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Thread: Use of games in public meetings

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Use of games in public meetings

    I'm currently developing a methodology to make the group exercices at our upcoming public meetings more interesting. Has anyone ever used games to involve the participants? If so, which games did you use and how did the participants find them - interesting, informative, useful, etc? Thanks!
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I've always wanted to do an Amish SimCity type-thing with a community group. I would have them work in groups to design what they would like to see develop like and draw it to scale. You then set up assumtions, like what road capacities and speed limits are, what amount of traffic different uses create, Under what circumstances will people walk more, criteria for effective mass transit, etc.

    You would then have them run scenarios like a fire truck responding to different areas of the city to demostrate the need for street connectivity and careful placement of public services. You could have people make hypothetical trips to the store, only to find that the intensity of uses on such a small road leads to severe traffic congestion and delays.

    I don't think it would work well for a large city, but it might work for small towns or specific plans on a particular area of a large city.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Our former planning director had the crowd play "XXX County Jeopardy" at the beginning of a public meeting for our comprehensive plan update. The staff was mortified, the public angry at the waste of time, and we were skewered in the newspaper.

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    I have used a lot simple gaming, including group design of subdivisions on given sites, the application of proposed policies to both hypothetical and real projects, fun warm-up activities, etc.I am not sure where the boundary between gaming and serious activities really is. It is good to have fun at public meetings. There is a little on this in our book, The Planning for Results Guidebook. What activities I choose depends on the audience and the agenda. Given a more specific scenario, I would be able to offer some more specific examples.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally posted by Planderella
    I'm currently developing a methodology to make the group exercices at our upcoming public meetings more interesting. Has anyone ever used games to involve the participants? If so, which games did you use and how did the participants find them - interesting, informative, useful, etc? Thanks!
    Go to this website and look up Hannah Twaddell under staff. She has actually developed strategies for just such participation

    http://www.citiesthatwork.com/

    Games People Play: Using Games as a Public Participation Strategy Women’s Transportation Seminar annual conference, Spring 2004

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    What activities I choose depends on the audience and the agenda. Given a more specific scenario, I would be able to offer some more specific examples.
    The purpose of the meetings is to encourage the public to help select which streets should be included in the major thoroughfare plan and how those streets should be classified. Also, the project team is developing a set of standards to be included in this plan. These standards would include traffic calming devices, road design, etc.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

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    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Box cities can be fun
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    Our former planning director had the crowd play "XXX County Jeopardy" at the beginning of a public meeting for our comprehensive plan update. The staff was mortified, the public angry at the waste of time, and we were skewered in the newspaper.

    XXX County Jeopardy? What?!! Was it all answers about the adult bookstores in the County?

  9. #9

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    A personal favourite of mine used to be Planning Committee Bingo. You'd run sweepstakes with the other planners attending to see if any of the elected members/Councillors said their favourite phrases, eg;

    "I feel sorry for the farmers, they're being run into the ground (subtext - I'm a farmer)"

    "The Government is destroying the countryside - its up to us to stand up to them (subtext - I'm a farmer and have been saying this for the last 40 years)

    "Theres not enough for the kids to do"/"Kids of today have no respect and don't deserve a facility like this" (subtext - I have kids/I don't have kids)

    "Is it Sustainable?" (subtext - check out my knowledge of planning buzz words)

    "I know the applicant, and he's a decent chap who just wants to make a living for his family" (subtext - please let this shyster build his spaceship bungalow in the middle of the countryside contrary to all approved planning policies - he drinks in the same pub as me)

    "Is there any more coffee?"

    I realise this probably isn't entirely what you're looking for, but hope you don't mind the post

  10. #10

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    Getting citizens involved in a major thoroughfare plan and street classification is a good idea. It is all too often seen as a technical enterprise, but the folks along the streets are going to have to live with the choices.

    I believe I would start with an entry activity in which I posted maps showing all the streets in question, probably on a neighborhood level. Then I'd ask folks to think of a typical day and draw all of their (and their family's) trips using markers. The maps are going to have to be pretty small scale to have people share so I would use an easily photocopied scale and give everyone a map. Then I'd use the good old NGP - nominal group process. Put them in small groups (5-9), have them share their maps onto one (groups might have to be organized by neighborhood rather than randomly), and have them talk about what problems/issues the streets create for them. This may lead to proposals for traffic calming on arterials or any of a number of other interesting results, but it will get them all in the mood to listen. Have them put their reports on easel pad sheets and share them, possibly gallery style, during a break. Then come back and explain functional class and how it helps the city address their issues. Conclude by passing out more maps and having each group draw a functional class map.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by noj
    "Theres not enough for the kids to do"
    Oh god, things are the same everywhere. I cringe every time I hear this, or its partner, "We need a teen center so that kids have a safe place to hang out after school and do their homework or have fun without getting into trouble." There is a corollary to this that I often here as an economic developer. It is usually some do-go liberal social worker type, or somebody affiliated with one of the (usually evangelical) churches who comes in saying " I have a wonderful idea to open a teen center. Kids have so much disposable income and their spending on pop and snacks is going to support it." There are about a half dozen kids who sometimes go there after it opens. Two or three months later it closes and somebody shows up in my office talking about how " This city really needs a teen center so that kids...."
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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