Place It! A Community Engagement Strategy

We’ve been working with James Rojas to explore ways to engage more people in the planning process, especially youths, seniors, non-English speakers, and others who are not familiar with planning.  Instead of using planning jargon, the Place It! method allows people to play with everyday objects to get people to talk about a place. When participants are asked to make their favorite childhood memory using objects, the stories they tell are related to a physical space: being at a park, grandma’s garden, or outdoors where they were at one time surrounded by family or friends or other people.  When participants are asked to make their ideal community, they include schools, hospitals, churches, homeless housing, parks, walking/biking paths, playgrounds, shopping areas, and restaurants. Responses like these are what participants gave at recent Place It! workshops we participated in. Whether folks knew it or not, the stories they told and the places in which the stories took place were about planning, which can help us develop the East San Gabriel Valley Area Plan. Our goal is to engage people of all age, ethnicity, education, experience, income, and geography to tell us what they like and what they think makes for a good community using various strategies. Place It! has been a great way to start this dialogue.

Participants used materials such as pipe cleaners, feathers, popsicle sticks and other materials to show their favorite childhood memory.