At its heart, planning serves the people. A successful planning or public design project should include thoughtful and responsive community engagement that empowers participants to contribute information, ask questions, probe deeply into ideas, learn from and teach their neighbors, express preferences, and critique design concepts. At the end of a good community workshop, participants should be tired. They should have talked more than they listened. They should feel respected and heard.

A typical workshop as run by Starr Whitehouse, for whom I designed many exercises and workshop agendas, creates opportunities for individual feedback as well as group work, and features no more than 20 minutes of presentations by staff. Some of the exercises from workshops I helped develop are featured in the photo gallery above. (Click an image to view at full size.)