What is Community Planning?

In April, Community Planning Director Tresa Carter moderated a panel discussion with three local planners: Sara Copeland (FAICP), Triveece Penelton (AICP, NOMA), and Jenna Fernandez. This program was born from a desire to better educate community members about what the heck community planning means! 

At its core, BikeWalkKC aims to empower individuals and communities to take action on their own behalf. The way we do this is through education. As an organization we already have lots of courses offered about confident city cycling, bike maintenance, and how to advocate for better policies. Now, we wanted to start a conversation about what community planning is, why it matters, and how it relates to the way you live your life. 

Ultimately, BikeWalkKC will have met its mission when we are in fact no longer needed. When there is a network of advocates, community planning champions, and all kinds of people riding, walking, and using public transit safely and confidently, our purpose will be fulfilled. Programs like this one are an important part of meeting that mission. 

What is Community Planning? What makes your favorite places truly special?

Watch the recording on our YouTube Channel


We were so fortunate to hear from our brilliant panelists about how they each define community planning and their inspirations for going out to advocate on behalf of better planning practices. We captured the key takeaways from our discussion: 

  1. When a community planning project seems too broad or far out to apply to you, bring issues down to your level. Think about the impact to your neighborhood, the streets your children walk on, or the bus you take to work to understand how the project relates to you. 
  2. Community members have been marginalized by racist policies implemented by planners. Rebuilding trust will require professionals from many different disciplines (planners, politicians, city staff, and more) to be patient, have lots of one-on-one conversations, and commit to work for justice. 
  3. Planners should be working WITH, not for or to communities. Trace what you see back to the origin to understand the intent of what’s playing out. Find out whose idea something was so you can identify if it's community driven. 
  4. Dream BIG and think about the future you really want before you get hung up on the details of how something might happen! With a vision established, planners, engineers, landscape architects, and other professionals working alongside community members can find a way to make it happen. 
  5. You do not need to have the solution to a problem to speak up about the problem. Your role as a community champion is to bring opportunities or concerns to the planners so they can work on them. 
  6. Remember that you are not alone. Reach out to your local neighborhood association or other local groups to surround yourself with community. 

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