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Thread: Looking to involve the community's children in planning

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jkellerfsu's avatar
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    Looking to involve the community's children in planning

    While I have no "direct" stake in the City school system here (no kids), I understand the indirect benefits of a decent system to me PERSONALLY as a City resident. As a product of a public city education I know these kids get little exposure to anything other than the streets.

    I have always had this desire to reach out to the kids we see as a "lost cause". Maybe I am just convinced I can do just about anything and need to try this.

    Has anyone attempted to take your planning to area highschools? I was thinking about visting some schools and asking the kids for input to develop a "transportation plan".....COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT! At the very least it will expose them to the profession at the most they will educate me on THEIR needs.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    I've never done this personally, but I've met other planners who have. Some asked elementary kids to draw and describe their ideal neighborhood. Some held little visioning sessions for junior high and high school social studies classes. These were actually part of the citizen input for comp plans.

    The GIS guy in my office was asked to speak to 6th graders awhile back, and explain to them what GIS and planning is for a social studies class, and he had a blast, and the kids thought it was pretty neat.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Below are a few examples of things I have heard about or otherwise come across. There were some others I was not able to find - just stories in various press about this idea. I am very interested in involving youth in planning activities as I think they are not only left out of the process, but out of the list of intended users of the city as well. The redesigned plaza or downtown district works great, except for the "no loitering" and "no skateboarding allowed" signs everywhere. Teens in particular are usually characterized in the press as perpetually up to no good and a force to be scared of. Turning this around, involving them directly in planning for the future and treating them with respect is a great idea, IMO, and a way to change a lot of things in society...

    Check these out. They might help. I'm sure you could find more with some good google searching.

    http://www.pps.org/tcb/highlights.htm

    Project for Public Space's website, under "Teens' improvements to public space" has some good examples of public space planning and reclamation with teens. Some interesting stuff.

    Saw this paper, though I cannot access the text directly. Perhaps you can at a local university or some such:

    Putting Teens at the Center: Maximizing Public Utility of Urban Space through Youth Involvement in Planning and Employment.
    Authors: Lawson, Laura; McNally, Marcia

    http://www.thebeehive.org/Templates/...5369.6532.8282
    Last month, in a show of sisterly love, a New York organization awarded a $19,000 grant to a New Orleans youth program thatís helping local youth participate in neighborhood planning meetings and implement their vision for their communityís future.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I think that involving youth in urban planning initiatives has so much potential - empowering kids while encouraging them to take active roles in shaping their physical environments as well as their own paths...

    There have been some efforts I've heard/read about.

    There's a school of urban planning in NYC http://www.aupnyc.org

    There's also a cool program in DC at the National Building Museum that takes place during the summers - they recruit volunteers so if any planners in that metro area are interested...http://www.nbm.org/education/Design/CityVision.html

    Also, Berkeley had, in the past, a partnership with area schools focused specifically on participatory planning, but I'm not sure if it exists anymore...

  5. #5
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I think that this requires a bit more on the teacher's part, but I think that it is a great program that ULI has been working on.

    UrbanPlan
    http://www.urbanplan.org/UP_Home/UP_Home_fst.html
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jkellerfsu's avatar
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    Sweet, thanks for your responses.

    This will be something I am going to do a lot of cheerleading to initiate. I am sure my boss will see it as a waste of time - too many hearts and flowers - no direct cost rewards.

    Additionally, we employ City students (100+) every summer and they typically sit around the building bored out of their minds.....I'd actually like to give them something to do. Do any of you have to keep kids busy for 3 mos out of the year? If so, with what?

  8. #8
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by jkellerfsu View post
    Additionally, we employ City students (100+) every summer and they typically sit around the building bored out of their minds.....I'd actually like to give them something to do. Do any of you have to keep kids busy for 3 mos out of the year? If so, with what?
    100 kids just for your department or for the whole city? Traffic counting is the first thing that comes to my mind. Students are also great for conducting surveys. If there is no history or infrastructure in place to manage these initiatives it may take a bit of time to get a proper programme in place. Students do require a fair bit of supervision, so keep that in mind too.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jkellerfsu's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner View post
    100 kids just for your department or for the whole city? Traffic counting is the first thing that comes to my mind. Students are also great for conducting surveys. If there is no history or infrastructure in place to manage these initiatives it may take a bit of time to get a proper programme in place. Students do require a fair bit of supervision, so keep that in mind too.
    The entire Department of Transportation gets 100 - I may get 6. The problem is that the division I was working for didn't do anything with them - 3 would sit at the receptionist desk, answer phones and play on net.

    Since I now have the opportunity to do something with them in the new division, I want to make sure I take advantage of it. Unfortunatley we contract all of our traffic counts out - we do not have the equipment.

    What type of surveys?

  10. #10
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by jkellerfsu View post
    What type of surveys?
    I guess it would depend on the mandate of your department and any specific projects you might be undertaking.

    I have and would consider using students to undertake trip generation surveys, parking surveys, license plate trace surveys, origin-destination surveys and gap analyses. Depending on what sort of data you are getting from your traffic count program, you may want to look at using students to do supplemental counts for specific locations or maybe for things like pedestrian or bicycle counts.

    If you are building the department from scratch, there will likely be a ton of work needing in setting up administrative infrastructure - filing systems, databases, etc. Students are great for that sort of work...you just need to make sure to keep on top of quality control.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    My CDC hired a team of high school and college aged interns during summer 2004 to research, design, and construct a community map of east Somerville, Massachusetts. It was a great project that combined productive summertime employment and great experience for the young people for a project that has had great planning and community development implications for our CDC. Take a look at the map that we have online, at our CDC's website (http://www.somervillecdc.org/communitymap/index.php).

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I had great success a couple years ago with a program called Box City. http://www.cubekc.org/

    We went to two different elementary schools (but the program can be suited to any age, even adults) in celebration of World Town Planning Day in November. It was also the previous presidential election year, so it tied in well with our program.

    The week prior, while the students were studying about the election process, they held their own elections for mayor and four Box City commissioners. This was in preparation of our session with them. We had four professional planners from our area come as volunteers to administer the program. They had to develop their own zoning map, and then build their city according to their adopted map. They had created various buildings and uses with boxes also the previous week. Each student had made his or her own building. Once the city was somewhat developed, we had 'developers' come in and ask the commission for permission to build what their use was. They had to follow the zoning map, or give a good reason why not to. Realize this was 5th graders, so we had greatly simplyfied the process to get the idea across.

    I highly recommend it. The program comes with a booklet to explain how it can be taught in various ways. I'm sure you can suit it to your needs.

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