Here are the main points of yesterday evening’s neighborhood planning meeting. The lingering questions — feel free to leave answers in the comments below — are in bold.
The October issues/solutions workshop will be two hours in length. In those two hours, it has to fulfill four goals:
- explain to the public what exactly neighborhood planning is (in under 15 minutes)
- highlight areas of consideration such as traffic, demographics, parks, economics
- describe what our planning ideas look like so far
- elicit feedback from neighborhood residents and business owners
To that last end, the workshop will pose the following questions to participants:
- What do you like about Emerson-Garfield that should be preserved or enhanced?
- What would you like to see done differently?
- Are there things in other neighborhoods that you’d like to see in ours?
- What do you see as our neighborhood’s priorities?
The exact date of the workshop is still undecided. Should we hold the workshop on the regular planning meeting date (i.e., Wednesday, October 10) or later in the month? Put another way: What’s the optimal date for holding the October workshop?
Holding it on October 10 would likely mean combining the workshop with the Emerson-Garfield Neighborhood Council meeting. That would ensure attendance but might result in less time for the EGNC to conduct its regular business. There might also be city functions that our planning consultants have to attend instead. Holding it later in October would give us extra time to plan and announce the workshop, but it would mean asking people to reserve yet another evening for neighborhood affairs.
Once the date is decided, we will probably be able to reserve the Women and Children’s Free Restaurant as a venue. There’s ample parking there, being on Monroe it’s easy to find, and there’s plenty of open space inside.
There are pros and cons to addressing the workshop participants as a large group or breaking them up into smaller groups. Given the workshop goals and questions listed above, what is the best way to both inform participants and encourage their feedback? Handouts? Information and input stations? A giant group brainstorm session? A mix of all of them?
But even the smoothest-run workshop is of no use if no one is there. How do we spread the word and encourage public participation? We need to reach out to local churches and organizations and use a variety of media (e.g., mailings, our two websites, Twitter, Facebook) to notify residents and businesses alike. (Direct mailings via the city will cost between $1,000 and $2,000 depending on scope and quality.)
All that is easier suggested than done, which is why we will undoubtedly need volunteers to canvass the neighborhood with door flyers and/or get in touch with heads of neighborhood organizations to inform their members. Short notice and limited reach has been a problem in the past, so it’s extremely important that any notification is memorable and timely.
A copy of the board notes from the meeting is available for download here.
Oh, and there is no planning meeting in August. Stakeholders are encouraged to attend the neighborhood potluck on August 8 at Emerson Park and eat, drink, and be merry.