Building consensus around your development goals.
No One-Size-Fits-All Approach
Trestle has worked on many controversial and challenging projects in established neighborhoods. We have found that a one-size fits all approach is not the best way to approach community engagement. We work closely with the design and development team to understand the key project challenges, neighborhood dynamics, and the political landscape to develop a customized, effective and inclusive outreach strategy designed to both inform and engage the community.
Our team prides itself in responsive, customized and tactical community engagement to ensure an appropriate, inclusive and constructive process. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits all approach. We work with our clients to develop a cost-effective and meaningful strategy to engage with the public. From the outset we work with the team to understand the goals and drivers of the project, process requirements and all aspects of potential community interest or concern. We will identify strategic and customized solutions to not only address concerns proactively, but we also identify opportunities and activities to engage with stakeholders in a productive, inclusive and proactive manner. Simultaneously, we strategically identify avenues to build support and engage advocates.
Additionally, we are accustomed to working with clients who have multiple levels of input and decision-making built into their processes. We develop strategies and tactics to engage them throughout the process in order to keep them informed, and supportive of current and future goals and developments. There are often many stakeholders involved with multiple agendas and expectations, which can sometimes result in delays and complications. Finding the common ground within those perspectives, balancing interests, exhibiting flexibility & transparency, building opportunities for shared learning will contribute to collaborative and successful outcomes.
We emphasize that effective, adaptive and early community engagement is a primary driver in realizing a successful development project and as a means to demonstrate long-term commitment to a meaningful and inclusive public process. Our Team prides itself on transparent communication and will stress the importance of identifying ways for diverse voices to all have a say in any future scenarios. We will work especially hard to engage ALL stakeholders and create an inclusive approach that includes people with English as a second language, children, elderly, disabled, and other traditionally non-represented stakeholders to feel included and have an opportunity to participate.
A sampling of our successful engagement & outreach approach includes:
- Integrating emotional, physical and intellectual engagement practices
- Innovative and interactive community participation projects
- Storytelling and visioning activities to find common ground and develop project goals
- Framing all opportunities for participation and how stakeholders can engage at the level that works for them
- Help stakeholders understand their roles and the roles and responsibilities of others involved in any decision process
- Consensus building and education around complex issues
- Community investment in a revitalized location
- No surprises at public hearings
Our Team has found that scheduling regular, informal walkabouts with adjacent neighbors and interested community members is a very effective tool to develop relationships, respond to concerns and build trust within a community. Typically we will schedule walkabouts over a 1 hour period where project team members will meet on site and casually “walk and talk” about the project, the site, the schedule, massing, height, and other topics. If specific topics are of brought up (traffic, maintenance, drainage, etc) we will include those experts in an upcoming walk. Walkabouts are inclusive and flexible – families, children, seniors, bicyclists and friends are all encouraged to attend – and we have found success in connecting with folks who typically don’t engage in the public process. Through these walkabouts, broader and deeper conversations will emerge outside of formal community meeting settings.
A project specific website can be a very effective and responsive tool for the community. Our team is experienced in building independent, branded websites for our clients to create an agile and responsive venue to exchange, post and share information. We have found that creating a standalone website helps break down perceptions between the community and the development team, while providing a trusted, agile, source of information that can be easily updated, enhanced and archived. We can create these websites quickly and efficiently, and the team has access to be able to update and change as desired. Trestle built www.lyonshousingcollaborative.com for Boulder County Housing Authority to share complex information in a fact-based, consistent and transparent manner for a project with extremely tight deadlines and a divided and emotionally charged community.
Design and Planning Charrettes
Our team has organized many design and visioning meetings, including charrettes, to engage the community, stakeholders, and civic leaders in the planning process. The timing and organization of these meetings is the key to effective engagement, and we work with the team to organize a strategy for each meeting and deploy appropriate tools during each phase of the process. Tools used at these meetings include interactive sessions around massing, architectural treatment, amenities, sustainability, buffers, and connections. Bringing examples to the community of other similar projects and potentially taking tours of other projects, can be extremely effective at generating support and discussion around the future design.
Community Storytelling and Visioning
Many of the communities we work in have stories of their own to tell. We work to find constructive and creative ways to allow people to tell their stories and engage in the visioning, planning and design process. Examples of community storytelling projects include red frame/green frame exercises in which communities can easily identify elements of their community that they treasure as well as things that they don’t like. “City as Play” is an incredible easy and effective tool to wok with neighbors and residents (including children) to share their vision of their community. Using a variety of small objects found in their daily lives, residents can create and then visualize their community evolving. It is an empowering activity as residents begin to see themselves as problem-solvers in their own neighborhoods. This can be a learning activity for all involved, as well as a platform for residents to share ideas they otherwise may not have a chance to. All age groups can and should participate. Additional ideas for storytelling include incorporating art into the planning process and opening fixed storefront project space to create a safe and consistent place to learn about a project, share information and bring the engagement directly into the community. We are constantly creating new storytelling and visioning activities into our work as we discover different ways projects and neighborhoods desire to engage.
Developing a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) early with frequent updates is an effective tool at providing consistent and transparent information on complex and controversial projects. We have found that community members often have incorrect and non-fact based information related to affordable housing developments. An FAQ can be an effective tool to share information and provide detailed answers to a variety of questions ranging from the financing mechanisms, who will live here, engineering and traffic concerns, and sustainability practices.
A regular, consistent and informative e-newsletter can be extremely effective in keeping interested parties up to date on the project. Our team has experience in designing and managing newsletters and we work with our clients to create a schedule for newsletter communications.