The massive flood that inundated the residents of Cedar Rapids, Iowa from June 11-13, 2008 still affects many citizens and businesses today. In an effort to facilitate conversations between local government and the residents, the city of Cedar Rapid established the Neighborhood Planning Process (NPP), and invited the Institute of Cultural Affairs in the USA (ICA-USA), to join their efforts.
Before ICA-USA began work with the NPP, "residents struggled to have their voices heard about the rebuilding effort," says Drew Westberg of the Department of Community Development in Cedar Rapids. "Now we have a process that really helps build a sense of shared ownership."
The NPP hosted the second in a series of town-hall meetings on January 31 to help with rebuilding efforts using ICA-USA's Technology of Participation® Methods. ICA-USA is the only organization to have held town hall meetings in all fifty states, in every county in the country, totaling more than 500 meetings. ICA-USA is expert in facilitating conversations and developing strategic plans that are transparent and collaborative in nature. Seventy city employees have already received training in these methods, and more than 250 residents and business owners participated in the daylong event. According to ICA-USA's Executive Director, Nino Tillman, "What ICA-USA provides the NPP is the means in which to hold efficient, consensus building conversations that value each voice. We help communities work together. Residents and local government can address common problems and come together to find solutions."
The Neighborhood Planning Process in Cedar Rapids will continue through May 2009 in a series of smaller neighborhood meetings as well as larger, citywide community gatherings.