Catalyzing Action through Convening: Facilitating Effective Workshops

APA North Carolina Chapter


Thursday, September 28, 2017
11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. EDT

CM | 1.25

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US EPA contractors and staff present a well-vetted facilitation technique for public workshops used nationwide by EPA's Office of Sustainable Communities. The speakers have deep experience facilitating this style of technical assistance and their expertise introduces North Carolina planners to a successful method for moving their communities towards catalytic action. Session includes an informative presentation, a panel discussion, and a hands-on planning activity.

This session introduces practicing planners to a well-vetted facilitation approach for catalyzing action. EPA's "quick hit" technique is used by communities falling within a wide range of resource and organizational capacities, and the Office of Sustainable Communities (OSC) has several resources on their website ( that support the do-it-yourself method for a variety of Smart Growth tools and topics. The convening and facilitation methods introduced in this session are the methods OSC recommends for deploying its suite of technical assistance tools but they are useful far beyond just EPA applications. Speakers will discuss how this approach integrates flexibility, allowing for on-the-ground adjustments based on the individual community and workshop participants. Planners will learn how to "unstick" communities through convening, work sessions, and by developing a specific plan of action and next steps centered on a set of community goals. These action plans are successful because they emphasize implementation and next steps and they secure clear commitments towards moving forward including purpose, roles, time lines, and resources needed. The City of Graham, NC will be on hand to provide a first-hand account of their experience with this technical assistance method.


Alan Steinbeck

Invited Speaker

Alan Steinbeck, Principal, LFLP Program Development Team and Technical Assistance Facilitator Renaissance Planning, Durham, NC Alan’s focus as a planning and design professional has been overseeing projects and programs integrating issues of transportation, land use, community development and design. He has successfully managed the completion of numerous projects including ... Read More

Nathan Page

Invited Speaker

Nathan Page is interim city planner in Graham, NC and serves on the APA-NC Legislative Committee. Read More

Jason Espie, AICP

Invited Speaker

Jason Espie is a Project Manager with Renaissance Planning Group and has over 18 years of diversified experience in planning, community development and project/grant management. In recent years, he has led local food systems planning, economic development, downtown revitalization, placemaking and visioning workshops in more than 25 communities nationwide ... Read More

Chip Gurkin

Invited Speaker

Chip Gurkin is a program manager in the Office of Sustainable Communities at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., which provides technical expertise and assistance to communities across the country that are seeking to build vibrant, healthy, and sustainable neighborhoods and downtowns. This assistance focuses on ... Read More

Caroline Dwyer, AICP

Invited Speaker

Caroline Dwyer, AICP is a Senior Planner with Renaissance Planning, based out of the firm's Durham, North Carolina office. Caroline's academic and professional experiences in the areas of sustainability and resiliency have given her unique understanding of these concepts, and how to incorporate them into planning effectively. Caroline ... Read More

Contact Info

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