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Past Events

Community Engagement Best Practices 
Local examples of best practices, strategies, and efforts to engage the public
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The first workshop offered in the PlanIt series featured a conversation on Community Engagement. This event included a panel discussion, highlighting experiences of staff from cities of Brooklyn Park, Hopkins, and St. Paul in engaging community members in planning efforts, including comprehensive planning.

Metropolitan Council: Project Engagement Planning Worksheet 
Brooklyn Park: Community Engagement
Hopkins: Planning for the Whole Community
St. Paul: Pop Up Meeting

The Route from Affordable Housing to Home: Effective Practices to Get Results 

Presented in partnership with Cathy Capone Bennett, ULI-MN
Thursday, October 13, 2016

This workshop included a presentation focused on the five key elements that are critical in laying the groundwork for creating a stronger community including technical resources to help you achieve your community housing goals. Also,  a panel of experts in the field talked first-hand about how they have overcome the specific challenges of getting housing projects approved and why it is increasingly important for cities to be better prepared to accommodate future housing needs based upon market shifts and demographic changes.    

Brad Tabke: The Power of More 
ULI-MN: Culturally Enriched Communities

Transit Oriented Development in Your Comp Plan

A facilitated panel of local planners and Metropolitan Council staff
Thursday, January 26, 2017

Many communities throughout the region will be updating their comprehensive plans to support transit oriented development (TOD). This workshop brought together colleagues with a range of experience in TOD planning and implementation. 

During the first half of the workshop, Met Council staff addressed new TOD policy as well as provided information on technical and financial resources for TOD planning and implementation. A Q&A session followed. 

The second half of the workshop featured a panel of local planners. Topics included lessons learned and how communities are approaching new or ongoing challenges. This was a facilitated panel with opportunities for those attending the workshop to join the discussion. The panelists brought slides to assist with the discussion, which are included below.

The following is a list of resource links related to topics of conversation discussed during the workshop.

Interactive Community Engagement  
A new approach to community engagement 
Thursday, February 16, 2017 AND Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Award winning Urban Planner James Rojas lead an interactive workshop/demonstration on techniques and strategies that planners can use to facilitate inclusive, meaningful, and productive community meetings. James Rojas, founder of PlaceIt, is an MIT-trained urban planner who has developed an innovative public engagement and community visioning method that uses art-making as its medium. Through this method he has engaged thousands of people by facilitating more than 400 workshops and building more than 50 interactive models around the world

James Rojas: Urban Planners as Community Healers

Introduction to Comprehensive Plans and Equity

Sponsored by PlanIt and the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE)
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

As part of the PlanIt series, the Metropolitan Council is collaborating with the Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) and the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) to provide a training and speaker series to help inform 2040 comprehensive plan updates. This workshop provided an introduction to the vision, role, responsibilities and opportunities for government to advance racial equity via comprehensive plans. The workshop focused on normalizing racial equity as a key value with clear definitions of key terminology, operationalizing racial equity via new policies and institutional practice, and organizing, both internally and in partnership with other institutions and the community. We introduced examples of integrating racial equity into comprehensive plans. Workshop presentation is now available

Affordable Housing: Tools and Mechanisms

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The lack of fiscal resources for development and preservation of affordable housing threatens our regional ability to accommodate existing and future need. As communities embark on their comprehensive plan updates, it is important to be aware of both the potential and the limitations of available housing programs and financial resources. The workshop was split into two parts. The first half focused on programs for building and maintaining affordable housing, including programs offered by Minnesota Housing for homeowners and homebuyers, multifamily opportunities made possible through the Consolidated Request for Proposals or Super RFP, a primer on Livable Communities Act programs, and finance and policy tools available to local municipalities. In the second half, focus was on practitioners’ perspectives for creating and preserving affordable and mixed-income housing with examples of unique work at the local level in both finance and policy, a developer’s view on working with communities for results, and new tools to spur mixed-income development. Workshop presentation is now available, as well as a detailed Questions and Answer document

Re-thinking Engagement Strategies- "Pop ups" and Other Fresh Ideas

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Have a hard time driving turnout at your public meetings? Looking for some new ideas that work to engage with new audiences and get input that is vital to shaping comprehensive plans? This workshop focused on the specifics of implementing an interactive engagement strategy, being intentional about connecting with community members, and gaining information from these activities to translate into the comprehensive plan. Conversation topics included using stories to make a strong connection to goals and tactics, qualitative data gathering, and how this information can potentially affect policy change. Included was a demonstration of when and how a pop-up model can be an effective tool to connect with community members.

Redevelopment Lessons for Comprehensive Planning

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Redevelopment of underused, obsolete or aging property presents challenges and opportunities for many communities. Goals, policies, and strategies for redevelopment in local comprehensive plan updates can lay the groundwork for improvements in economic competitiveness, livability, and community character. At this workshop, participants shared lessons learned with their peers on redevelopment issues and projects. Through peer-to-peer discussions led by a facilitator, participants learnt about challenges from different parts of the metro area, as well as strategies for effective implementation of comprehensive plans. Access the Workshop Summary for additional information. Facilitators included: 

  • Merritt Clapp-Smith, St. Paul – communications and community outreach
  • Julie Farnham, Bloomington – feasibility of mixed uses
  • Julie Jones, Fridley – community engagement
  • Jason Zimmerman, Golden Valley – stormwater management with housing redevelopment
  • John Hinzman, Hastings - downtown redevelopment
  • Anne Kane, White Bear Lake – reuse, mixed use and environmental cleanup
  • Bill Lightner, Washington County Community Development Agency – adaptive reuse

Planning for Equitable Development, including Land Use, Housing, Parks, Transportation

Sponsored by PlanIt and the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE)
Tuesday, June 27, 2017 

Integrating racial equity into the plan for growth in communities increases the likelihood that benefits and burdens will be equitably distributed. We must plan for people and our environment. Land use policies drive the creation of communities, and housing, parks and transportation are all critical for creating equitable communities. This session continued exploring ways to use a Racial Equity Analysis in comprehensive planning. Local experts provided insights on effective principles and practices for engaging communities for the process. Panel representatives were from:

Planning for the Environment - Resilience as Racial Equity

Sponsored by PlanIt and the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE)
Thursday, July 27, 2017 

The comprehensive planning process encourages planning for climate change as part of your plan update.  Environmental resiliency is having the capacity to respond, adapt, and thrive under changing conditions. Resiliency includes planning for more severe weather and prolonged heatwaves, for improved health of your residents, and planning for economic strength and diversity. Achieving resiliency requires a plan of action and resources to mitigate the impacts on infrastructure (e.g. – increasing drainage capacity to accommodate increased heavy rain events). It also requires a plan of action to address the societal and economic challenges. Communities of color have traditionally been marginalized - race plays a key role in determining your quality of health, environmental safety, income and well-being.  They frequently bear a disproportionate share of the burden of environmental degradation and are more vulnerable to climate change impact. This session strengthened community’s ability to prepare and respond to climate impacts for all residents using examples that show how using racial equity tools reduce the impact of climate change and increase opportunity for greater community health.


Mississippi River Planning in Your Comprehensive Plan

Presented by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) is a land corridor along the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities metro area that contains many significant resources including scenic views, land and water recreational opportunities, and animal habitat. The MRCCA is also home to a full range of neighborhoods, parks, and river-related commerce, industry and transportation. Protecting these resources while planning for growth and economic development requires careful planning by the 21 cities, four townships, and five counties in the MRCCA. New state rules adopted in January 2017 lay out the planning framework for communities in the MRCCA. At this workshop, participants will learn about MRCCA plan requirements and how they support new MRCCA ordinance requirements. Participants will also learn how to complete the MRCCA plan chapter of their comprehensive plan update with a special focus on identifying and mapping significant existing vegetation, scenic views and restoration opportunities.

Community Engagement

Critical Conversations for Authentic Connections
Friday, August 18, 2017 

Community engagement practitioners agree that there are no shortcuts to making real connections with stakeholders; It’s a long-term endeavor. In this workshop, participants reviewed actual scenarios that occurred between planners and residents, and have the opportunity to dialogue about engagement challenges. Check out the presentation slides and case studies discussed with responses. Engagement specialists were also available to lend clarity to the process:

  • Jack Becker, Community Services Director, Forecast Public Art, is partnering with the American Planning Association (APA) to develop the Public Art and Placemaking Tool for City Planners. Jack’s work includes a project with five Minnesota communities to advance public art as a placemaking approach. More about Jack
  • Caty Royce, Executive Director, Frogtown Neighborhood Association, led a ground-breaking planning process at the neighborhood level that involved art and artists which resulted in strong resident input. Frogtown’s Smapl (Small Area Plan) is comprehensive 10-year vision for the neighborhood. More about Caty
  • Kate Khaled, Managing Director, Imagine/Deliver, is highly skilled in bringing together traditionally oppositional stakeholders to solve a problem in unison. Core to her strategy is leveraging universal and human centered methodologies that stimulate authentic community engagement. More about Kate
  • Avi Viswanathan, Program Director, NEXUS Community Engagement Institute (CEI), leads the pioneering CEI which works to strengthen communities through the advancement of equity-based community engagement. The institute is a learning, practice, and leadership center designed for individuals, organizations and institutions from across the country. More about Avi

Building 21st Century Suburbs

Presented by the MetroTransit TOD Office
Thursday, August 24, 2017

In the second half of the 20th century, walkable and mixed-use “streetcar suburbs” were increasingly overshadowed and sometimes replaced by suburbs that were primarily auto-dominated. In the early 21st century, this trend has come into question, and communities of all kinds in the Twin Cities metro are attempting a revival of walkable, mixed-use suburban development. Whether it is a town center built from scratch, a repurposed shopping mall, or the expansion of a historic main street, these developments represent a departure from the suburban development patterns of past decades.

Participant heard experts from the development community discuss why they have invested in walkable, mixed-use developments, where they see the suburban development market headed, and how cities and developers can work together to create the kinds of places that will be in demand in the 21st century. Moderated by Bruce Carlson of Westwood Professional Services, our panel included:

  • Jaci Bell, Director of Development at Kraus Anderson
  • George Sherman, President of Sherman Associates
  • David Wellington, Director of Acquisitions and Development at Wellington Management
  • Kersten Elverum, Director of Planning and Development, City of Hopkins
  • Tim Gladhill, Community Development Director, City of Ramsey
  • Bob Streetar, Community Development Director, City of Oakdale

Water Management Tools: Going Beyond the Comprehensive Plan

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

There are a variety of approaches communities can take to go above and beyond their minimum comprehensive plan requirements to implement sustainable water resources strategies. This workshop explored water management activities which can provide multiple benefits in communities. The event showcased local examples of integrated water management strategies, such as stormwater best management practices that also protect source water. Attendees left with tools they can use, such as model ordinances as well as information about current grant opportunities and stronger partnerships for doing the work. 

Comprehensive Plan Implementation - Communicating about Race & Equity

Sponsored by PlanIt and the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE)
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Comprehensive plans that achieve results devote significant attention to implementation. Details on project timelines, coordination of staff and contractor schedules, capital improvement budgeting, alignment with statutory and agency guidelines (e.g. Housing Development Plans and Flexible Development Guidelines) are important for achieving success.
Effectively incorporating a racial equity analysis and racial equity community outcomes requires moving beyond measuring disproportionalities. We must also set goals and measure our progress at achieving community measures health/well-being (i.e. – results). As part of undertaking this work, we must communicate how incorporating racial equity into comprehensive plans benefits all Minnesotans to build broad community support and buy-in. During this session, participants explored how to effectively make a case for racial equity in their comprehensive planning work using GARE communication tools. 

Facilitated by Gordon Goodwin and Dennis Chin, GARE and Center for Social Inclusion/Race Forward

Planning for Manufacturing

A Mobile Tour Discussion 
Thursday, October 5, 2017

This mobile tour provided an opportunity for local planners to have a conversation with manufacturing facility owners to discuss in depth challenges and opportunities that are seen within the ever-evolving manufacturing industry. Planners  toured two facilities within the metro (Graco in Minneapolis and Hartfiel in Eden Prairie) and learned about ways in which they can enhance their ability to form partnerships, gain further understanding of the needs of manufacturers, the site selection process, changes in technology and facility needs, and what planners can do to attract manufacturing businesses in terms of city processes, development review and standards, and the importance of location of industrial uses to transportation, freight, workers, and future expansion. This mobile tour occured during Manufacturer’s Week and National Community Planning Month. 

How to Address Climate Vulnerability in Your Community

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Minnesota is facing the challenge of a rapidly changing climate. Local approaches to assessing climate vulnerability can identify sensitivity of communities/systems to climate change impacts and provide strategies for mitigation and adaption. With the current comprehensive planning process in full swing, this workshop provided an opportunity for a policy-driving approach to this work. Check out the presentation slides, report of the workshop's content prepared by St. Thomas University students, and a factsheet on How to Address Climate Vulnerability in Your Community

  • Acquire policy and implementation strategies for climate assessment work
  • Obtain a greater understanding of the importance of community engagement for building climate resilience
  • Get started, get unstuck, and take your project to the next level through facilitated strategy development
  • Learn about the vital components for vulnerability assessments - communication, resource capacity, and data use
  • Take a tour of innovative stormwater projects to inspire on-the-ground implementation of resilience practices in your community
  • Embrace networking and benchmarking opportunities

Continuing the Comprehensive Plan Conversation

Community Working Committees 
Friday, December 1, 2017

It’s time to forget the old ways of community engagement and focus on a new opportunity to put stakeholders to work! What happens after the comprehensive plan is adopted? How can communities sustain the important relationships that were built during this process? This innovative hands-on working committee approach established: relationships, trust, ownership, and project buy-in. Stakeholders collaborate to research, develop, and map project ideas, concepts and recommendations. Working committees can prepare your community for continuing the conversation, build and sustain relationships, and a new community foundation. Facilitated by Todd Streeter, Principal of Community Collaboration

  • New innovations in community engagement and how to establish working committees.
  • Multiple ways to engage community members after the comprehensive plan is adopted.
  • The roles of government, residents, business owners, developers, and planners in the successful production of meaningful engagement opportunities.
  • Planning implementation and economic development strategies after the comprehensive plan is adopted.
  • Panel discussion with City officials using this process demonstrate the success of these innovative community engagement strategies.
  • See a list of speakers

Solar Energy Systems

Planning for Solar Energy Systems in our Communities
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The opportunities for communities to develop and catalyze the development of solar energy as a natural resource have never been richer. In the last 5 years alone, prices for solar energy systems have fallen by 55%. Thanks to the diligent work of government, academic, non-profit, and private institutions, our communities have a bevy of solar development options available to them. The Twin Cities Metro has more freely available solar technical, policy, finance, and planning resources than almost any other metro in the nation. Participants learned the ways in which every community type in the Twin Cities Metro already has the ability and resources needed to plan for solar in a local, value-adding manner. Facilitated by Cameran Bailey, Solar Advisor to the Metropolitan Council and the SolSmart Program, with 5 years of experience in renewable energy policy, planning, management, and engineering. Check out the presentation slides