The City of Madison wants you to tell them what you desire for Madison in 10, 20, or even 30 years in the future. What are your hopes and dreams? What do you want to change? And how do we get there? You can be a part of that discussion as the City of Madison’s Imagine Madison is gathering the opinions of every Madisonian to plan for the healthier, more equitable and sustainable Madison of tomorrow.

Imagine Madison is a public-listening campaign designed to elicit the opinions of Madison residents regarding impactful community issues. “The input received by the City of Madison’s Planning Division through Imagine Madison will be used to update the city’s Comprehensive Plan,” says Brian Grady, the planner leader of this city-wide project of the City’s action plan for the future. “It’s required by state law.”
In the late ‘90s, Wisconsin passed the Smart Growth Law that required cities that do land use review and approval to have a comprehensive plan in the books. “The City in 2006 adopted their first comprehensive plan under the state law and they are required to be updated every 10 years, so here we are now at 2016,” Grady tells Madison365. “We’re required to look at different topic areas and different elements in that state law – things like housing, transportation, land use, community facilities, etc. It’s intended to be a long-range vision for the city. We’re looking out 20 years in the future, so it’s a long-term vision.”

Imagine Madison kicked off its public listening campaign last month with a roundtable discussion with community leaders. A primary goal of Imagine Madison is to reach, listen to, and record the ideas of a broad and diverse cross-section of the public on topics including housing, transportation, racial equity, sustainability and more.

“We’re trying to provide many different channels for people to provide input to help guide this process,” Grady says. “We really want to reach out to more people who are not typically involved in city planning processes. We are really trying to push out all of our materials in English, Spanish, and Hmong to make it easier for folks to participate. We’re trying to things different this time. When we did this back in 2006, we didn’t get a lot of input from a wide cross-section of the community. We’re trying to do a lot better job now.”

Madison has gotten more diverse since the ‘90s and even since 2006. “The Internet and social media are much more available and prominent now than it was back then so we’re definitely using Facebook and Twitter to reach more people efficiently,” he says. “Our website is interactive where people can give feedback easily.”

Grady says that they are investing in “Resident Panels” where the City has established partnerships with community groups with strong connections to historically underrepresented populations (i.e. African-Americans, Latinos, Hmong, lower-income residents, older adults). The Resident Panels will meet three or four times during 2017 to add their voices to the community conversation.

The City of Madison’s Imagine Madison campaign will also be holding public community meetings this week, the first will be tonight at the Central Library 3rd floor Community Room, 201 W Mifflin St. followed by one on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Village on Park Atrium Community Room, 2300 S Park St.

Both meetings will have identical schedules. The events will start with an open house from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. An interactive presentation from 6:15-7:15 p.m. will include a snapshot of the ways Madison is changing and a brief overview of the Imagine Madison campaign and the Comprehensive Plan. Community members will be asked to identify the most important goals for the community to guide the City’s Comprehensive Plan update. The meetings will culminate with an open house where residents can speak directly with City staff members.

“These won’t be like your typical City meetings; it’s going to be an interactive presentation,” Grady says. “People will have little clickers in their hands and will be asking questions along the way and they can provide multiple choice response to these questions. You can see the instant feedback up on the screen and that will help the dialog move along and it will be much more engaging than us talking to people for an hour or so.”

Refreshments and childcare will be available at the meetings, as will Spanish and Hmong interpretation services. The whole process for Imagine Madison should take about a year and a half, Grady says.

To find out more information about how to participate, complete an online survey, and find background data and trends about how Madison is changing. Residents can follow the process and participate in the conversation on Facebook For more information, you can also contact Kirstie Laatsch at (608)243-0470, Colin Punt at (608)243-0455, or Brian Grady at (608)261-9980 at the City of Madison Planning Division or e-mail [email protected].