NCI wrapped up a successful 5-day charrette in Norman, Oklahoma last week. The charrette charted the vision for the city center of Norman that will lead to a new form based code. NCI led the charrette team that included Opticos, Ferrell Madden and Alta Planning.
Six weeks prior to the charrette, the team interviewed over 60 people in 5 hours. The interviewees were grouped by similar viewpoints, such as downtown business owners, residents and faith-based groups. Without the presence of city staff in the room and the promise that names would not be attributed to comments, people could speak freely among their peers. These interviews provided multiple benefits for the upcoming charrette. The process of listening to people before starting design was the first step in establishing an atmosphere of trust in this contentious political environment. The interviews also provided the charrette team with a quick in-depth knowledge of the people, positions and issues.
In conjunction with the interviews, NCI conducted a public project kick-off meeting. This meeting was a chance for everyone to share his or her viewpoint with the charrette team, again before the start of design. Participants engaged in a series of exercises including photo preferences surveys and input on strong places/weak places. The combination of the interviews and the public meeting succeeded in calming the community’s expectations about the upcoming charrette and gaining their commitment to participate.
For more information on these tools, confidential interviews and public meeting tools are described in the new second edition of The Charrette Handbook and are taught in the NCI Charrette System™ Certificate Trainings.