Design Wisconsin

Design Wisconsin, a core part of the  Community Vitality & Placemaking Signature Effort, is a program that builds and motivates positive community change using a team of professional volunteers embedded in the community using a variety of public participation methods in an intense and fun charrette.  The format can be applied to a variety of settings as scales:

  • Community (3-day charrette):  A 3-day charrette that addresses community-wide issues using a multi-disciplinary team of 20 professionals stays with host families from Thursday thru Saturday.
  • Area/Neighborhood (1.5-day charrette):  A 1 ½ day charrette to address a smaller area using a multi-disciplinary team of 5-10 professionals.
  • Site-Specific (half-day charrette): A small 2-4 person team facilitates a half-day charrette with a local stakeholder group.

Community Design Charrettes are high-energy community planning activities that concentrate public involvement into a multi-day event (i.e., the charrette) in order to discover a shared vision for the future while generating the energy needed to pursue that vision.

Overview

During the multi-day charrette, a team of 18-24 volunteers with diverse professional expertise (e.g., architecture, landscape architecture, planning, design, economic development, art, and the natural and social sciences) live and work with a community to collaboratively develop short-, medium-, and long-term visions.  A “workbook” is used to help guide the community 6-8 months prior to the charrette with planning and logistical activities designed to prepare the community for the charrette and for implementation.

The Process

Unlike a traditional strategic planning process, the community design charrette approach concentrates public engagement into a multi-day event.  The event or “visit” consists of a flurry of interactive activities that encourage the exchange of ideas while generating the energy needed for implementation.  Like a traditional strategic planning process, the community design charrette involves months of preparation and deliberation involving key stakeholders.  Contrary to public opinion, the community design charrette process involves just as much time and effort as a traditional process and merely projects the illusion that it is quick, fun, and simple.  This illusion is by design and is critical to successful public participation and implementation.

Typical Timeline

Community contacts local UW Extension Educator (6-10 months prior to the “Visit”)

  • Community Develops a Community Leadership Team
  • Community Leadership Team downloads Design Wisconsin Team Workbook and completes application exercises (at least 1 month’s worth of work)

Design Wisconsin Team Workbook

  • Community Applies for a Design Wisconsin program to UW-Extension Community Vitality + Placemaking Signature Effort

UW Extension Community Vitality & Placemaking Signature Effort reviews the application and schedules a site visit with the Community Leadership Team and local UW-Extension Educator.

UW Extension Community Vitality & Placemaking Signature Effort selects community.

  • UW Extension Community Vitality & Placemaking Signature Effort:
    • A design team of volunteer planning and design professionals, engineers and scientists, along with UW faculty and students is assembled
    • A community demographic and economic profile is generated to provide background information to team members prior to the “Visit”
  • Community Leadership Team & local UW-Extension Educator:
    • Half of the fee is paid to the UW-Extension Community Vitality + Placemaking Signature Effort prior to the assembly of the team, the other half is paid 1 week prior to the “Visit”
    • Preparations for the “Visit” begin with guidance from the local UW-Extension Educator

The “Visit”

  • Thursday, 7-9 PM:  Team members meet Community Leadership Team and host families
  • Friday, 9 AM – noon:  Community presentations to team members
  • Friday, noon – 1:30:  Working lunches with 3 different community groups
  • Friday 1:30 PM:  Bus and walking tour of the community
  • Friday 3:30 PM:  Team meeting to prepare for Town Meeting
  • Friday 6 PM:  Community supper
  • Friday 7 PM:  Community workshop
  • Saturday 8 AM:  Team meeting and work session.
  • Saturday 7 PM:  Team presentation to the community.

Post-Visit Reporting (within 2 months of the “Visit”)

  • UW-Extension Community Vitality + Placemaking Signature Effort:
    • Evaluation and debriefing
    • Slideshow and drawings distributed to the community and team members
    • Summary report of the “Visit” is generated and distributed to the community and team members
  • Community Leadership Team & local UW-Extension Educator:
    • Implementation/action groups begin working on outcomes from the “Visit”

Follow-Up Visit (6 months after the “Visit”)

  • UW-Extension Community Vitality + Placemaking Signature Effort meets with Community Leadership Team and local UW-Extension Educator to assess impacts and collect feedback.

Summary Reports

The Design Wisconsin Team program provides communities with a Summary Report that documents the process and outputs.  In some cases, short videos were created to demonstrate the process as well as its impacts.  You may view and download past Summary Reports, videos, and other UW work built upon the Design Wisconsin program below:

Design Wisconsin: La Valle Design Team
Design Wisconsin: Forward Three Lakes
Design Wisconsin: Ellsworth
Design Wisconsin: Kewaunee
Design Wisconsin: Princeton
Design Wisconsin: Reedsburg
Design Wisconsin: Baileys Harbor
Design Wisconsin: Grantsburg

Design Wisconsin is modeled after the Community Design Charrette developed by the Minnesota Design Team.

Our Work

2022 Wisconsin Rural Economic Summit
Community Vitality + Placemaking Fact Sheet: Imageability Mapping
Community Vitality + Placemaking Fact Sheet: Park(ing) Day
July 15, 2021, Lunch N Learn: We Are the Economy
Shaping Downtown After COVID-19 (Issue 194, June 2021)
May 26, 2021, Lunch N Learn: 4th Wave of Economic Development

Latest News & Updates

Design Wisconsin: La Valle Design Team
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