Envisioning Centers: A planning and implementation process for smaller areas
What is the tool?
Envisioning Centers is a planning and implementation process for smaller areas. The creation of the tool was an effort conceptualized and led by Envision Utah. It’s purpose is to synthesize the use of the Wasatch Choice for 2040 tools, establishing a guided process for communities to plan using a thorough scenario planning process.
The tool outlines and illustrates a scenario planning process that enables a community to explore a range of options and weigh the associated benefits and challenges. While developed especially with areas near transit stations in mind, the Envisioning Centers process is useful for any community planning effort, particularly those in which walkability and ease of access to housing, jobs, and services is desired. It is intended to be adapted as is best for individual communities.
What is the objective?
Envisioning Centers is a process that guides small areas from visioning to implementation and action. Communities are able to involve citizens and other leaders in a collaborative effort to determine their collective future. It integrates the tools together in a way that allows plans to go from creation, cost/ benefit analysis, public review, implementation, and finally performance measurement.
Who would benefit?
Local planners seeking a streamlined scenario planning process with a guide to implementation and progress measures.
Envisioning Centers was designed to be both useful and user friendly, as well as customizable. The tool guides a user from creating a framework for the process which they are looking to undergo to visioning, implementing, and measuring progress. It suggests appropriate tools for each step in the progress as well as best practices. The envisioning centers approach to scenario planning can be the key local planning efforts need to go from conceptualization to implementation.
What does the tool require?
The Implementing Centers tool is free. Under the Wasatch Choice for 2040 vision, this tool was created to be a free resource for communities. Internet access is required to use the Envisioning Centers tool.
1: Create the Framework for Your Process
Take the time to set up for your process. Clearly identifying core issues and concerns, getting the right people involved, and creating strategies for scoping, funding and community engagement will enable a smooth, outcome-oriented process.
2: Set Up for Scenario Planning
Scenario planning allows your community to explore and test a range of choices for the future. The Envisioning Centers process incorporates the use of ArcGIS, a land use modeling tool called Envision Tomorrow +, and a web-based, real-time street design tool called StreetPlan. Envision Tomorrow + allows you to not only evaluate scenarios but also to conduct significant upfront analysis and late-process analysis for implementation options. This step includes gathering your data and setting up Envision Tomorrow +. StreetPlan allows you to quickly investigate and illustrate street design options using a drag and drop cross-section builder, best-practice advice, and soon other functionality such as the ability to draw on aerial photos in Google Earth. StreetPlan graphic tools may be used with our without set up or data. However, StreetPlan advice and reports require context information which will need to be gathered in this step of the process.
3: Evaluate Where You Are Today
Before embarking on scenario planning, take time to understand the context, both regionally and locally, for your work. Explore both existing conditions and plans for the future, looking for both potential challenges and opportunities related to your planning effort.
4: Evaluate What Happens if We Stay on Our Current Path
As you gain an understanding of your planning context, it’s also helpful to explore where you may be headed given recent trends and current policy. This step includes creating a baseline, or “business as usual” scenario that carries trends forward into the future and measures potential impacts. Alternative scenarios and there impacts can then be compared to the baseline.
5: Envision with the Community and Stakeholders
Envisioning processes and their outcomes should include and serve community residents and stakeholders, including those who may be traditionally underrepresented or underserved. This step is likely a series of multiple events or ways of sharing information and gathering ideas. StreetPlan's graphic tools provide an easy way for a group to explore various street design options and their ramifications.
6: Create Alternative Scenarios
Using what you have learned about your region, your community, your site, and the preferences and hopes of community residents and stakeholders, you can use ArcGIS, Envision Tomorrow +, and and the design guidance and reporting utility of StreetPlan to create and evaluate alternative scenarios. This is an opportunity to experiment and learn with your stakeholder group, exploring a range of options that capture ideas from your stakeholders and the public, and are informed by your prior analysis and research.
7: Share Scenarios with the Community and Stakeholders; Get Feedback.
Because envisioning processes and their outcomes should include and serve community residents and stakeholders, including those who may be traditionally underrepresented or underserved, share both the baseline scenario and alternative scenarios developed from community input and get feedback. This step is likely a series of multiple events or ways of sharing information and gathering ideas.
8: Create and Share the Vision
After stakeholders and the pubic have had an opportunity to examine the scenarios and associated impacts and express their preferences, you can work with your stakeholder group to create a vision that reflects community values and goals. While the vision is often initially shared at a large community event, it can be celebrated and shared over time as its components are implemented.
9: Implement the Vision
Stakeholders involved in your visioning effort should include those most able to implement it. In Envisioning for TOD efforts, implementing stakeholders may include policymakers, developers, and nonprofits working in the area, as well as those involved in regional initiatives that impact local communities (i.e. transportation systems, economic development planning, etc.). In this step, stakeholders work together to develop a viable implementation framework and act on it.
10: Measure Progress
Progress indicators may be very similar to the evaluation criteria that were applied to the scenarios in earlier steps. They should measure ongoing progress toward achieving the objectives outlined in the vision. This step should also include identifying a mechanism for long-term accountability.