An almost unlimited range of events can be held during National Community Planning Month to highlight the contributions of planning in your community, region, or state.The following are just a few possibilities to consider.
National Community Planning Month also offers an ideal occasion to develop and screen a short video about planning's role in shaping the community and region. The very process of producing such a program can engage many different members of the community as well as attract the attention of local media. For footage of planning projects featured in APA's National Planning Awards videos contact APA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look for assistance from local television stations, cable systems, audio-visual departments of major companies, and media programs at local colleges, technical schools, and high schools.
The final product can be screened at an open house, shown by a local television or cable company, or posted to a community website for viewing and downloading.
APA's Planning Advisor Service Report 500/501, Lights, Camera, Community Video, is an excellent how-to manual that offers numerous examples of places where this has been done and a DVD with some of the resulting videos.
Illustrate How Planning Creates Great Places
Looking to illustrate the connection between planning and great places? APA's Community-Wide Audio/Web Conference Great Plans, Great Communities provides a striking introduction to planning and makes the case for the importance and wide-ranging benefits of planning. See a preview of the presentation below.
Organize walking, bike, bus, boat, driving or jogging tours to highlight the contributions of planning in your community, region, or state
Recruit planners from local agencies and firms as guides or produce self-guided brochures
Team up with other interest groups to sponsor tours
Promote tours to visitors staying at local hotels
Offer in-depth mobile workshops or short, one- to two-hour walking tours.
Tour Theme Ideas
Great Streets, Great Neighborhoods, Great Public Spaces — focus on the qualities that make a street or neighborhood in your community great.
Greening Streets and Neighborhoods — focus on ways that you are making your streets and neighborhoods greener.
People Making Great Streets and Neighborhoods — focus on the people who are working to make your streets and neighborhoods better places to live
Create an Exhibit
Put together a display that shows how good planning has guided the community's growth.
Put together a display of maps, photographs, and drawings that shows how the community (or particular neighborhoods or districts within it) has evolved over time.
Highlight ways that good planning has guided growth, creating assets enjoyed today, while always evaluating future options based on growth projections and community values.
Use the display to reveal recurring phases in the planning process, from citizen participation to policy decisions to plan implementation.
Point out the roles played by elected officials, professional planners, volunteers serving on planning commissions, and interest groups in the community.
Display exhibit at the state capitol or city hall for the entire month
Make it a traveling exhibit, moving to different locations around the community, such as public libraries, schools, and other venues.
Consider capturing the text and visuals assembled for an on-site exhibit and using them to create a more lasting, digital exhibit placed on the city or county's website. Such a virtual exhibit could provide newcomers to the community with a quick history of its evolution, as well as a quick lesson in the important role played by planning. For additional suggestions on ways to engage the public through a website devoted to community planning issues and processes, see Section 9 of the Planners' Communication Guide (E-Communications).
Hold an Open House
Local and regional planning agencies, planning firms, and planning schools can invite citizens to get an insider's view of planning topics, tools, and techniques by holding an open house. The presentation might introduce viewers to current planning issues, pose questions about future growth decisions, and emphasize ways to participate in the planning process.
Use photographs, maps, and models to highlight past accomplishments and current planning projects.
Demonstrate how planners use GIS, scenario modeling, and other visual simulation techniques to show what the community might look like 10 or 20 years from now.
Use a short video, slide show, or PowerPoint presentation to give an overview of the community's history, pointing out how planning provided a good framework for aspects of the community people still enjoy.
Provide light refreshments and giving visitors a take-home gift, such as a planning-related T-shirt, mouse pad, or button.
Hold a Public Forum
National Community Planning Month provides a great opportunity to draw attention to planning issues in the community or surrounding region and to place those issues within the context of current innovations in planning across the country. Forums can also be used to help community members place their immediate concerns within a larger context.
Invite representatives from different "stakeholder" groups in a community to share their insights into current planning issues and their vision of possible solutions. Young people, the elderly, developers, realtors, environmentalists, public health professionals, major employers, union leaders, and many others have legitimate concerns as well as good ideas that the community as a whole needs to consider — and can consider through the planning process.
Whether designed as a series of lectures, a symposium, or a hands-on design charrette, such public forums can demonstrate that planning in America is a robust process that welcomes many perspectives to the table and touches upon all aspects of community life, now and well into the future.
Look at how other places in their region are grappling with issues that know no jurisdictional boundaries, such as air and water pollution, population and investment flows, transportation demands, and the like.
Illuminate how communities elsewhere in the country are creating effective solutions to commonly held problems through innovative planning: increasing affordable housing, creating mixed-use, mixed-income districts, revitalizing waterfronts and warehouse districts, taming the commercial strip, creating a networks of trails and greenways, and so forth.
Invite APA members who work in state or regional planning agencies, those in private practice, and those who teach in planning schools to speak
Present relevant examples.
NCPM Event Ideas
Use National Community Planning Month as an occasion to get planning out of the public hearing room and into the community. A few ideas:
Have a display at a local music festival, arts celebration, or county fair.
Reach out to other groups in the community to co-sponsor an event in recognition of National Community Planning Month, like a fund-raising 10K run or walk, with the proceeds going to a good cause like affordable housing, conservation, or K-12 education.
Get pledges from businesses, organizations, and special interest groups as a sign that they recognize, support, and celebrate good planning.
Recognize a prominent citizen who has contributed to good planning. Host the celebration at a local museum or art society, at a prominent outdoor space such as a waterfront or urban park, or at a local government building, such as your city hall. Put an announcement in a local newspaper or magazine featuring the citizen's accomplishments.