Friday, May 31, 2013

Aspen Announces Collaborative, Online City Planning Process

Aspen, CO volunteers demonstrate their commitment to the
environment at an event in October, 2010. Photo Courtesy
Aspen City Council wants to create a more environmentally sustainable community. In an effort to do so, the City Council recently asked residents to participate in an online questionnaire designed to create a working definition of a sustainable Aspen.

The website references a lack of consensus regarding what sustainability is and how to measure it. The City Council’s questionnaire process hopes to flesh out what sustainability means and will look like in each of the following areas: energy, water, air, waste and parks, and trails and open space. Focus groups recently met to question underlying assumptions regarding the availability, quality and relevance of data.

For each of the five topics, an outcome statement will be created which will detail the end results and benefits of a sustainable Aspen. The outcome statement will include quantifiable measurement standards which will encourage active, adaptive management of the program.

The online questionnaire ultimately seeks to ensure that the planners' ideas mesh with the needs and desires of the broader Aspen community. The online forum allows decision makers to engage in dialogue with a larger constituent base. In addition, studies have shown that management plans are more effective when the local populations have been involved in the planning process.

Computer mediated communication between natural resource managers, city planners, etc. and stakeholders is on the rise and most likely not to end soon. This topic warranted a full hour and a half of discussion at the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute’s 2013 conference, Land Use for a Lifetime; Changing Demographics and Shifting Priorities. (To access the conference session handouts, visit: Using Social Media to Advance Ethical Planning)

Angelica Oman
Graduate Program Assistant

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