community planning

  • Process Progress

    Perhaps no word elicits groans more quickly than “process.”  In community planning and environmental planning, process is often equated with long, slow, cumbersome, and costly activities. This is only fair, as we have all been involved in a planning process that was somehow painful. In a recent city meeting, the word “process” was used 16 times, each time to describe something that was not done, was now late, or had become otherwise problematic.

    Why does process get a black eye? Process itself is not the problem, bad process is the problem. However, good process, the foundation of good thinking, often goes unnoticed and unheralded. Process is the fundamental feature of structured thinking, project management, and orderly social progress. Have you heard of the Socratic Method? It is a critical thought method dating back to Socrates and it undergirds several modern facilitation techniques. Two generations after Socrates, Aristotle advanced his own process of inquiry, deconstructing and dividing information into its parts by asking: “What is it? What is it good for? How do I know?” Aristotle’s thought process has fundamentally influenced western progress for over 2,300 years now.

    In late 2012, Logan Simpson began providing facilitation services for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, a very diverse collaborative group in a high-stakes community planning environment. The group had exhausted several facilitators and due to the complexity of issues, faced fresh challenges every month. The combination of personalities, interests, and history resulted in multiple and critical breakdowns. But now the group is clicking, producing, and performing well. What has changed? The answer would be good process.

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  • West Box Elder Resource Management Group’s work recognized by Public Lands Foundation

    The Public Lands Foundation presented the West Box Elder Coordinated Resource Management Group with its 2013 Landscape Stewardship Award. The Foundation grants this recognition to honor private citizens and organizations that work to advance and sustain community-based stewardship on landscapes that include, in whole or in part, public lands administered by the BLM.

    As the Public Involvement and Project Planning lead, LSD led extensive community-based scoping that included face-to-face meetings with stakeholders as well as several facilitated community meetings.  In these meetings, residents discussed challenges and conflicts, helped articulate desired future conditions, and built the framework for prioritizing goals for resource management across the landscape.

    The West Box Elder Group is actively engaged in landscape management projects in northwestern Utah. The lands included in their planning and project area are some of the most productive and critical sage grouse habitat lands in the Great Basin ecosystem. The landscape includes a balanced mix of BLM lands, state lands and private property, with planning and project execution crossing boundaries to implement logical management projects.

    Over the last two years, the Group has worked together as an effective response to the need for landscape level planning and project implementation in a critical region of the Great Basin.

    Click here to read the full plan.

  • Street Enhancements: Project Investment & Community Planning

    Many communities in the western United States face a twofold obstacle to effective community planning. These communities must balance popular demand for visually appealing streetscapes with limited city budgets and resources to construct and maintain them. On top of that, environmental consultants are tasked with the difficult process of cost-estimate analysis for these street enhancement projects.   This requires extensive interagency and interdepartmental cooperation, as well as regimented data collection processes, to substantiate long-term funding needs.

    Logan Simpson’s work with the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization can provide us with one such example of how community planning teams can organize data to build community consensus.

    In this project, the City of Cheyenne was faced with implementing several streetscape redevelopment initiatives. Following an extensive collaboration with the Cheyenne MPO, the Cheyenne Public Works Department, the Cheyenne Parks and Recreation Department, Laramie County, and the Wyoming Department of Transportation, Logan Simpson developed a mechanism that assists in the selection and cost estimation of right-of-way enhancements

    The system is a combination of three documents: 1) the Cheyenne Area Street Enhancement Toolbox, 2) the Cheyenne Area Streetscape Enhancement Worksheet, and 3) the Streetscape Enhancement Best Practices Analysis.

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  • Vision + Visualization

    Jeremy Call, RLA

    The effectiveness of community planning from leading organizations can be traced back to their stated vision or – in some cases – a lack thereof. A mission statement, or vision, that combines timeless principles with passion and purpose can have a powerful influence on a firm or team’s legacy.

    For city managers, vision statements are narrated through strategic, general, and comprehensive plans. However, for land managers, aspirations take the form of “desired future conditions” and “management goals” with respect to resource management plans. All too often, the core statements of the planner’s vision gets lost in the vast documentation, if found at all. The proverb, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” can easily be referenced to important realities faced in community planning. “Where there is no vision, the resources perish, and so does the community.”…

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