Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 (IK2025) is about consulting the community and making sure that everyone participates in creating a shared vision to enhance quality of life for all. Diverse communities live, work, and play in the City of Kalamazoo; IK2025 is about valuing and respecting contributions made by all people and believing that this diversity strengthens Kalamazoo as a whole. We know that broad community engagement is the only way to achieve that ambitious goal. Community Planning & Development began the IK 2025 process with a five phase process:
Imagine It – to create the vision;
Plan It – to understand projects goals;
Design It – to design and prioritize aspirational projects;
Discuss It – city staff will review goals and projects assigning resources;
Draft It – to promote the plan to the city;
Adopt It – to adopt and begin implementing the Master Plan for 2025.
Planning began by using a variety of outreach tools and groups. These included some of the traditional methods such as a steering committee, community meetings, and assembling workgroups to head up 6 topic areas:
• Great Neighborhoods
• Shared Prosperity and Economic Development
• Balanced Transportation
• Enriched City Life - Downtown
• A Sustainable City Infrastructure
• Development Character and Land Use
They also included some new approaches including Meetings on the Go, surveys, living walls, and online feedback through Open Town Hall at www.imaginekalamazoo.com. Many of these methods concentrated heavily on going to where people already are- We’ve been to Art Hops, Music Hops, Lunchtime Live, the Women’s Expo, KDPS Block Parties, the Mother’s of Hope Ultimate Family Reunion, National Night Out, and canvassing in neighborhoods.
Meeting on the go survey questionnaires returned: 450
Kalamazoo College surveys distributed/online participation: 70
Living Wall participation (post-it note ideas): 400
Imagine Kalamazoo Website: 50
Number of people engaged at “go to where people are” community events: 450
Total number of participants engaged from January - May: 1420
With the hard work of our steering committee and volunteers, Imagine It phase of Imagine Kalamazoo was met with overwhelming numbers of responses. With all of the information that we had, we quickly realized that it was more than we could handle on our own! With the help of the public engagement firm Public Agenda. The transcripts of information was returned to us in usable data formats. following themes emerged from the comments and ideas that our community felt best described the issues, aspirations, and values held by the people of Kalamazoo.
Culturally Diverse - Diversity, arts, culture, acceptance of others
Connected - Transportation, unified vision, events and festivals
Vibrant - Urban revitalization, downtown revitalization, great place to live
Equity & Opportunity - Education, social service, poverty, racism, affordable living, more and higher paying jobs
Friendly Community/ Quality of Life - Sense of community, neighborhood, safe, great place to live
Accessible – Pedestrian & bike friendly, housing, convenient parking , outdoor spaces
Collaborative – Engaged community, planning, zoning, development
Finally, the steering committee and workgroups were able to further refine the seven themes into to three based on interaction of values and goals between them. Those three themes are:
1. Equity & Opportunity
2. Vibrant & Friendly Community
3. Connected & Accessible
The next steps are in motion with the Plan It phase now in full swing. Please continue participating in the discussions that are happening now and throughout the year as the new Strategic Vision and Master Plan come together!
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