Suwanee, GA is a suburban community located on the northern outskirts of Atlanta. More than half of its 16,000 residents moved to the Suwanee in the past 10 years on the heels of new development. Despite the extensive growth, Suwanee has received numerous awards including recognition by Money Magazine as one of the best small communities to live in 2007. Much of Suwanee’s success is built upon careful planning that has brought new residential development but also new jobs and commercial services to what was once a series of farms and low-density neighborhoods.
Our charge was to lead an effort to create a Strategic Plan that integrates prior work around land use with a broader set of strategies related to services, art, transportation and sustainability. Public outreach was an essential part of the process to help garner a consensus around approach. Upon the plan’s adoption by the Suwanee City Council, Councilmembers expressed pride over the plan and the process, calling it “innovative and exhaustive” in its reach.
This included installing an “open house” that occupied a vacant storefront for one month and an accompanying website that allowed people to participate on their own time to learn about the planning process and give us their thoughts. To create a buzz about the Open House and the planning process, Interface Studio produced a looping animation that was projected in the storefront window for the duration of the Open House.
This process was followed by a series of roundtable discussions designed to get citizens talking to one another around key themes and questions. In all just under 300 people participated in the Roundtables resulting in a rich set of ideas around a comprehensive set of topics intended to help the City prioritize their budget.