FHWA sponsored five one day Regional Livability Workshops around the United States to bring practitioners together to discuss their challenges and successes in implementing livability-related projects. The workshops drew on participants experiences to promote a greater understanding of transportation's role in livability among highway, transit, environmental, and housing agencies. The workshop goals included:
The workshop participants also discussed regional best practices to help develop a greater understanding of successful livability practices.
Atlanta workshop brainstorming.
Each workshop followed the same general agenda:
Workshops were held in Atlanta, GA; Kansas City, MO; Boston, MA3, Sacramento, CA; and Denver, CO. Due to higher Federal representation in Atlanta, the discussion focused on the Federal government's role in helping to advance livability, along with regional/metropolitan planning organization (MPO) issues. In Kansas City, the original emphasis was on rural and tribal issues, but many of the targeted participants were unable to attend. It was requested that the presenters, if possible, address those issues in their work. In Boston, the discussion focused more on the role that State departments of transportation (DOTs) play in advancing livability, especially in rural communities. In Denver and Sacramento, during the small group discussions on Regional Livability Planning Strategies, facilitators asked participants to provide specific feedback on the topic areas in the livability primer, rather than the general feedback on incorporating livability into regional planning during the first three workshops. Since many participants who attended the Denver workshop were from rural areas, facilitators tailored the discussion questions to focus on livability in rural areas. Overall, participants engaged actively in discussion and appeared motivated by the discussion topics, ensuring a well-rounded and balanced representation of viewpoints.
221 participants (local, regional, State, and Federal) from 41 States participated including regional leaders in the area of livability from MPOs, transportation agencies, city and county governments, public and private developers, State DOTs, nonprofit organizations, housing, transit, environmental and resource agencies, and others. The Federal attendees were agency staff from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); these organizations are partners in the HUD/DOT/EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC). Representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the National Park Service were present at select workshops. In a number of the workshops, participants mentioned that the PSC has motivated their organization to bring other agencies together to discuss issues and projects. It has provided a format for beginning conversations that otherwise were not taking place. Many of the regional presenters also mentioned PSC initiatives, support, and funding during their presentations of livability best practices.
Based on evaluation forms, the participants rated the workshops favorably. Participant suggestions were incorporated into subsequent meetings, when applicable. For example, facilitators added a one-minute, one-on-one discussion during the remaining three workshops on, "What is the single most important thing that needs to be in the primer?" Participants reviewed this change favorably. Following the Kansas City, MO workshop, facilitators divided the morning large group discussion on "Identifying Challenges to Livability" into two distinct discussions on challenges and solutions, in order to provide stronger closure to the discussion and direct participant attention to identifying solutions. Due to the high number of challenges collected during the first three workshops, facilitators used the "Identifying Challenges to Livability" discussion for the remaining two workshops as a way to draw out more detail on the wide range of challenges previously raised. A number of participants requested more information up front on the goals and intended outcomes of the workshop, as well as additional time during the workshop to discuss ongoing livability efforts with the other representatives.
The following four themes were used to organize the workshop agenda and exercises. The discussions identified several key issues in each area:
These themes are outlined in detail in the next section, and will directly influence the content and style of subsequent FHWA materials.
2 Dot voting to prioritize challenges did not occur at the Atlanta, GA workshop.
3 The Boston, MA meeting was actually held in Cambridge, MA.