On October 6, 2011, more than 210 Chapel Hill community members gathered at the East Chapel Hill High School Auditorium to review and react to the compilation of ideas from the September 27 meeting.
Until 7:30, meeting attendees mingled and viewed word clouds and statements of six thematic areas, four vision statements, and five principles that will shape the work of committees going forward. They picked up their ‘clickers’ for voting and moved into the auditorium.
At 7:35, Mayor Pro Tem, Jim Ward, welcomed the crowd and thanked them for attendance. He specified the purpose of the meeting was to let staff know whether they had properly captured the ideas from the first meeting. Fundamentally, the process will include input from a diverse group of ages, races, ethnicity, and backgrounds.
Following Jim’s welcome, George Cianciolo provided background on the project to date. He emphasized that everything posted on display is a draft and open to community feedback both through this blog, the Town of Chapel Hill website, and via feedback forms.
Rosemary Waldorf then introduced the individuals who will be eventually be theme group leaders, people who represent a broad cross section of the community. She also gave everyone a quick overview of the evening’s purpose – to check in on how well the draft statements reflected the discussions on the 27th – and the importance of moving this information forward into the key theme groups where content and depth will be added.
George then announced the next opportunity for input on October 22, from 11 AM – 3 PM, at University Mall. The event will be a community open house, coinciding with the opening of the Chapel Hill Public Library temporary location in University Mall. He also introduced the facilitator for the evening, John Stephens, professor at the University of North Carolina School of Government.
John walked the audience through the voting on draft visions and theme, which was interesting – and the results will be posted here shortly so you can see for yourself. However, as people expressed their levels of support – ranging from “I fully support” to “I have significant concerns, and do not support” – there was no way to hear exactly which part of a vision or theme people did or did not support. After the voting, everyone moved out to the lobby to write down their suggestions, new phrases, or ideas that they didn’t think were fully covered.
Participants were able to place post-it notes onto large printouts of the visions and themes and sign up for theme group committees. The key theme groups will beging working on October 27th, at 4:30 pm. Check the schedule for details.
We’ll continue to gather comments here, through our outreach efforts and bring new information to our first community open house, October 22, 2011, 11 AM – 3 PM at University Mall.
If you didn’t get a chance to join us, you can click here to take survey.
Things have been churning since we last met and tomorrow evening, between 7 and 9 pm, the East Chapel Hill High auditorium is your destination to check in and let us know how well you think the facilitators and staff have captured your input from the 27th.
We hope you’ll join us tomorrow to give us your reactions, but if you can’t, never fear. We’ll have more opportunities to hear from you here, through a survey (coming soon), or maybe you want to come to the community open house on October 22nd at University Mall, by the new library location, and talk to us then!
So, here’s some food for thought to get you going. What do you think?
1. Draft Vision Statements
A: “Chapel Hill will be a vibrant, connected community, a town that is accessible, affordable, sustainable, and strong. Citizens of Chapel Hill will treasure their downtown, their diversity, and their university; they will enjoy the benefits of balanced development, a quality transportation system, green housing, and healthy neighborhoods.”
B: “Chapel Hill will be a destination location. Balancing growth, density, and the environment, it will feature collaboration between the university, the town, developers and the community. It will encourage integration of students into community, and build bridges between cultures, and neighborhoods through art. Chapel Hill will be a town that is truly green.”
C: “Chapel Hill will be a bright, dynamic community that celebrates diverse populations. It will accumulate and retain intellectual, entrepreneurial, and artistic capital. Valuing its heritage while building regional partnerships, Chapel Hill will be a compact, accessible, mixed-use place of opportunity with a high quality of life.”
D: “Chapel Hill will be the best college town in America. We will integrate the aspirations of the University and its students into our community life. We will build social and physical bridges among cultures and neighborhoods. Through wise and collaborative use of resources, we will strive for an affordable and sustainable community life. We will safeguard our heritage while building a diverse tax base and regional partnerships for a prosperous future. We will be safe for all, connected, economically sound, and innovative.”
2. Draft Themes
Good places and new spaces: Downtown & Development (special places, downtown district, housing, development, protecting existing assets, neighborhoods)
Town & Gown: Learning and innovation (a center of medicine and health care, life-long learning, using intellectual/financial capital, re-thinking the status quo)
Getting Around: Transportation (transportation of all forms)
Community prosperity and engagement: Fiscal Sustainability (affordability, economic development, neighborhoods, services delivery)
Cultural & Artistic Vibrancy (arts, creativity, tourism, celebrations, special events, inclusion)
Nurturing our community: environmental sustainability (our natural environment, open spaces, solid waste, recycling, parks, greenways, rural buffer)
A place for everyone: public safety & diversity (youth, teens, safe places, a welcoming community) Our Dynamic Region: (regional assets, partnerships, potential for shared success)
3. The Principles Each work group should address how their plan supports
- Protecting and celebrating our natural assets
- Creating opportunities for social exchange and community capital
- Strengthening our physical infrastructure
- Encouraging sustainable practices and a diversified tax base
- Supporting safe and healthy lifestyles
4. The practical framework Each work group would also frame their work around these two guiding questions:
- How will our input inform policy decisions by elected officials?
- How will our input inform planning and implementation by the city manager and staff?
With the help of a good intern, we took the words and ideas from the papers and put them in a spreadsheet. We took that data and used Wordle, a web based tool for generating word clouds, to create this image. Word clouds are used to quickly indicate the most commonly used words in a block of text – the bigger the word, the more frequently it was used.
Each table has their own word cloud (the smaller ones). The 200 most frequently recorded words from all tables are in the larger cloud in the center.
There are many ways to think about words, ideas, and data. This is just one – what do you think?
Keren Goldshlager, Journalism Student at the University of North Carolina
An international student adamant about the University’s potential. A middle-aged woman dedicated to improving the town’s emergency response system. A storm water management employee passionate about environmental protection. A business owner determined to increase voter turnout in local elections.
These are just a few examples of the more than 300 residents that attended the kick-off of Chapel Hill 2020 last night. These people had different opinions to share, but they had one thing in common: a love for Chapel Hill.
The voices of these citizens will form the backbone of the new comprehensive plan. Town officials hope to make the planning process far more participatory and community-based than it has ever been. In fact, the mayor has said that he wants to get 10,000 people involved. Based on last night, I think his goal will be achieved.
The kick-off had two parts: an open house and a meeting. At the meeting, groups of about ten sat at tables and discussed what they thought the key themes of the plan should be. At the end of the night, leaders – called “facilitators” – shared the main ideas that their groups discussed.
As I circled the packed auditorium and zigzagged up and down the rows of tables, I realized just how much goes into creating a plan of this scope. While one group discussed affordable housing, another talked about cultivating creativity. As one table emphasized Chapel Hill’s need for economic growth, another table was gushing about the town’s quaint atmosphere. I heard about the University. I heard about expanding the tax base. I heard about just about everything.
The most interesting part of the experience was seeing people from all walks of life participating as equals. There were businessmen in button-downs quietly listening to the opinions of librarians in wide-rimmed glasses. There were town council members in t-shirts passively taking notes as small-business owners took charge of group discussions. I was enthusiastically welcomed to every table I wandered up to, even though I’m only a lowly junior at UNC.
All in all, I think the night was a success, although I’m interested to see how the dozens of themes that were discussed can possibly be narrowed down to a six key issues. How do you prioritize so many competing interests? The leaders of this plan definitely have their work cut out for them – but so do we.
Here is an Excel spreadsheet with the raw data from the Sept 27 2020 Kickoff Meeting. Each tab shows the input recorded at each table. Town staff and the facilitators are using this information to pull out some themes so check back later this week.
On October 6th, you’ll have a chance to help us identify the key themes and sign up for a work group.
Wow! Thanks to the hundreds of people who showed up at East Chapel Hill High last night to kick-off Chapel Hill 2020 – what a great crowd! The open house was great. People gathered around to hear what’s happening in Chapel Hill, grabbed a snack from the PTA table and met their neighbors.
By 6 o’clock, the commons was packed full and the fire chief counted over 375 people ready to get down to ideas for Chapel Hill’s vision and themes to make that vision real. The discussion were energetic (some groups even took it outside!) and people began putting pen to paper:
We’re kicking off Chapel Hill 2020 tomorrow at East Chapel Hill High (500 Weaver Dairy Road) and it’s amazing what’s coming together! While we get the tables set up and sharpen our pencils, we wanted to let you in on a few of the details:
- The agenda has been posted!
- Food will be available for purchase, thanks to the East Chapel Hill High PTA
- Child care for children ages 5 and over will be available, thanks to the YMCA Teen Leaders’ Club
Do you know someone who can’t make it? Or someone who wants to be involved? Send them over to www.chapelhill2020.org to learn more.
If you know people who want to learn more but can’t make the meeting, they can drop us an email email@example.com and we’ll come to them!