Inclusivity matters. That’s what the City of Cambridge, MA believes. It’s why the City has undertaken the update to its Master Plan, Envision Cambridge, with the aim of engaging far beyond the city’s usual suspects. (As part of the Envision Cambridge team led by Utile, NP will be working on housing, jobs and economic development issues related to the plan.)
A recent Next City feature speaks to Cambridge’s approach and key lessons that could apply in other communities. The article speaks to four ideas for making planning efforts more inclusive:
These ideas complement NP’s own thinking on ways to make planning efforts more inclusive.
Increasing community participation requires embracing new technologies (e.g. online tools and “serious games”) and recalling the old ways (e.g. storytelling and community gatherings). It’s hard work but the results - a plan with more inclusive ideas and greater community buy-in – speak for themselves.
NP recently wrapped up the GrowSMART Regional Economic Growth Strategy for the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (known as RiverCOG for short). This 17-town region in south central Connecticut includes rural bedroom communities, coastal second home hot spots and more urbanized centers. Like many parts of the Northeast, the RiverCOG region is facing the challenges of an aging but also increasingly diverse population as well as diversifying its economy in a sustainable way.
The core of the plan focuses on how to understand current conditions and trends in relation to the people’s desired future in order to develop feasible strategies to move the region forward.
The GrowSMART work illustrated three important points to consider for any regional planning effort:
Michael Porter has said, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” By focusing on what can be controlled, understanding key trade-offs and prime opportunities for partnership, GrowSMART provides the RiverCOG region with a strategic path for sustainable economic growth.
More project info: GrowSMART falls into NP's portfolio of economic strategy projects. Our project team members included FHIand Community Workshop.
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