Theory and Practice of Community Design Charrette

This segment shares the content and application of curriculum developed by the University of Wisconsin-Extension on Theory and Practice of Community Design Charrette. Community Design Charrettes are high-energy community planning activities that concentrate public involvement into a 3-day period (the charrettee) that generates energy and momentum needed for implementation.

The Community Design Charrette is based on the Minnesota Design Team model that since 1983, has assisted more than 120 rural communities discover their shared visions for the future.  During the three-day charrette, a team of 12-20 volunteer planning and design professionals live and work with a community to collaboratively develop short-, medium-, and long-term visions.  A “workbook” is used to help guide the community 6-8 months prior to the charrette with planning and logistical activities designed to prepare the community for the charrette and for implementation.

 

Community Design Charrette Process

Unlike a traditional strategic planning process, the community design charrette approach concentrates public engagement into a 3-day event.  The event or “visit” consists of a flurry of interactive activities that encourage the exchange of ideas while generating the energy needed for implementation.  Like a traditional strategic planning process, the community design charrette involves months of preparation and deliberation involving key stakeholders.  Contrary to public opinion, the community design charrette process involves just as much time and effort as a traditional process and merely projects the illusion that it is quick, fun, and simple.  This illusion is by design and is critical to successful public participation and implementation.  The basic steps o the process are illustrated in the slide show below.

A Typical Timeline

Step 1:  Community contacts local UW Extension Educator (6-10 months prior to the “Visit”).

  • Community Develops a Team of Local Leaders
  • Community Leadership Team downloads MDT Workbook and completes application exercises (at least 1 month’s worth of work).
  • Community Applies for a Community Design Team Visit to UW Extension Community Vitality & Placemaking Team

Step 2: UW Extension Community Vitality & Placemaking Team reviews application and schedules a site visit with the Community Leadership Team and local UW Extension Educator.

Step 3: UW Extension Community Vitality & Placemaking Team selects community.

  • UW Extension Community Vitality & Placemaking Team:
    • A Community Design Team (CDT) of volunteer planning and design professionals, engineers and scientists, along with UW faculty and students is assembled.
    • A community profile is generated to provide background information to CDT members prior to the “Visit”.
  • Community Leadership Team & local UW Extension Educator:
    • Half of the fee is payed to the UW Extension Community Vitality & Placemaking Team prior to the assembly of the CDT, the other half is payed 1 week prior to the “Visit”.
    • Preparations for the “Visit” begin with guidance from the local UW Extension Educator.

Step 4:  the “Visit”

  • Thursday, 7-9 PM:  CDT members meet Community Leadership Team, host families, and other CDT members.
  • Friday, 9 AM – noon:  Community presentations to CDT members.
  • Friday, noon – 1:30:  Working lunches with 3-4 different community groups.
  • Friday 1:30 PM:  Bus/walking tour of the community.
  • Friday 4 PM:  CDT meeting to prepare for Town Meeting.
  • Friday 6 PM:  Community potluck supper.
  • Friday 7 PM:  Town Meeting
  • Saturday 8 AM:  CDT meeting and work session.
  • Saturday noon:  CDT working lunch.
  • Saturday 4 PM:  CDT meeting of presenters.
  • Saturday 5 PM:  CDT working supper.
  • Saturday 6 PM:  CDT pin-ups and photographing for community presentation.
  • Saturday 7 PM:  CDT presentation to the community.

Step 5:  Post-Visit Reporting (within a month of the “Visit”)

  • UW Extension Community Vitality & Placemaking Team:
    • CDT evaluation and debriefing.
    • Slideshow and drawings distributed to community and CDT members.
    • Summary report of the “Visit” is generated and distributed to community and CDT members.
  • Community Leadership Team & local UW Extension Educator:
    • Implementation/action groups begin working on outcomes from the “Visit”.

Step 6:  Follow-Up Visit (6 months after the “Visit”)

  • UW Extension Community Vitality & Placemaking Team meets with Community Leadership Team and local UW Extension Educator to assess impacts and collect feedback.

UW Extention Pilot Program: Grantsburg, WI

In April of 2014, the University of Wisconsin Extension partnered with the National Park Service, the University of Minnesota Center for Rural Design, and the Minnesota Design Team of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Institute of Architects to conduct a Community Design Charrette in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.  The team included architects, landscape architects and planners from Wisconsin and Minnesota along with Community Resource Development educators from the University of Wisconsin Extension’s Community Vitality & Placemaking Team.

 Community Design Impacts (6 months later…)

 

 

 

If your community is interested in a community design charrette, please click here.