As my past posts have indicated I’ve had a growing frustration with the Chapel Hill 2020 process over the past couple of months. This evening’s transportation Tavern Talk has at least begun to change my mind. Unlike many other Chapel Hill 2020 events, the night was unstructured. And I think that was part of what made it such a success.
Participants could leave feedback in a variety of ways. First, they could write comments on large goals boards or on index cards spread out through the room. They could also answer questions written on large sheets paper by filling in their comments around. Maps were available to be edited and staff from the town were also on hand to answer questions and field comments. The town also provided food in the form of heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
The crowd was significantly younger than I had seen at any previous Chapel Hill 2020 meeting, and the good news was that I hadn’t seen most of those present at any other part of process. Though I heard many of those present were graduate students in the planning program, I think at this point any participation from a younger crowd should be appreciated.
The town could capitalize on the success of this tavern talk by holding similar events with a few key elements. First, events hosted for a particular group should be hosted by members of that particular group, as was the case here. Second, the structure of the event should be more open. And third, the tone of the event should be more social. Events like these are ideal and I hope to see more of them in the near future.