Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Facilitating Transformative Community Change

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Facilitating Transformative Community Change

Article excerpt

What's more fun: a trip to the dentist, or a public hearing on a mixed-use infill project?

How many times have you been in a meeting where a well-intentioned developer is trying to present a model project, only to be overrun at the last minute by a well-organized group of NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard)? When a bad public process stops a good project, everyone loses, and distrust in government increases.

How can the public involvement process be a positive experience for citizens and developers? How can the capability and energy of NIMBYs be channeled to a positive outcome?

More and more communities are discovering Dynamic Planning, a powerful process that results in the timely implementation of development projects that represent a win for the community. The truth is that often people are reacting more to the way they are treated than to the project itself. Dynamic Planning is a balanced approach to public involvement where all interested parties are involved from the beginning to create and support a buildable project.

Though it may seem counterintuitive at first, it is incredibly important to engage all stakeholders from the very beginning--including potential opponents or NIMBYs.

Ensuring that all viewpoints are at the table from the beginning and throughout the process is the first and most important step.

But how do you accomplish this? First, you must ensure that the meetings are interesting and meaningful enough to attract people who do not normally attend public meetings. If meetings are interactive and compelling, not only will a wider array of people attend, but it will also attract the press, which will help to publicize your project. These meetings also provide the organizer with quick public feedback.

Second, do not assume that the assigned representatives really represent their community accurately. …

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