Back in 2003, the Lowell City Council endorsed the city’s first Master Plan in 30 years. Since then, the Hamilton Canal project has become a reality, the housing bubble burst, and “sustainability” – of natural resources, history, culture, and people – has become more important. The process of updating the city’s Master Plan is now underway and a new and innovative part of that process is Community PlanIt, an online community planning tool developed at Emerson College and being utilized in a citywide planning process for the first time here in Lowell beginning June 15.
Here’s what the city’s website says about Community PlanIt:
In addition to surveying the community and holding public meetings, the City of Lowell seeks to engage a diverse audience in the Master Plan update process through the use of new media. In partnership with Emerson College, the City of Lowell is launching Community PlanIt, a free virtual planning tool that engages residents in thinking about the future of their communities in fun and interactive ways. Through the game, players can share their “voice” and vote on issues that matter to them most. This soon-to-be open source software platform has been developed by faculty and staff from Emerson’s Engagement Game Lab. The game is web-based, so it can be played from any computer or mobile phone that has access to the internet. Lowell is the first city to formally use it for the purposes of long-range planning and is looking forward to engaging with the local community through this new medium. Similarly to the survey and public meetings, input gathered through the course of the 10-day Community PlanIt launch will help inform future policy decisions and shape the city’s vision for the future.
Content for Lowell’s Community PlanIt game has been developed by a variety of youth organizations in the city, including the United Teen Equality Center and the Boys & Girls Club, as well as staff in the Department of Planning and Development. The city has made every effort to develop a game that will bring together residents of all ages and backgrounds.
Lowell Telecommunications Corporation, 246 Market Street, will open their computer lab for public use of Community PlanIt on the following dates:
Wednesday, June 15th from 3 – 8:00 PM
Thursday, June 16th from 3 – 8:00 PM
Saturday, June 18th from 10 AM – 2:00 PM
Tuesday, June 21st from 3 – 8:00 PM
Friday, June 24th from 3 – 6:00 PM
You can sign up to participate in Community PlanIt right now. Just go to its website, enter your email address and select “Lowell.” The site will send you a confirmatory email (just click on the “confirm” link) and will send you another email on June 15 when the online planning “game” gets underway.