Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Activated Planning

What... two blog posts in one week? Wow, something must be up!

That's right folks, I've been inspired. Yesterday (Tuesday), was a day of active planning. Not to imply that regular day to day activities don't include planning, nor to imply that the day to day activities aren't important, but we all get bogged down in the day to day, and when something out of the ordinary comes along, you can get inspired by it.

Yesterday was one of those days. On the face of it, a day of 4 meetings, and some administrative work, might seem day to day. Bonus was the two main meetings. The first was a session with residents, business owners, transit providers and civic leaders to discuss ways to improve our wayfinding in downtown Dover.

What is wayfinding? It can be signage, but it is a much larger concept. Think about the tools we use to get around town. It isn't just signs - in the literal sense. We use clues such as activity and street furniture and lighting styles to be aware that we are in the downtown area.

The meeting was a great kick off to what I see as a project to highlight Dover's assets, our waterfall, our river, our shops and restaurants, and our museums. The meeting was geared to generate excitement among the stakeholders, and I think it did just that. It was fun to discuss Dover as a resident and as a tourist trying to get around.

The second meeting of note was a workshop the Sustainable Dover program hosted on permaculture. What the heck is permaculture? It is designing development with nature in mind. It is the idea that we are part of nature and need to design our homes, neighborhoods and communities to be part of nature and not fight nature.

Steve Whitman, a planner from Plymouth, who in my estimation is one of the most visionary and proactive planners in New Hampshire, came and taught 12 of us the basic philosophy and framework of this concept. It is not new, and Steve isn't the innovator, but it is new to many peoples conscious, and Steve has immersed himself and family into the idea. He has developed a sideshow that demonstrates the philosophy and framework using examples from his home and life.

I am not going to try and summarize the 12 points involved, or even try to explain the overall concept more than I have. Instead I am going to dwell on it, and review my own activities and make lifestyle changes to embrace the philosophy and I hope to continue to be inspired by the workshop, and its companion workshop in 2 weeks.It was great to see a concept that is complicated, but makes so much sense, and is obtainable with some minor changes to your life (composting etc).

I went home at 9:30 last night and didn't mind a bit that I had last stepped foot in the house 15 hours earlier. I didn't mind, because I was so jazzed about the great work we had completed during the day. It was rewarding to be encouraged by the stakeholders involved with the wayfinding project, and then to be inspired by learning something new and adoptable, was that much more energizing.

So, how do we replicate that energy today? We'll see and I'll let you know.

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