Achieving an Equitable Outcome through Games: How City of Charlotte Using Board Games to Reach Out to Under-represented Populations in Scenario Planning

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Abstract Summary
Scenario planning is a tool that tests out development possibilities and their impacts on achieving community goals. It is primarily used by the government to support long-term well-being of the community. The tool influences growth policy and development laws and is useful in communications between professionals in different departments and the resulting trade-offs are important to be able to communicate with the community at large. Scenario planning that uses geographic information mapping to enable data analysis and facilitate communications has been frequently used in regional land use and transportation planning. One example is CONNECT Our Future, a regional plan completed in 2015 for the 14-county region around the City of Charlotte in the United States. Charlotte’s current comprehensive planning project, the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan, is also using scenario planning as a tool to develop alternative plans for comparisons and dialogues. The City of Charlotte has been partnering with local communities to develop the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan, a plan that will guide how the city will invest in itself over the next 20 years. Once adopted, the plan will be the foundation for strategic policy, equitable investment in infrastructure, and new regulatory tools such as the Unified Development Ordinance. It will be the blueprint for the City of Charlotte to realize its vision, which sees itself America’s Queen City, opening its arms to a diverse and inclusive community of residents, businesses, and visitors alike; a safe family-oriented city where people work together to help everyone thrive. The City of Charlotte is using a board game called Growing Better Places in their current Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan process to engage with residents and gather feedback for the Comprehensive Plan and for participants to learn about prioritizing and leveraging growth and its impacts. The community input collected during these games has also been fed into the City’s scenario analysis for developing various future growth alternatives for comparisons and negotiations. One key objective of this game is to ensure that the path to creating complete neighborhoods for all residents in the city is equitable, economically viable and fiscally responsible. This study seeks to investigate what operational issues behind this game have an effect on the effectiveness and the ability of the city to continually engage with local communities during the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan process. In particular, this study examines the pros and cons of this approach with regard to bridging the gap of under-representation by African Americans, youth, Hispanics, Latino, and senior citizens. This study also compares the various ways in which this board game is played (online vs. in-person) and attempts to identify best practices that can achieve the game’s main goal, which is to listen and engage with all communities in Charlotte. This study is concerned with the factors that are attributed to the implementation of the Growing Better Places board game. This study will be carried out by the comparative case study research method, which is one of several ways of doing case study research. It is an inductive process in that researchers gain insight and a deeper understanding through patterns in the data.
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6: Creating Healthy and Inclusive Urban Environment
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Associate Professor
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
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