South Bend City Plan Solutions Forums

How do you enable 1,000 people to write a city’s plan?  Not just give feedback or throw around ideas, but create the recommendations themselves?  South Bend, Indiana, committed to finding a solution to this challenge as part of its CityPlan process…. and like most things that are worth it, this one wasn’t easy.  Della Rucker let a multi-firm team that developed and implemented the methods that the city needed to meet this ambitious goal… and do it without losing control.

The ten Solutions Forums created random small groups of attendees and walked participants through a structured, cooperative process.  Each group of community members had the task of identifying and developing potential solutions to the City’s previously-identified challenges, a process that resulted in thousands of separate recommendations.  Participants used a Solutions Matrix to work out potential strategies for addressing tough issues, including what agency or organization should lead it and how it should be paid for.  They also used  large maps and a keyed set of icon stickers and markers to indicate where in the city certain development and preservation efforts were needed.

The results of the Solutions Forums were compiled in a detailed report that helped form the framework for City Plan.

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