CIVIQ lecture series: urban planning, community engagement + Westside Evolves project

A graphic featuring a blue background with several orange dots with blue dots overlaying them, places on top of a map, and featuring the word "CIVIQ."
the CIVIQ lecture series is back | Photo via NOOGAtoday, graphic via the Chattanooga Design Studio

The Chattanooga Design studio is bringing back the CIVIQ lecture series, and the first series event of 2021 kicked off with a bang last night.

What is CIVIQ?

CIVIQ is a local speaker series focused on topics surrounding urban design that began in 2018. Past series included discussions on infrastructure, transit, and more, all of which you can listen to online

Last night, 2 women behind the local Westside Community Evolves projectRhae Parks of EJP consulting, the planning organization working on the project, and local artist Erika Roberts — took the stage to discuss how community engagement and involvement + art are important facets in neighborhood redevelopment.

Principles used in the project

  • Understand the baseline: past + present | Understanding the community’s history 
  • Start with strengths + assets | Don’t originally focus on what needs to be fixed, but what is strong about the community
  • Be clear about opportunities for influence V. decision making | Be honest about the difference between community input + community decision making 
  • Listen actively, be transparent, be consistent | Intentionally listen to the community, and stay transparent in the project’s stages
  • Recruit allies, collaborate; Leverage community assets, partners, and momentum | Community allies, partners + collaboration are important
  • | Work with local partners and orgs to benefit the project
  • Find early wins, especially those that are resident-led | In year-long projects, show that you are listening to the community by providing early-stage tangible successes — ie, bus stops, sidewalk paving, etc.
  • Invest time + resources | Invest in elements like surveys and technical studies, community conversations + diverse communication mechanisms

The importance of art

Local artist Erika Roberts discussed how her 98 year old grandmother has lived in the Westside community since Erika was a child, and how the community is important to her

She wanted to preserve the community + history of Westside through art. She outlined the necessary elements of a successful process that works through art:

  • An organization
  • Artist(s)
  • Community
  • Intentionality

The unveiling of the Westside Evolves final plan + the artwork that accompanies it will take place tomorrow, July 24, in the Westside community.