Urban Fold

The Right Mix of Skills is Key to Effective Community Design

According to Arianna McBride, the recipe for good community design must effectively balance community wisdom with expert knowledge. She shares three ways that planners can facilitate the type of participation that leads to great places.

Balancing community input with the expert knowledge of designers and planners is the key challenge in developing effective outreach strategies and creating projects of lasting value.

"Too often community projects favor one of these approaches over the other; the design team who drops in for a week with the solution to a town’s traffic woes (i.e. roundabout) or the community workshop that recycles the same, old idea for its downtown’s redevelopment (i.e. more parking)," says McBride. "So, how do we move off of this dynamic towards a more effective model? By recognizing the best of what both sides bring to the equation and designing a process that leverages both strengths."

"At the Orton Family Foundation we use an approach called Heart & Soul Community Planning, which strives to put community wisdom first in projects and uses design and planning professionals to help make the most of this valuable asset." McBride discusses three key tactics that help facilitate this process:

  1. Listen First.
  2. Ask powerful questions.
  3. Create feedback loops.

Full Story: Community Wisdom + Expert Knowledge = Good Community Design

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