Planning charette process - Mpls example
From: Fred H. Olson (
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 10:30:27 -0500
I'm posting the following description in case it might be helpful in
thinking about a planning process that would be of use to cohousing
groups. The process resembles the "Open Space Technology" used at the 1997
Cohousing Conference in Seattle.  Note that the area being planned in this
description would be ideal for an urban cohousing site - if there were
prime movers that wanted to make it happen (there are not currently).
Thanks to Cohousing-L subscriber Rebecca Bryant - rebbry [at] who first
told me about the Urban Village part of this when she visited Minneapolis

On Sat 4/18/98 I attended the main public session for "planning charette" 
which was announced belatedly on the Twin Cities Neighborhood Issues
mailing list with the following description: 

"A planning charette is taking place next week for the area of Lake
Street between Uptown and Lyndale.   A charette is a planning process
specifically designed to get the public involved from the very
beginning.  Members of the public, as well as people directly affected
by redevelopment/development (such as homeowners or businesses) attend
meetings with planners and city reps. where a proposal is created via
their input (usually in small groups).  Planners then take these ideas
and draw up a draft proposal within a few days.  It is then presented
again to the public.  Charettes are a needed alternative to the
perfunctory public hearing where a bunch of angry citizens voice their
concerns and then are usually ignored."

"This is a wonderful opportunity to contribute your views to what you'd
like this area to be like (especially if you live near there, although
everyone is welcome).  It is also a good opportunity to experience,
first hand, what "New Urbanism" (neo-traditional/traditional
town-planning) is about."

The process was (very briefly):
1) Residents and other interested folks registered and were assigned a
 table number. 
2) The 8 or so folks at 12 tables filled out responses to FIVE
 QUESTIONS on note cards.  (See summary of questions below)
3) Note cards were collected and redistributed
 so people had cards from someone at a different table.
4) As a group tables compiled a poster for each question based on the
 cards form others.
5) Posters were posted and each participant was noted the first and second
 priority (with red and blue sticky dot - hence "dotocracy") on the twelve
 posters for each question.
6) a wrap up session, with brief identification of a few obvious findings.

The multi day process continues by transcribing and summarizing the 
60 posters, nearly 1000 dots on the 5 questions. The priorities 
established by this process feed into the 6 3-4 hour "Design Sessions"
(over 5 days) with 15 design professionals.  The design pros were
distributed around the tables as moderators for the Sat session.
A public presentation of the Design alternatives is scheduled for 
Wed 4/22/98 7:30 PM at Jefferson School at 26th and Hennepin Av.
Written documents will also be available.

Requests for Proposals (RFP's) from developers are expected 
by early summer.

The Uptown area is a dense highly developed urban area with many
businesses, two nearby city parks with lakes, a library, a mix of housing,
a lots of street activity.  It has several buslines that terminate there.
The planned Greenway on a depressed rail corridor will go thru the area.
There is lots of vehicular traffic and housing tends to be expensive.
The traffic and parking problems of the area were repeatedly noted as

The Questions:
1) What are 3 things you like about Uptown?
2) What are 3 things you dislike about Uptown?
3) What are 3 features you would like in the bus layover/hub facility
   which will be built?
4) What are three features of the Urban village that will be developed
   on 6-10 acres of current industrial land adjacent to the greenway?
5) What are 3 features of the Uptown area you would like to see in twenty

BTW I did lobby for cohousing at my table and put it on my card for
questions 4 and 5.  Specifically I put something like
"some intentional community / cohousing" down for question 5.

During the wrap up session the presenter noted several phrases from the
posters that he thought noteworthy.  Several times he mentioned
"intentional community" in his ad hoc comments.  I think he was using the
term in a more generalized but compatible sense than we usually do.


Fred H. Olson  fholson [at]    Minneapolis,MN   55411  
(612)588-9532  Amateur radio: WB0YQM          List manager of:
Cohousing-L  See        and      nbhd-tc  the
Twin Cities Neighborhood issues list. See

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