Scenario Planning Peer Workshop Report - Birmingham, Alabama
IV. Summary of Group Discussions
Workshop participants had several opportunities during two small group breakout sessions to discuss speakers' presentations and how lessons learned could be applied to the Greater Birmingham region. Highlights from these small group discussions are outlined on the next page. The complete list of responses is included in Appendix A.
Workshop participants during a discussion session (image courtesy of RPCGB).
The first breakout session focused how Greater Birmingham could apply lessons learned from Southwestern Pennsylvania. Participants at each table discussed three pre-documented questions and then reported on their discussions to the whole group. The following were common themes and ideas that recurred across tables:
- What ideas from SPC's presentation were most relevant to Greater Birmingham?
- Involve all stakeholders in the process;
- Hold innovative public meetings and conduct interactive outreach such as through the use of electronic polling and community involvement activities; and
- Be willing and technically able to change scenarios as the process unfolds.
- What concepts can guide RPCGB's scenario planning/regional transportation plan process?
- Regional decisions should prioritize enhancing quality of life;
- The Birmingham region should provide diverse places for diverse people; and
- There is a need for regional identity if regional planning is to be successful.
- What expectations do you have for RPCGB's scenario planning/regional transportation plan process?
- Make sure that public meetings are genuine, interesting, and participatory. Raise the public's expectations and then exceed them;
- Keep lines of communication open with regional stakeholders; and
- Be on time and on budget. The scenario planning effort should not take such a long time that Greater Birmingham has significantly changed as a region between the start and end of the process.
The second breakout session focused on how scenario planning might work if applied to Greater Birmingham. Participants at each table discussed a series of questions and then reported on their discussions to the whole group. The following were common themes and ideas that participants raised:
- What would a successful scenario planning process look like for Greater Birmingham?
- A useful document that is easy to implement (the best case is that it is adopted as law by individual jurisdictions in Greater Birmingham);
- Innovating and engaging public meetings held at venues across the region; and
- Stakeholders, government representatives, and the public understand the process of scenario planning.
- What are the key issues that should be addressed by a scenario planning effort?
- Maintaining and improving existing infrastructure with static or declining funding;
- Lack of partnerships and shared identity between urban, suburban, and rural areas; and
- Improving quality of life across the region.
- Who would be the key stakeholders and local champions for a scenario planning effort?
- Developers, realtors, and other private interests;
- Elected officials from all levels of government, including state and Federal government; and
- Advocates and community leaders from across the region.
- What resources does Birmingham have now for scenario planning?
- Technology, including modeling systems and electronic polling equipment;
- Skilled staff at local government agencies;
- Local contractors;
- Interested locals; and
- A need for regional planning and time to plan before economic recovery.
- What resources does Birmingham need for scenario planning?
- Cooperation, particularly from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and landowners;
- Champions to help initiate and continue the process;
- Additional data;
- Scope and a set of goals for the effort; and
- Commitment from stakeholders.
- What do you think are the most beneficial aspects of scenario planning for Greater Birmingham?
- Getting everybody “on the same page” to identify shared interests;
- Increasing regionalism for all areas of Greater Birmingham; and
- Producing a regional vision to unite residents, communities, and industries.
- What might be some challenges of scenario planning for Greater Birmingham?
- Lack of certainty or predictability of transportation funding at all levels; and
- Previous local long-range plans have lacked strength