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PlanET Looks to East Tennesseans to Gauge Regional Strengths, Challenges

December 1, 2011 | More News

PlanET Forum Series 1

During the week of November 14th, PlanET hosted a series of six regional forums in each of the PlanET counties - Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Union. The meetings were open to the public and focused on assessing what participants see as the primary strengths and challenges in the region.

Working in small groups, citizens identified regional assets and challenges. Each group's ideas were submitted to the forum as a whole and 10 to 15 common themes were identified. Participants then used real-time polling to vote on their top three assets and top three challenges. The results of that polling will be posted to the PlanET websitein the near future.

These forums were the first in a series of five rounds, an initial step in creating a public-guided vision for the five-county region. Additional rounds will be held over the next 24 months, with the next series slated to begin in early spring.

For anyone not able to participate in the first round of forums, it is not too late to join the discussion. PlanET offers other opportunities to be heard. One such opportunity, called Meeting in a Box, is essentially a take-home version of the regional forums. A Meeting in a Box "kit" contains instruction sheets for the host/facilitator, sample meeting invitations, discussion questions, worksheets for participant responses, feedback questionnaires, and directions for recording and returning responses. PlanET team members or community volunteers can use Meeting in a Box to work with citizen groups on their own schedule, at a location of their choosing. The kit can be downloaded from the PlanET website.

PlanET has also launched a "virtual town-hall," allowing the discussion that occurred at the forums to continue online. Called MindMixer, this web-based tool will allow users to respond to the same questions discussed in the first round of community meetings. Users are able to submit comments, view and comment on others' responses, and vote on ideas.

Public comment and feedback are a critical part of the PlanET process. PlanET will use the regional forums, Meeting in a Box, and MindMixer, along with a number of other methods, to ensure that input properly represents our diverse region.

For more information, visit PlanET online at www.planeasttn.org.

Posted 12-02-2011, written by Amy Brooks and Alan Huff