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Community Guide to Conducting a Successful Charrette

Walkable Communities, Inc., is pleased to provide this guide for 5-day charrettes to assist your community in creating visions or plans. Charrettes can be planned for any length of time, from one day to two weeks. More complex and significant projects require at least 5-day programs to bring the strong, positive outcomes expected. The Walkable Communities, Inc. consultant staff will work with your local community leaders staff to create strong, common visions that will be useful in developing corridors, village centers, or community plans. This guide includes the following sections: Introduction, Charrette Participants, Suggested Schedule, Scope of Services, Budget, Other Services and the principle Walkable Communities charrette team members.

Part One - Introduction

What is a Charrette? A charrette-style workshop is a visually engaging, interactive, and collaborative series of public workshops, focus groups, field condition inventories and design sessions. It offers opportunities for friendly, informal discourse and debate among community citizens, and the process achieves workable visions and solutions for specific neighborhoods or a whole community. Town building charrettes require a minimum of five days. Preferably they include seven days of work product development. Shorter length charrettes may be used for easily addressed issues.

Charrettes Build Ongoing Support for Community Development. A further intent of the charrette-style workshop process is the development of a cadre of citizens and business leaders who learn ways of supporting long-term town building. A sense of ownership in neighborhood and town development evolves from most charrettes.

Charrette Products. Charrettes can be used for anything from reaching consensus on long-term visions for town development, to finding workable agreements on single projects. Charrettes identify short-term and long-term problems and issues, that are important to residents and business leaders. Charrettes also identify opportunities and needs. They turn town planning from a reactive to a pro-active process. Charrettes build both immediate and long-term solutions. Participants usually require an immediate result. Short-term steps are outlined as part of the work product. Implementation strategies are also suggested. Policies and principles are established for future decision making and town development. For charrettes to be successful, everyone taking part must be active and listen to the concerns and issues of others. The community, as a whole, comes first. Project recommendations must be based on seeking outcomes that improve conditions for the greatest number of people and provide for the long-term health of the community.

Some short-term losses or inconveniences by individuals must be anticipated, if long-term growth and development is to occur. The charrette process combined with other, local, follow-up actions will lead to more successful decisions and a healthier community.

Principles Applied To Decision Making. Walkable Communities, Inc. offers technical aid and process assistance to create a common community vision. Such a vision should help resolve key land preservation, community development, economic health and transportation systems management issues. The outside assistance will work best if a broad group of people and interest groups take part. Each group and individual must agree to work together to reach a workable, collaborative and meaningful community vision.

In summary, here are some essential principles on how to proceed:

(1) All visions are based on 20-year, future outcomes.
(2) Vision comes before planning.
(3) All groups need to be part of the visioning process.
(4) All citizens and residents will be impacted by these decisions.
(5) Pro-active planning needs to take place before anything is built.
(6) Reactive planning is futile and leads to muddled, senseless places and unhappy people.
(7) Every business and every citizen of every age and ability is considered in the outcome.

Organizing the Children’s Charrette. A number of charrette activities tap into the unique abilities of children. Walkable Communities teams like to include children, because they are the ones who will benefit most from successful charrettes and community visions. Children have insights that adults often lack, and their visions and summary reports and to the adults sometimes help consensus building on issues that can be mired in self-interest. You will need to make arrangements (time and place) for activities with the town’s children. Here are some suggested activities and steps.

  1. Third or Fourth Grade Classroom Activity - Please make arrangements in advance for two of our team members to meet with children for a 40-50 minute activity. A classroom setting is ideal. The teacher should be present. We will be asking the children how they got to school that day, asking them why walking and bicycling are important to them, and asking them what could done to make walking better in their town. We will also ask the children to take paper and markers (or crayons) and draw maps from their homes to school. We discuss the results of this brief session at the end of the charrette.
  2. Eighth Grade Classroom Activity - Please make arrangements in advance for two of our team members to meet with children for a 40-60 minute activity. We will need to organize the class into groups at tables with 4-6 students per table. Large 1:100 scale maps of town, tracing paper and marking pens are needed. We will ask students to give us their advice on where parks, trails, stores, and new public buildings and facilities should be located and to summarize their ideas on map overlays of town.
  3. Children’s Mini-Charrette - Please arrange through several local churches, parks and recreation or other community programs to recruit 15-25 children that can work on more extensive town development projects. Children will be interviewed, assigned to small work groups according to age. They will help map the town of their dreams. The children will present their findings to the adults on the evening of day five of the charrette. We will need to recruit one or more adults who work with Parks and Recreation or church groups to be present to assist with the program. One or two of our staff will oversee this mini-charrette.

Part II Charrette Participants and Suggested Schedule

Recommended Participants. The sponsoring community must do most of the lead work and most or all of the follow-up work to a charrette. The charrette staff, like doctors, are there to identify symptoms and opportunities. Experience has shown that knowledge of local conditions and needs and the spirit and passion to create better communities, already exist in the towns that we assist. Our role, as facilitators, is to tap into the wealth of local knowledge, to remind people that they know best what to do, and to give them the courage to move forward. Successful charrette plans or visions require a "buy-in" from all players in the community. Here are some suggested interest groups to include and involve.

We urge communities to invite additional local talent.

Local Design Team Volunteers. We urge local citizens to join the team. These people must have talent and time and be willing to work on products such as renderings, drawings and sketches to help create community vision. If you have other consultants, such as transportation or environmental engineers, planners or development staff, who you wish to be trained or gain experience from the input of citizens and work groups, they are welcome to join the charrette design team as volunteers. With past charrettes we have found the people from the following professions willing to contribute time to the charrette process:

Common Charrette Participants. This list is not exhaustive. Please add to it and attempt to get the broadest representation of folks to take part in one or more sessions:

  • Town/City/County Staff
  • Local Merchants/and or Chamber of Commerce
  • Downtown Merchants' Associations
  • Other Business Leaders Manufacturers, Distributors, Other Related Businesses
  • Neighborhood Associations
  • Economic Development Groups
  • Conservation & Environmental Organizations
  • School & Youth Organizations
  • Bicycle, Walking, Other Outdoor Organizations
  • Health & Fitness Organizations
  • Civic & Garden Clubs
  • City Council & County Commissioners
  • Planning Commissioners
  • Emergency Responders
  • Church Leaders and Social Workers
  • Groups representing people with disabilities
  • Neighborhood Leaders
  • Regional Transportation Representatives (including area MPO)

In some cases prominent leaders or staff from nearby communities, who need to working with your community on regional issues, can benefit from participation in the charrette. This benefit is especially true on key economic and transportation issues. Be sure to invite those people you feel you will want to work with most in the future.

Note: Would the community like us to make presentations to local civic clubs during our stay? We could ask for problem identification from these groups and possibly distribute a survey form at these meetings. If you are interested, please schedule presentations.

Proposed Schedule of Activities

This schedule will be modified, based on your needs. Please make changes and publish widely for the greatest level of participation.

Travel Day

Arrival of out-of-state team from noon to 6:00 p.m. at airport, share a rental car and drive to lodging

Day One

7:30 am Team Organizational Meeting
8:30 am First Focus Group Meeting with community staff and political leaders

First 45 minutes: Common Session & general discussion on desired outcomes of charrette
Second 60 minutes: Breakouts for Individual Topics

Group One: Community and Economic Development
Group Two: Transportation

Third 60 minutes: Breakouts for Individual Topics

Group One: Downtown Development
Group Two: Neighborhood Development

12:00 Lunch with Chamber of Commerce or business leaders (can be box lunches, or deli platter)
1:30 pm Second Focus Group Meeting with emergency responders, police, sheriff staff, fire & ambulance personnel
2:30 pm Third Focus Group Meeting with Schools: school administrators, school transportation director, PTA/PTO organizations, school board, safe kids coalition, local safety council.
3:30 pm Focus Group Session with Local Retailers
4:30 pm Preparation for Evening Workshop
7:00 pm Evening Workshop - Local Sponsor provides refreshments

Day Two
7:30 am Staff Briefing
8:30-10:00 am Field Trip (please arrange bus transportation for number you anticipate participating)
10:00 am Break
10:15 am Technical Briefing and Brainstorming for Community
12:00-1:00 pm Box Lunch, catered for team only. Set up design work tables - requires a table for each group of eight (generally 30-90 citizens take part in this design session). Assign design team facilitators and coordinate work
1:15-5:00 pm Table Design Workshops for community
1:15 – 4:30 Children’s Charrette for community design
4:30 – 5:30 Presentations to entire group
5:00 - 5:30 pm Briefing with community staff

Day Three
7:30-8:30 am Consultant Team Briefing
9:00 am Consultant Design Team works on report of findings

Day Four
7:30-8:30 am Consultant Team Briefing
9:00 am Design Team continues work with staff and other professional volunteers

Day Five
8:00 am Design Team continues work to complete report
2:00 pm Staff briefing
7:00-8:30 pm Final Charrette Presentation with community response and fine tuning. Local Sponsor to provide refreshments
9:00 pm Debriefing with community staff
End of Charrette


Part III Scope of Services, Budget, Other Services

Scope of Services. Walkable Communities will provide the following services and work products. All work will be completed during the charrette. Follow-up work is available at added cost. The following six elements will be included in the quoted price.

Focus Group Sessions. Walkable Communities, Inc. will conduct 4-8 focus group sessions (60-90 minutes each). Please see the agenda and consider adding any of these groups as representatives:

2. Visual Preference Survey. The Walkable Communities, Inc. team will create, score and print a visual preference survey to set a working image for basic community building blocks. Participants will be asked to score 10-18 elements that will help develop a town code. Residents will have an opportunity to score key images during the work sessions or informally at the library during the week. Children will also be asked to score their preferences. Based on community interest, further focus group visioning sessions will be held. Four to six options per topic will be included. At least 50% of images will be from the Pacific Northwest, with many images from towns of similar size and scale.

Key Elements for Scoring include:

3. Open Community Forum. Provide open forum on day one, continued on day two.

Design Workshop. Provide design workshop (day two).

Community Development Training. Walkable Communities, Inc. will provide 3-6 training sessions (one or two topics per evening; concurrent sessions possible). These training courses are important implementation steps. Ownership of the results of the charrette will be enhanced through training sessions. We will add these topics if you schedule the training.

Staff and Elected Leader Briefings. In order to assure coordination and success of the charrette, the principal facilitator, or his assistant, will provide staff and elected leadership briefing sessions:

Work Products to be Delivered at End of Charrette. In addition to the above activities the following will be provided:

Any other services, such as follow-up writing of town code, or other assistance must be arranged for additional fees. This arrangement for added services can be made at any time.

Services, Facilities and Products to be Provided by Community:

- Building for community involvement workshops with 125-200 seats in one room. This room needs to be fully darkened for presentations (i.e. Armory, large assembly hall, church, high school, etc.)

- 2 Kodak Carousel Projectors with zoom lenses, spare bulbs

- 2 six foot projection screens, or large blank white wall

- 2 extension cords with multiple outlets

- Staff person or fully dedicated local volunteer to serve as a contact for local coordination. This will include 40-80 hours of work before, during and after the charrette- 10-20 standard size work tables to seat 8 people

- Chairs for all participants

- Community staff handles all marketing (samples to be sent by Walkable Communities, Inc.)

- Community supplies any historic photos or illustrations, if available

- Community assembles briefing packets that includes maps, ADT’s, land use, county and state codes, copy of growth management act, and other appropriate background literature (2 weeks before charrette) (5 copies) Please mail direct to our staff (see addresses below)

- Community obtains any aerial photos to cover region (1:100 scale preferred)

- Community obtains other working documents of intersections, sample developments (current and proposed)

- Community to provide an assistant to perform tasks that assist the team, such as running film to the nearest E-6 processor, securing local information, setting up for the events, etc.

- Community provides a quality scanned image of the greater town area aerial photo that is saved in a ".tif" file format.

- Community provides any other graphics, such as town seal, that they would like imbedded in the final working document

- Community specifies the format of the word program needed for final products. Unless otherwise specified, all work products will be in Microsoft WORD 97, PageMaker 6.5, Photoshop 4.0, or Lotus Freelance programs. Walkable Communities, Inc. will provide slides, print and electronic formats for all final work products.

- A studio to conduct work and safely store equipment (12’x 20’ or larger). This space can be several rooms. Work-space is needed for a minimum of 8 people working at a variety of tables.

- Copy machine (enlarge and reduce drawings)*
- Fax machine
- Printer (Laser quality)
- PC Computers (2 or more)
- Paper, supplies for above
- Plotter is desirable, but not essential

***Please make suggestions for convenient motels or other area lodging

 Optional Services. Consultant staff and area volunteers are also available for follow-up work to develop additional products. These elements can be added through discussions with consultant staff and volunteers before and after the charrette. All work is highly customized. In addition to the above basic services, the following items can be contracted:

- Land Use Planning Code Recommendations ($720 per day)
- Additional renderings ($450 per day)
- CAD services or other engineering drawings ($450 per day)
- Follow-up key street engineering guidelines (site specific, conceptual) ($720 per day)
- Future training courses ($1,000 per day, plus expenses)

Compensation for Services. Compensation for our principal staff members is $1,000 - $1,200 per day per person PLUS expenses. This rate assumes a guarantee of five days of work per staff member. Optional staff can be provided.

We also request a $3,000 expense budget to pay direct costs for associated charrette activities and assembling the vision plan. These costs include shipping workshop supplies, mailing, extensive color printing, mounting materials, graphics materials, and related materials and services.

Budget Summary

3 professionals x 5 days @ $1,000/day    = $15,000
Direct travel costs for above team (estimated)    = $ 2,800
Costs for optional or volunteer teams (rooms, meals, travel; estimated) = $ 3,000
Direct expenses for preparation, shipping, photos, phone, color copies,
materials, supplies, printing of 8 document copies (estimated)
= $ 3,000
Total for all of the above basic services = $23,800


*Note: Charrettes can be organized with one or more Walkable Communities staff, and for any length of time to accommodate your specific needs and budget constraints.

Part IV — Charrette Team Members

To help establish a workable plan, Walkable Communities, Inc. will provide three nationally-known specialists to conduct the charrette: This team includes a town planner (Ramon Trias), transportation engineer (Michael, Wallwork, P.E.) and a principle facilitator, photographer and planner (Dan Burden). Copies of their CV’s/resumes are provided.

As a special, low-cost feature for your charrette, Walkable Communities, Inc. is able to provide three professional volunteers, who have extensive regional background. They will contribute knowledge and experience in effective place making in keeping with the unique qualities of Pacific Northwest. The names and backgrounds of these experienced professionals is added to our consultant team list.

Background of Charrette Team Members

Dan Burden -- Team Leader, Principal Facilitator
Dan Burden is the Director of Walkable Communities, Inc. During the past 25 years, Dan has assembled staff and collaborative teams to create better places to live, work and play. Dan is a former National Geographic photographer, and he once led a bicycling expedition from Alaska to Argentina. Later Dan founded Bikecentennial and, along with his wife, Lys, and thirty others, worked with 90 governmental agencies to develop the longest recreation trail in the world - The 4,300 mile-long TransAmerica Bicycle Trail. In 1997 Dan worked to create the Bicycle Federation of America and served as its director for its first two years of operation. For the next sixteen years Dan served as the Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for the Florida Department of Transportation. During this time Dan became interested in charrettes as a means to create more livable communities. Dan has studied under America's best charrette team leaders, and for the past two years he has conducted or contributed to the success of over fourteen charrettes. Recent charrettes include two for the Grand Canyon National Park (North and South Rims); Las Vegas, Nevada (Strip and two other Las Vegas corridors); Austin, Texas (three corridors); University Place, Bellingham, Colville, Mercer Island, Lacey, Ballard (neighborhood in Seattle) and Bellevue, Washington; Key Largo, Gainesville, West Palm Beach, and Ft. Pierce, Florida; and Boulder, Colorado. Dan recently managed team development of new planning and engineering standards for New Traditional Neighborhood Streets. Dan will serve as the principal facilitator, photographer and key writer for the charrette.

Michael Wallwork, P. E - Principal Engineer
Michael Wallwork, P. E., served as a traffic engineer for the central and downtown portions of Melbourne, Australia. In that position he managed design, maintenance, and operations for all modes of transportation for thirteen years, before migrating to the U.S. While in Melbourne, Michael was part of a team that modernized traffic calming, access management, and other traffic management practices. Melbourne is now rated by many as the most livable city in the world. Since Michael migrated to the U.S. in the mid-80's, he has worked for the South Carolina and Florida Department's of Transportation. For the past three years Michael has worked as a consultant for the Jacksonville, Florida, based Genesis Group. Michael joins this charrette team as the lead transportation specialist. He brings experience of serving as lead transportation specialist for a dozen charrettes including ones in West Palm Beach and Tallahassee, Florida; Jackson, Mississippi; Montpelier, Vermont; Austin, Texas; Lacey and University Place, Washington. Michael also has taught traffic calming and roundabout design in many states, including Maryland, Vermont, Florida, Alaska and Oregon. Michael will serve as the transportation systems specialist for the charrette.

Ramon Trias -- Principal Town Planner
Ramon Trias was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain. At the age of thirteen, Ramon fell in love with cities and decided to spend his life learning how to design and create better places for people to live. Ramon moved to the United States and was trained as an architect at the University of Miami. He continued his graduate studies there, taking Town Planning courses under the tutelage of Andres Duany and Elizabeth Platter Zyberk. This husband-wife team is credited for renewing the movement toward building communities with traditional urban design. They have guided the planning of many towns, including Seaside, Florida. Ramon worked for six years at the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Commission, which has been noted for using the charrette process to help transform many of Florida's towns into successful economic centers and livable communities. Ramon is credited for having improved and polished the charrette process, making it more interactive and relevant to town development. Towns using Ramon’s improved charrette process include: Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Del Ray Beach and Fort Pierce, Florida. Ramon now serves as the Community Development Director for Fort Pierce. Ramon has orchestrated five charrettes for Fort Pierce. He is helping redevelop one neighborhood at a time. Ramon has worked on other charrettes with Walkable Communities, including ones in Austin, Texas, and Lacey, Washington. Ramon will serve community as the principal town planner.

Additional Charrette Staff - Optional

Sue Newberry - Charrette Manager
Sue works for the Office of Traffic Safety for Nevada Department of Transportation. In this position, she has helped create and oversee many traffic safety programs. Sue is the chair-person of the Pedestrian Subcommittee for the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Sue organized a Las Vegas Charrette in 1996, which is now a modern template for transportation-driven charrettes. Sue has also worked on the Grand Canyon North Rim Charrette, to help develop a new greenway system for the park. Sue worked with our staff on the Lacey, Washington, Downtown Development Charrette. Sue has extensive background in traffic safety, pedestrian and bicycle planning, and project management. Sue will co-lead the children’s design charrette, assist with the visual preference survey, and help with the charrette organization and writing.

Barbara Gray - Document and Video Production Manager
Barbara is a consultant in transportation engineering who managed Seattle’s nationally known "Making Streets That Work" workbook and video, as well as managing the "City Among the Trees" video workbook and educator’s guide. Barbara has also helped work on the following Neighborhood Plans: First Hill, East Sumner, and North Duwamish. She also has worked on the City of Woodinville Sign Code Compliance Program, Greenwood Traffic Calming and Pedestrian Plan, and the New Major League Stadium EIS. Barbara earned a M.S. degree in Urban Planning, University of Washington. Barbara will be a leader for the children’s charrette, help conduct focus group sessions, and assist with visioning, writing and facilitation.

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Walkable Communities Inc., 320 S. Main St, High Springs, FL   32643 (386) 454-3304
Last Updated:    June 15, 2004
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