fact that I had to do it all again, in reverse, that night when I came home, in the dark? Would you just decide, with all these questions flying around in your head, that you would probably just drive instead?

These are the barriers to first and final access that drastically affect how and how often people use public transit. First and final mile planning looks at the infrastructure and environment around transit, making it safer and easier for riders to get to transit stops. The first and final mile can include any range of transportation modes: walking, biking, skating, scooter, taxi, carpool, other transit, etc, but walking is the most frequent first and final mile mode, just as in most major metro areas; in LA, more than 80% of Metro trips begin by walking to transit (Streetsblog LA, per Metro survey). With investment in first and final connectivity, transit can be more accessible to a larger and more diverse population, serving to increase ridership; encourage healthier and more sustainable modes; and also make areas around transit stops more active, safe, and economically thriving.

There are many different projects to improve first and final mile connectivity. Road diets and other various improvements to pedestrian infrastructure can go a long way toward creating a safer and more enjoyable walking commute to transit. RTD has added art to transit facilities along the West Rail Line to make the transit experience a bit more pleasurable for waiting riders. Even ideas such as updating bus signage and wayfinding signs, or making alleyways safer and more artistic, or just adding more facilities for transit users, can make a significant impact on first and final mile connectivity.

Despite the importance of understanding these first and final mile connections, there is currently little to no data in the region to inform and support these ideas, resulting in them being overlooked in transportation infrastructure planning. Last year, PlaceMatters took the first step toward addressing first and final mile considerations when we received a grant from Mile High Connects, in partnership with WalkDenver, to develop a crowdsourcing data collection tool called WALKscope. This innovative tool allows users to collect data related to sidewalks, intersections, and pedestrian counts. The crowdsourced data makes a significant leap toward addressing one of the key data gaps in first and final mile connectivity by identifying barriers and helping build the case for improvements. In less than a year, we have collected over 4,000 surveys that document the quality of pedestrian infrastructure in the greater Denver region. The WALKscope tool complements the WalkDenver pedestrian audit and the PlaceMatters Walkshop – an interactive program we have offered in four communities and deployed to more than a dozen organizations. Walkshops take people out on the streets to investigate and imagine potential changes in the built environment that would help support inclusive, affordable, and vibrant communities and connections to multi-modal transportation. We have found that the combination of an in-person event and an innovative tool is a highly effective way to engage residents in conversations about urban design, access, mobility, affordability, community assets, and economic health. These conversations have led, in turn, to data-driven recommendations for mobility and infrastructure improvements.

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As our region continues to invest in the expansion of our regional transit network (with Union Station, FasTracks, BRT, and more), we must pay attention to the transit system’s condition and the overall experience of residents using it—from start to finish. How are people getting to and from the transit network? What is their experience walking or biking to the train station or bus stop? What is the overall experience using the existing transit system? Are there barriers to access or safety that discourage or limit the use of low-income, disabled, or other typically underserved populations? Thanks to the WALKscope tool, we are becoming more informed about the pedestrian experience, but we still lack critical information on other key measures of first and final mile connections, such as biking, bus stops and stations’ quality, and transit experience. We aim to address some of these gaps by expanding on the WALKscope tool and adding BIKEscope, TRANSITscope, and STATIONscope tools to our toolkit. This additional data will be key in identifying potential solutions for more equitable transit access, as well as building awareness and a larger movement around first and final mile access issues.

We are currently undergoing major developments of this first and final mile toolkit and pursuing grants and partners to help us with this mission. A new version of WALKscope will be available by early 2015, followed by the full First + Final Mile Toolkit, and the application used to collect data will be made available as an open-source project for communities interested in using the First and Final Mile Connection Toolkit. Stay tuned to our blog for upcoming news or contact Kayla or Critter [at]

Resiliency planning in Lyons, CO

Lyons Generic 2Flooding in September of 2013 devastated Lyons, CO, causing substantial damage to almost 200 homes in the confluence and neighborhoods near the North and South St. Vrain Rivers. This has caused many of these locations to be no longer eligible for development. In a town with very little available and suitable land for development already, the challenge of where to rebuild housing in order to bring back displaced residents and restore community assets is a huge and challenging undertaking. On October 27, 2014, the Town of Lyons Board of Trustees awarded Trestle Strategy Group the work for the Lyons Housing Site Analysis Study and the Lyons Facilities Siting Plan/Municipal Campus Feasibility Study. Both studies will be a trusted source of information for the community to help build a coalition of support, and guide the Town to the best options for the community as a whole.

Through a grant from HUD and EPA’s Sustainable Communities Initiative, PlaceMatters is coordinating efforts between the Town of Lyons, Trestle, DRCOG, CU Denver, and DOLA, and working to facilitate community discussions linked to the Town’s recovery plan and implementation. A lot has happened in a short amount of time, and keeping track of progress, including events and who is involved, can be a challenge with the immense amount of activity that goes with disaster recovery.

PlaceMatters provided support during the Halloween Spooktacular festivities on October 25, 2014 by hosting a booth with flood recovery information. The booth also had the now familiar yellow ribbons for residents. The ribbons represent the still displaced residents. Community members could also sign up to receive the Lyons Recovery Action Plan – a visual tour of the effects of the flood, and each commissions’ strategy towards recovery – and books from local students with stories from the flood.

Along with Trestle, we are also helping the Town build a website and social media page so that anyone can easily find useful information about the amount of work that Lyons has done since the flood, what is currently being done, and key decisions that will be to be made in the near future. To do so, an interactive timeline (to be built built on the Tiki-Toki platform) on the Town’s webpage will link to resources and help residents see the amazing amount of background work that has been done around these challenges.

The timeline will provide a visually engaging way to explore past, current and future efforts, milestones, and opportunities for involvement and input. It will include videos, audio, images, text and links to information. Most importantly, it will bring together all of the pieces of recovery to one location to easily navigate. We are hoping the timeline will be on Lyons’ website by next week.

In addition, many people from the community have worked hard during the last year to get Lyons’ residents to tell their flood stories; we are working with those community members to gather and publish the stories they collected on a common platform. Hopefully this platform will bring recognition to their outreach efforts and continue building the community’s unique identity.

Yonkers, NY: Street Festival to Gather Public Input on Brownfields Redevelopment

In the 1940s, Southwest Yonkers had a train called the Putnam Line, which traveled between Van Cortland Park and Getty Square. However, after World War II, the line was abandoned by New York Central in 1944 after a series of legal challenges by the city (Source: WCBJ). Though the rail tracks were pulled up, the right of way still remains for the long-abandoned three-mile branch line. We are now looking at different options for this corridor and how improvements can benefit the neighborhood.

Groundwork Hudson Valley was awarded a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency as part of EPA’s Brownfields Redevelopment Program to clean up and reuse former industrial sites. Groundwork has formed a steering committee in Yonkers made up of local non-profits, churches, the Municipal Housing Authority,  governmental agencies, and other project stakeholders to gather public input and identify ways in which a multi-use trail and improvements to adjacent streets could better serve the needs of the community. The path will provide a direct link to the subway and access to jobs in New York City, helping revitalize the community.

Through our grant with HUD-EPA Sustainable Communities Initiative, we were able to provide support for Groundwork Hudson Valley and the team to organize a public neighborhood Street Festival this summer on Lawrence Street, a major corridor in Yonkers, NY. The Street Festival served to demonstrate the potential of the neighborhood and to solicit public input to identify wants and needs of the community.

Along with Alta Planning + Design, we were able to demonstrate some great complete streets features in the neighborhood with street calming elements. We taped down a pop-up designated bike lane with parallel parking between the bike lane and the street, serving as a barrier to protect cyclists from car traffic. This allowed kids to ride down the street without fear of being too close to moving cars. Once we began taping down the bike lane and crosswalks, traffic on the street instantly slowed. It was great to see how quick and easy traffic calming elements really made a difference for Lawrence Street; it completely changed the street experience in less than an hour–from cars whizzing down the hill, to kids and families playing in the street. The team also recruited several local businesses and stakeholders to come “open shop” and help residents imagine new businesses and a more active streetscape with food trucks, activities for kids, music, and seating areas.


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We also collected public input from the neighborhood during the street festival. We invited participants to give feedback through:

  1. An 11-question multiple-choice/open-ended paper survey, which asked participants about their vision, barriers, and transportation mode in the Lawrence Area Neighborhood; and
  2. A visual preference survey dot exercise, that asked participants to rate 4 examples in each of the following seven category of Retail, Mixed-Use, Single-Family Residential, Multi-Family Residential, Parks & Public Spaces, Sidewalks & Trails, and Youth Activities.

We also made a version of the survey available online and through an SMS-based (mobile text messaging) survey platform called Textizen, to give residents several ways to give us feedback. With translation assistance from Groundwork’s youth team, we were also able to provide a Spanish-translated survey (approximately 11% of the surveys were administered in Spanish).

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After the July 31st charrette, PlaceMatters prepared a full report on findings for the team, which is available here. Some key findings included the identification of a priority vision to be “Cleaner” and “More Active,” and that crime and safety is a major barrier for the community. Additionally, there is a want for more cycling, bus, and Metro-North (train) access in the community, and a large majority of respondents indicated that they would use a multi-use trail. Residents are excited about improvements to their community, and seemed to be very supportive of any type of development that was an improvement to existing conditions, rather than being picky about specific styles. There was a high priority for public space improvements, including activities for families and youth, trails, and parks.

PlaceMatters is still providing minimal assistance as Groundwork Hudson Valley moves forward in the process of creating a multi-use trail. To learn more, visit the project website here. If you or someone you know lives in the area and would like to get more involved in the public process, please contact Curt at Groundwork Hudson Valley. Check out below for even more pictures!
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Webinar Materials: “Using Tools And Data to Inform Equity-Oriented Decision-Making”

Webinar Description

On October 15, 2014, PlaceMatters facilitated a webinar on “Using Tools and Data to Inform Equity-Oriented Decision-Making”. Participants were able to learn about three strategies for thinking about and improving equity in our regions. University of Maryland demoed OppMap, a web-based tool for community-driven opportunity mapping in the Baltimore region. The Kirwan Institute showed how historical analysis brought clarity to equity discussions in Cleveland. MAPC shared lessons learned about how tapping into empathy can help cultivate an open environment for discussing equity.



  • Critter Thompson, Program Director, PlaceMatters (webinar facilitator)
  • Gerrit J. Knaap, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning & Executive Director, National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, University of Maryland
  • Holly St. Clair, Director of Data Services, Metropolitan Area Planning Council
  • Jason Reece, Director of Research, The Kirwan Institute for the study of Race & Ethnicity, The Ohio State University




Additional Links:

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