The Big Picture

APA Virginia Chapter


Monday, July 17, 2017
1:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. EDT

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Planning is often about bringing together differing viewpoints in order to visualize “the big picture” together. The greatest plans are those that come together through the sharing of common goals to create a masterpiece. This workshop will create a scenario in which participants can understand the challenges of having one vantage while being encouraged to see how they fit within a broader puzzle. The exercise will boost cooperation and communication.

To make this exercise fun and interactive, we will ask participants break into small groups, each responsible for painting and/or drawing a small segment of “The Big Picture”. Having no idea what the final image would be, teams will work together to ensure that lines meet and colors match. Instead of competing, each small group will have to adopt a ‘Big Picture’ approach to ensure that the final result be a success. Effective coordination will require each group’s canvas to fit perfectly.

After the painting is complete, we will reflect up how this exercise is representative of planning challenges and scenarios. While this exercise can be applicable in other team building situations, such as work environments, we will specifically focus the conversation on planning issues. I will guide the discussion by asking four questions:

1. How did your painting change before and after seeing the image on the screen?

2. How does this exercise relate to what we do as planners?

3. Can we use this exercise to better understand a long-term vision for our communities?

4. Can this exercise be adapted for a charrette or other community engagement style setting?


Dana Wedeles, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Dana Wedeles is a Principal Planner with the City of Alexandria, VA. She received her Bachelor’s degree from New York University and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University. Prior to relocating to her hometown of Alexandria in 2010, she worked in various park operations and ... Read More

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