Focus on Community 2018
Focus on Community is a day-and-a-half symposium for transportation planning and project development professionals who engage communities in the planning and making of plans and projects. The symposium supports planning, public involvement, sociocultural effects evaluations, community impact assessments, Title VI, environmental justice programs, and both metropolitan and non-metropolitan planning programs. The workshop is offered free of charge to participants. Focus on Community 2018 is currently planned to take place the second week of December 2018 in a hotel in the Orlando area.
Focus on Community is intended as an annual opportunity for professional development and information exchange. The targeted audience includes FDOT staff such as Intermodal System Development (ISD) Managers, Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Liaisons, environmental staff and planners, public information officers, local government and rural liaisons. In addition, other participants include MPO staff, transportation consultants, planners, and local government elected officials and staff. Speakers are invited based on their expertise and experience in the topic areas.
The program addresses a critical training requirement which results from staff turnover and changing laws affecting the programs. The program also provides listening opportunities for the Office of Policy Planning to hear of achievements and concerns from the FDOT Districts and our partners across the state. This exchange of ideas helps to identify innovations and opportunities for consistency in practices. It also promotes engagement with our partner organizations who are involved in creating and implementing the Florida Transportation Plan (FTP) and other statewide planning efforts.
Sessions address topics leading participants through the process of community engagement and provide opportunities for practitioners to learn, explore, and discuss issues, ideas, and practices that sharpen their focus on people and their communities. Topics and session objectives fall under the following categories:
Planning for community engagement: Early, continuous, and appropriate engagement helps to build trust and acceptance from the public, as well as foster a community’s willingness to participate in the transportation planning process. Sessions cover various techniques planning for engaging the public and methods for identifying the optimal ways to keep the public involved throughout project development.
Identifying and engaging the people in the community: The first step to community engagement is learning who lives, works, and frequents the project area. Sessions discuss data sources and analysis techniques for obtaining a big picture understanding of the community, as well as best practices for drilling down to discover population groups not revealed by the data. This helps identify public outreach strategies focused on the specific community, including hard-to-reach populations.
Understanding what’s important to a community: One of the purposes of an effective public engagement process is getting to an understanding of the values, goals, and aspirations of the community. These sessions cover practices on how to gain a true and deep understanding of the community’s values, as well as how to use that information to identify and assess potential transportation impacts and context-sensitive solutions.