I spent last Thursday and Friday in Woodstock, VT with a group of people invited by the Orton Foundation to discuss their "Heart and Soul" approach to planning. The invitation seemed to come out of the blue a few months ago, since I was aware of the Orton Foundation's work but not involved with them at all. Apparently they had seen my work on place blogging and wanted to have someone in the group who had experienve thinking about place and technology, but I went into the gathering a bit unsure of what I would have to contribute.
Most of the folks there were planners and community development types, heads of non-profits and foundations, and others with much more experience actually making places. I've just been sitting in front of my computer writing about people who write about places. But I was glad for the chance to hear how they talked about place
The Orton Family Foundation works to build vibrant and enduring communities. We help small cities and towns articulate, implement and steward their heart and soul assets so that they can adapt to change while enhancing the attributes they value most. The Foundation promotes inclusive, proactive decision-making and land use planning by providing guidance, tools, research, capital and other support to citizens and leaders.
"The need for a new approach is predicated on our belief that land use planning in America has yeet to live up to its full potential to engage a broad base of local citizens in defining and shaping the future of their communities. The traditional quantitative approach to planning generate and use important data about demographic and economic shifts, but frequently fail to account for the particular ways people relate to their surroundings, and usually ignore or discount the more nuanced information like shared values, beliefs, and quirky customs that strengthen community"