Stakeholder engagement. Ugh. The words just sound inherently boring.
So how does a city convince its overworked, overscheduled residents to contribute to the planning process? Oakland is taking a unique tack as it works on its Downtown Specific Plan. In addition to more typical (and contentious) community meetings to discuss the plan, the city is collaborating on a Public Design Fair that turns the feedback process into all-ages playtime. The fair is taking place in Frank Ogawa Plaza. The public square is full of interactive design projects that encourage climbing, gaming, and general fun. And then, just when they least expect it, visitors may just find themselves offering their thoughts on what they like about Oakland and what they hope for its future.
Several coworkers and I visited the fair—which continues through Sunday—on our lunch break today. It was…remarkably fun. Not many of the activities had anything to do with planning, but they pulled visitors in and broke the ice. Here’s what it looked like: