Hundreds of People Helped us Kick-off Chapel Hill 2020!

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.

Learning About Greenways

Learning About Greenways


Meeting Our 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:

Brainstorming the Vision for 2020


Table 1's Vision for 2020


Table 5's Vision for 2020


Brainstorming the Vision


Table 8's Vision for 2020

Around 7:30, we heard what a few of the groups were up to – and it was interesting how many of the same themes and visions came out of the different tables:  sustainable, vibrant, interesting and welcoming – well, we’ll get everything summarized soon so you can read it all here yourself! 
Reading Some of the Results
As one table summed it up, “Chapel Hill is a small town with a big footprint!”   We’re looking forward to keeping this going, so please come back on October 6th!
If you didn’t get a chance to join us, comment here and let us know what you would have said!

2020 Begins Tomorrow!

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 to learn more.

If you know people who want to learn more but can’t make the meeting, they can drop us an email and we’ll come to them!

Chapel Hill 2020 Kicks Off!

Keren Goldshlager, Journalism Student at the University of North Carolina

Each decade, Chapel Hill officials create a comprehensive plan for the town that guides policy making in areas such as land use and transportation.

But this time around, there is one important addition to the plan: you.

Although the kick-off date is still two weeks away, an initiating committee has been meeting since May to set the framework for a plan that will hinge upon citizen involvement and participation. They have named the plan Chapel Hill 2020 to emphasize its visionary approach.

The committee’s 15 members were appointed by the Town Council and were chosen for their involvement and diversity. The group included a social worker, the operations manager of an affordable housing nonprofit organization, the chair of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority, a Duke physician and more.

Lee Storrow, a recent UNC graduate and candidate for Town Council, was a committee member.

“There were lots of new faces and new voices on the committee,” he said, “specifically because we’re hoping to bring new faces and new voices into the comprehensive plan.”

Chapel Hill officials hope that these new faces and new voices will bring life to the project – but they are well aware of the challenges they face in trying to engage an entire community.

“The hardest part is finding out how to connect with all of the residents, and not just the ones who read the paper and know about this,” said Kathy Atwater, a Northside resident and initiating committee member.

That’s why the committee partnered with two facilitators, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and the National Civic League (NCL), to help develop strategies for promoting civic engagement.

“These groups were very instrumental in starting the initiating committee because they had worked with other towns and other cities across the nation with their future plans,” said Atwater.

Atwater was inspired to take part in the comprehensive plan because of her interest in affordable housing.

“I would like to see more zoning regulations as far as housing, and more housing for people who want to live in Chapel Hill but say they can’t afford to,” she said.

In addition to housing, Chapel Hill 2020 will encompass transportation, downtown businesses, sustainability, land use, environmental justice and any other topics that residents deem important.

“We really want to make sure that this vision is inclusive of all the opinions and all the experiences of the diverse group of people who live here,” said committee member Allisson DeMarco.

DeMarco, who has a background in social work, was especially interested in involving low-income families and immigrants.

To encourage this involvement, the initiating committee decided to host meetings at schools rather than in town hall.

Mary Jane Nirdlinger, assistant director of the town’s planning department, said she thinks that these meetings will allow the project to touch everyday residents who may not attend government-sponsored events.

“If you really want to touch 10,000 people,” she said, “you need to do it in all kinds of ways.”

In addition to meetings, the initiating committee planned a series of open houses, at which Chapel Hill residents will be able to meet, mingle and share.

The open houses will be both fun and informative, and will be centrally located said Nirdlinger. A family-focused open house and a job-themed open house are already in the works, she added.

The committee was also tasked with appointing two chairs – Rosemary Waldorf and George Cianciolo – to guide the development of the comprehensive plan. These co-chairs will also act as spokespeople for the project.

Cianciolo is a pathologist at the Duke University Medical Center, and Waldorf is the project manager of a local community-building company. Waldorf also served as mayor of Chapel Hill from 1995 to 2001.

Although the work of the initiating committee is over, the overall project has barely begun. The first public meeting will be held on September 27 at East Chapel Hill High School, and all residents are invited to attend.

“I encourage all residents to attend the meeting to get an overview of what this plan will entail,” said Atwater. “Now is our opportunity.”