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Make It Fun

Best Practice Category

Complete Neighborhoods Affordable Housing

Description

Go beyond the traditional community outreach methods, such as public workshops and open hoses, to engage stakeholders in fun ways. Using action-oriented meetings, pilots, and in-the-field outreach makes it easier for people to digest dense planning topics, but also allows you to revise, test, and fix ideas during the outreach process much more quickly. It also casts a wider net for outreach thus enabling a greater number of citizens to participate.  Non-traditional outreach ideas are sometimes referred to as “creative placemaking” and span a range of short and medium-term techniques. Examples relating to transit-supportive planning could include:

  • Popping-up First and Last Mile enhancements near a transit station, such as a temporary bike lane, a traffic circle or other traffic calming, sidewalk art, trees in planters, and the like, to show how the area could be improved for transit riders.
  • Holding a workshop with refreshments and music in a vacant storefront near a transit stop to show how pleasant activating the space can be.
  • Holding performances and community events at transit stations or plazas while hosting an open-house format workshop, to engage the community surrounding planning, while making it fun.
  • Transform a parking zone into a parklet or temporary sidewalk extension or add in a temporary crosswalk near a transit station, while getting survey feedback from passersby regarding their attitude toward the potential improvements.

The key for tactical urbanism and other forms of “creative” outreach are ways to reach greater numbers of people while keeping costs down.  Planning and hosting an event can be costly and time consuming, but tactical urbanism stresses low-cost elements, often put together with donated materials, objects available at the City-yards, or other low cost items, such as tape, spray chalk, cones, or hay bales. Community assistance is often critical for tactical urbanism projects; groups donate their time or products to help planners pull off the event or installation.

Examples

  • City of Santa Monica MANGo : City of Santa Monica’s Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGo). The City of Santa Monica worked with consultants to design a “tactical” installation in the street, which tested out potential Greenway improvements along Michigan Avenue for a half day. The installation was coupled with a street festival with outdoor music, free food for those who participated, biking tours, arts and community activities. While not explicitly Transit-related, the lessons applied from this project apply to transit projects as well. Getting people to see, feel, and experience potential improvements helps move the project forward.  Over 400 people participated in the workshop and the initially-contentious project was in the end, widely accepted by the community and unanimously approved by City Council.  The first phase of the Greenway was constructed, as tested with small modifications just a year or so after the temporary installation pilot.
  • City of Glendale Wayfinding Program : City of Glendale’s temporary wayfinding program.  The City of Glendale worked with consultants to install a temporary wayfinding signage program throughout the City, which was linked to the Glendale Pedestrian Plan process.  The large eye-catching temporary signs gave fun facts about walking and the pedestrian environment in Glendale, while also providing the project hashtag and link to survey and project details.  Because the signs were placed in diverse locations throughout the City, the visibility of the pedestrian planning effort was elevated and more people were encouraged to participate.
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