Pop-up Community Engagement09.26.17

Last week I gave a workshop as part of a day long session with The Community Institute, all about different facets of community engagement including a great keynote from Carolyn Lukensmeyer about civil discourse, and some of the cool programs sponsored by the Orton Family Foundation. I was super impressed with the passion and experience in the room, and understanding that community-based development is the way to go. It was so interesting, coming from the world of design and Design Thinking, to hear planners talk about using so many of the same methods – namely seeking out stories, input, ideas, and co-design from all parts of the community, not just those who usually show up to community meetings.

One area I do feel planners could benefit from, however, is investing in old-fashioned visual design and creative excellence. I understand it seems like there’s never the budget to hire a professional designer – and ideally the designer will be involved during research and concepting, *before* that last stage of making things “look pretty” – but the value they’ll create by making an initiative seem accessible, exciting, and important can literally make or break all the rest of the effort that’s gone into the project. People are too used to a professional level of production to take seriously things that seem home-made.

I also want to encourage more designers to get involved with civic work and community engagement on planning – its such a rewarding and impactful area for your skills. In the spirit of foster more collaborations between designers and planners or other community activist, here is free download of the “Community Engagement Event Planner” I made for the workshop. Enjoy, pass along to any community activators and urbanists you know, and feel free to reach out with any questions!