PlaceMatters has had a bit of a blogging dry spell, but we have a good excuse! In the last month staff members have been to:
- Little Rock, AR for the Imagine Central Arkansas kickoff, some of us twice! (more on that below)
- Erie, PA for the first round of workshops for Destination Erie, a Regional Vision
- The Capital District, NY for the Capital District Sustainability Plan forums
- Knoxville, TN for a training session from our fellow Capacity Building Intermediaries, Smart Growth America
- Here in Denver for an Institute for Sustainable Communities Leadership Academy for HUD SCI Grantees
- San Francisco for Code for America’s Summit gathering
- Austin, TX for a panel at South by Southwest Eco
- New River Valley to work with the New River Valley Livability Initiative
We’ve been working hard, listening to our partners challenges and successes, and supporting some great events. More info on some of these trips will be forthcoming on our blog. I will start things off with some highlights from our first trip, where we helped implement Metroplan‘s (Central AR’s MPO) Imagine Central Arkansas kickoff event.
The kickoff was held in a pavilion at the River Market in Little Rock. Over 200 people enjoyed the local band, popcorn machine, and fantastic fall weather. They also were able to provide initial input via several interactive stations:
- An “I Imagine Central Arkansas” station where people could fill in a white-board with their vision for the future of the region and have photos taken with their boards (Metroplan has collected quite a few of these, check them out here).
- A station for kids where they could draw their favorite places (some in great detail!) and/or build their vision for the future with Lego blocks and paper streets (I got to work at this station and enjoyed every conversation I had with all the young people who came through–not surprisingly, the pool is a popular place, but they also loved the Big Dam Bridge and other regional destinations).
- Treasured Places Station had a (PlaceMatters’ DIY) touch-table that showed a map where people could place virtual “pins” highlighting places in the region they particularly value and “like” places that others have identified (this map and the Know Your Region quiz was set up by our friend Chris Haller at Urban Interactive Studio, who has done the project website)
- A “Your Story” Station where we video-taped short statements about what people love about Central Arkansas
- Know Your Region, a quiz for people to see how much they know about Central Arkansas.
- A Participation Station where people could learn about how to participate in the process and scan QR codes using their smartphones to see more info on the project website.
PlaceMatters also set up live streaming for anyone who wanted to join the fun, but couldn’t come in person. We also had students from each class at the nearby eStem Charter School join us, and we loved seeing them interact with the technology and provide their ideas.
The following week, Brad Barnett, our Planning Analyst, was back in the region, helping use the touch-tables again for a round of “Hometown Visits” around the region. Along with Metroplan and Gresham, Smith & Partners, Brad helped provide opportunities for participation (similar to the kickoff) in places around the region, part of an ongoing strategy to reach people where they are in their day-to-day lives.
We feel that the model for the kickoff and round of local meetings was a good one, particularly with the level of interaction that both provided. We almost never want people to spend their valuable time at a meeting where they aren’t providing feedback and input. We’ll be pointing our partners and communities interested in a great model kickoff event to the Central Arkansas example. The hometown visits were also a good idea, and could be very successful in similar projects if the right locations are chosen where there is a lot of foot traffic.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for additional posts about our current project work and our thoughts about what is working well and lessons learned.