CSS works closely with Louisiana communities to identify issues, customize educational and organizational structure, and tailor content for events before, during, and after an intensive workshop. This carefully constructed agenda helps elected officials learn how to better approach the challenges confronting their communities through the lens of resilient community design.
Phase I: Getting Started — LCRI Field Visits and Data Collection
To begin, CSS identifies incorporated communities with populations of 5000+(indicative of capacity for planning) led by mayors who are not engaged in re-election, nor at the end of their term. Other similar characteristics may be explored to help build common ground among participating mayors. CSS professionals travel to communities, meeting one-on one with mayors and planning leaders to better understand local challenges. CSS professionals drive the community accompanied by leaders, see and discuss real world problems and priorities, and decide on a single challenge to bring to the workshop. Mayors continue working closely with CSS in the months leading up to the workshop to further develop case study projects, including the development of info graphics, visual and written materials for use during presentations and discussions.
Phase II: Problem Presentation and Idea Generation at the LCRI Mayors’ Workshop
The intensive two-day, closed-door workshop provides six mayors with direct access to six nationally-renowned planning and urban design professionals for candid discussion on real-world problems and projects. Subject matter experts represent fields such as applied ecology, land conservation, sustainable design, green real estate development, disaster recovery, pre-disaster planning and mitigation, economic development, urban resilience and sustainable infrastructure planning, and coastal management. Brainstorming efforts target the community issues brought by mayors, with experts and political peers sharing ideas for solving community problems and building community resilience. Presentations introduce tools, technologies, and case studies to help create strategies for living and working in the context of a dynamic environment with ever-increasing risks. All presentations and the subsequent round table discussions showcase how planning and design best practices can improve the way a city looks at and responds to environmental, coastal, and climate changes.
Phase III: Hard Work Begins — Turning Ideas into Projects and Programs
After the workshop, mayors return home better equipped for real world problem-solving. Mayors now have:
- A better understanding of community design and planning processes
- Substantially increased confidence in their ability to tackle complex issues
- A support network of experienced political peers
- Access to subject matter experts and new community resilience resources
- A repertoire of ideas and and/or well-defined solutions tailored specifically to community challenges
- Funding and partnership ideas to help solve community problems
CSS and resource team members may continue working with mayors to coordinate strategic partnerships, provide additional research through project support or design studios, and seek financial support through grants funding or gifts. For example, following the LCRI April 14- 15, 2016 meeting, CSS submitted a team grant proposal with the University of Arkansas and Mississippi State University for one community’s project.