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Thread: Children's input into a comp plan

  1. #1

    Children's input into a comp plan

    Has anyone had any experience in trying to involve kids in the citizen participation aspect of a planning process?

    We don't expect to get any revalations from the youngsters, but we'd like to raise awareness of the plan as well as get kids thinking about community. What I'm looking for is some sort of exercise or activity to do with them.

    Any thoughts or experiences?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dankrzyz's avatar
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    Not sure how it might work into a comprehensive plan, but I've used it used in neighborhood planning activities. School children know their neighborhood. To them it's their world. Activites that talk about neighbors and communities and such are on their level. They'll show you what they like and don't like about where they live.

    And the reading-between-the-lines on their comments and discussion has been fascinating...

    Quote Originally posted by Daria Dittmer
    Any thoughts or experiences?

  3. #3
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I've done a simple exercise that any age can do, more in regards to the profession overall:

    I write the word Town on a blackboard and have the kids tell me what kinds of things are in a town - we fill the blackboard with "stuff" as in streets, parks, stores, schools, etc.

    then i break them into groups to tables where there are AD markers and brown kraft paper and say "okay, create your town and locate everything that's on this blackboard"

    i have them name their town, and then i add some land uses when they are almost complete, like the dump, mass transit routes, nuclear power plants

    one of my favorite scenes was when i asked them to locate a nuclear power plant, a 6th grade girl pointed at the table next to her table and said "put it over there" - i thought "you go girlfriend", lol - it was classic

    at the end of the exercise i say that this is what i do for a living except i don't get a sheet of blank paper

    what's fascinating is you automatically know what town a table is from orginally - if they locate a village green first, you know it's an old north shore town (this was when i was in Massachsuetts) but if they locate the mall or a strip first, then it's more like Saugus

    but i think you could do something like this for your involving youth in a comp plan - i'm trying to do the same thing in this town i'm in now

    i might bring maps to the kids showing certain data and ask them to analyze it - as in what would you do about "this"?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I think "Green mapping" was devised with children's participation in mind: http://www.greenmap.com/ (don't know if that will be relevant -- but that is the first thing which comes to mind).

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Although we haven't done it where I work now, My neighborhood council and the City I live in involved the local school kids in our neighborhood plan update that we are currently working on. Kids actually have a tremendous amount of insight into planning issues. The common thing that came up was walkability. We learned what areas the kids did not like because they didn't feel safe, some were suprising, some obvious. One thing that just about every kid said was that it would be cool if they could ride their bikes and not worry about getting hit by a car. Our neighborhood has a lot of alleys and the kids indicated that they used the alleys because they only had to cross the street, not ride in them.

    The kids also liked having access to a little corner market or convenience store, somewhere that they could go without a parent and get some candy or a drink.

    We also had some kids say that they liked having different trees on each street so that they could find there way around easier. Kids seem to be much better at recognizing familiar places than remembering street names. They made maps of their neighborhood and most were void of any street names, but they indicated streets and blocks by landmarks, mostly homes of friends, the park, school, etc. It was amazing how accurate some of the maps were, not in scale, but in spatial relationships.

    I think that cities would be much better if they involved more groups in decision making, particularly children.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian dankrzyz's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian
    I've done a simple exercise that any age can do, more in regards to the profession overall:
    This is the exercise that I have done. At the end, you not only learn about the children's perception of their place in the city, but you end up with some tough-to-ignore props for future meetings, discussions, etc. We followed the children's activity with our neighborhood workshop, leading with the kids' project and using that to start discussion on some of the issues. It's harder to pass up going to see your kid's school drawing than it is to skip another boring neighborhood meeting.

    Cute pictures for a municipal tv channel slideshow too.

    The kids were all very excited that The Mayor was going to see their drawings, too.

    Quote Originally posted by cololi
    I think that cities would be much better if they involved more groups in decision making, particularly children.
    Kids see everything, but place blame, responsibility, or judgement on very little. You get an honest response on how the world is from them. Not only is it cute, but it's generally very sharp.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 08 Dec 2005 at 5:04 PM.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    I've done it for recreation plans. What I have done is go into a school art class and explain to the children what I'm doing and then ask them to draw, paint or color pictures of the outdoor activities the like to do most or if wish they could do more if if the facilities were available in their community.

    We then feature their art in the plan and use the ideas a part of the needs and desires of the community.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    We had a youth visioning exercise, which is now one part of the public participation section of the comp plan. Started with a rough map, let groups of students fill in how the future city should look. And we did get a couple of revelations.

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