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Fall 2020 – Workshop #2: Community and Design Facilitation

I'm always blown away by the enthusiasm and love of this city that each person brings to City Open. This season is already gunning as we and the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) team prepare for the fast-approaching community meetings in October for the Rogers Park Corridor Development Initiative (CDI). Read up on the previous Workshop #1 and our site visit last Saturday here.

Image description: City Open Workshop participants gather on a shaded sidewalk next to the Hellow Howard Gardens to learn about the site’s context within the Roger’s Park neighborhood.

We opened with a debriefing of the walking tour of Hello Howard Garden and the surrounding area to share with those who couldn’t make it. There was a bit of confusion about City Open’s role within the Rogers Park CDI so the MPC team articulated further that our team is to be an engagement partner in design and facilitation. The outreach for the upcoming community meetings will be spearheaded by MPC, its advisory committee made up of local stakeholders, and their Communications team, using various methods such as canvassing, social media, and various educational videos prior to meetings to help reach as wide of an audience as possible.

The team has been working in the three distinct engagement platforms: virtual, in-person, and remote DIY. Tonight we honed in on the specific goals of the design community meetings, the particular constraints we’ll be wrestling within, and design parameters for the project. There has been plenty of brainstorming, however we now need to work to fit the content into 60 minutes.

Image description: Snip from the Zoom platform showing an icon of City Open participants discussing a draft of the site basemap.

Throughout the evening we discussed particularities of the design exercises, such as using legos for maps or polling platforms like Mentimeter. Kendra Freeman from MPC noted that from previous experience, talking people through the exercise and asking the right questions was far more important to the facilitation than perhaps the specifics of the design exercise. Some ideas were put forth to combat facilitator implicit bias, such as incorporating natural and intentional breaks in the presentation to allow people to put forth thoughts and questions we may be missing.

The groups will need to finalize physical material shopping lists for MPC to gather by next Friday. Email us to join the working group sessions at You can also register for the next Workshop here and the Rogers Park CDI sessions on MPC’s website here.


LOUISA ZHENG is a designer interested in social impact and community participatory processes.


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