Back in February CityLab covered an effort by residents of the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul, MN to get people invested in contributing to the Small Area Plan for their neighborhood. This was in part driven by the experience the Frogtown Neighborhood Association voted to refurbish an historic theater in town but the mayor choose to direct the money to a police shooting range because the theater wasn’t in the neighborhood’s small area plan.
Because Small Area Plans, like strategic plans tend to be dry documents that get put on a shelf never to be consulted, the Frogtown Neighborhood Association were determined to make their plan a living document with which people interacted. They did this by placing the plan and the feedback they received from hundreds of residents into the framework of a comic book.
What I admire about the document is that they create 8 characters who are experts on major areas of concern like land use, housing, transportation, education, arts, health and wellness, economic vitality and resource allocation. They make each of these people representative of different demographic segments like long time residents, house owners, apartment renters, kids, married couples, single college grads, etc.
By doing so they put a face and connect expertise to different people in the neighborhood so it is more difficult to dismiss people as gentrifiers or cranky malcontents standing in the way of progress.
They reiterate their goal quite a few times across the book to employ design thinking to “Sculpt our community into a mixed income, arts, entrepreneurship and education centered urban village.”
Because it is a planning document it is still pretty text heavy, but this is an example of what is contained within the book. As I sort of implied before, you could probably do worse than applying this approach to your strategic plan.
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