Downtown Saginaw Infill & Revitalization Charrette
This is a good example of:Sponsoring planning and charrettes where financial resources are limited
While dire municipal budgets and loss of government support for planning are well covered in the news, New E.R.A. Community Group and the City of Saginaw are proving that home grown dreamers can still make a difference and influence meaningful change. Good planning does not have to be driven be the available dollars but by the community itself.
In a city with extremely limited resources, financial or otherwise, this collaboration of residents, business owners, politicians, and church leaders realized that a plan was needed if the downtown business district was ever going to revitalize, even if the municipality had no funds to do it. The core members and founders of New E.R.A. completed the National Charrette Institute’s Charrette System Training and then brought in Sarah Lewis (NCI faculty member and Fuss & O’Neill urban designer) to organize and manage the design charrette. All the committee members, facilitators, and much of the design team were volunteers yet the event was extremely well advertised and well covered by the local press (bloggers, print, radio, and television). Held on November 8-12th in a donated space (a historic building within the study area), the charrette involved more than 200 people at the hands-on session alone – ranging from high school students to senior citizens. It was truly dynamic.
Since the charrette, New E.R.A. has organized and held a Leadership Summit that include members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Michigan House of Representatives, multiple state agencies, the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy, and other local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce. This summit not only presented the urban design work but was the beginning of an action plan generated by the participants in facilitated table exercises with focused topic areas. Many of the agencies and organizations are already stepping forward to be the lead on specific implementation projects.