Indy is committed to the community conversation

17 Jul

Like many communities, Indianapolis’s urban core is more than one thing to more than one sector of their population. It wears many hats, and is home to many voices. 

Lauren Nguyen, mySideWalk

Indianapolis is in a fight against suburban flight. The city needs to find a way to keep residents from leaving the urban core to take new jobs, make new homes, and start new businesses. A new approach to planning in their city could tie together the community’s vision and values with a long-range strategy.

To help move toward a brighter, more prosperous future, the City of Indianapolis created a bicentennial plan that encompasses issues from city culture, to transit, to bicycling. Creative promotional efforts and comprehensive public outreach through meetings, newsletters and social media have made that plan, known as Plan 2020, a success. Continuing to keep public input at the forefront will be key to its longevity.

“When we started Plan 2020, we committed to rethinking community engagement,” says Brad M. Beaubien, AICP, Planning Administrator for the city of Indianapolis.“

“Traditional public meetings work for a small constituency and are important for that group, but planning is too important to limit engagement to that small group,” he says. “We put together a family of engagement vehicles to try and reach a wide range of stakeholders, and mySidewalk was one of these vehicles that helped us rethink how we engage our community.”

mySidewalk allows Indy a way to engage in a public, two-way conversation that isn’t limited to only those who can attend a meeting downtown. Their mySidewalk page is open 24/7. Working parents, busy students, retirees, and young professionals all keep different hours balancing a variety of priorities. On mySidewalk they all can provide meaningful feedback to help the city move closer to its goal.

“We like that people can engage at their own time and pace, and that we don’t have the problem of a single voice dominating the discussion at the expense of those who may be more passive but equally passionate,” says Beaubien.

The importance of that engagement is front and center when it comes to ensuring the future of their downtown. Like many communities, Indy’s urban core is more than one thing to more than one sector of their population. It wears many hats, and is home to many voices.

“Downtown is one of the few neighborhoods that belongs to everyone,” Beaubian says. “People live there. It’s the economic engine of the Central Indiana. It’s the center of government and justice. It’s the home of the second largest University campus in the state. It’s a transportation hub for all modes. It’s the entertainment, sports, and culture hub,”

Plan 2020 uses mySidewalk to capture the feedback of their residents around the issues that matter most. They can easily collect the sentiment, as well as measurable data around the issues and concerns of both the city and the community.

“It’s important for us to engage all of these stakeholders, and to do so requires a suite of engagement vehicles,” Beaubian says. “mySidewalk allows us to reach many of these diverse stakeholders in an ongoing and meaningful way.”

Downtown Colorado, Inc. is currently partnered with mySidewalk. Members can claim their organization’s page by clicking here for free. 

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