Making public meetings mobile: Bringing text polling to Logan Square - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Making public meetings mobile: Bringing text polling to Logan Square

E. Hedman

Community outreach can be challenging.

The plaza just above the Logan Square Blue Line station is on the cusp of change, thanks to the Chicago Transit Authority’s $492 million renovation of its O’Hare Branch to speed commute times. 35th Ward Alderman Rey Colón has invited the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) to conduct a hands-on series of workshops that will help ensure that the community has some influence on upcoming development around the Logan Square station, including the plaza and the adjacent parking lot on Emmett Street.

Development site, adjacent to Logan Square Blue Line station

Metropolitan Planning Council

This series of workshops, referred to as the Corridor Development Initiative, is a participatory planning process that allows communities to proactively engage with real-world development scenarios. Each workshop gives attendees hands-on experience to help them understand issues such as density, affordable housing and the true cost of development, while creating a set of priorities to guide community leaders as they plan for future development in their neighborhoods. The three community meetings take place over a span of several weeks; this process is facilitated by MPC, led by Alderman Colón and supported by many local community organizations.

We’re excited to bring these workshops to Logan Square, and also excited about a new public engagement tool we’ll be using.

While at the American Planning Association National Planning Conference in Atlanta earlier this year, I attended some great sessions that discussed innovative solutions to challenges in public engagement and ways to improve turnout, reduce bias in representation and increase the value community participants take from their input.

Posters at bus stops can engage commuters outside of a traditional community meeting setting.

One of these solutions is text polling. Through a partnership with Smart Chicago Collaborative and Textizen, MPC is exploring text polling as a tool to communicate with the community during our workshop process. Participants who opt in receive survey questions and workshop meeting reminders via text. Textizen has been used by thousands of people in dozens of cities to, as their website states, “bring people to public participation wherever they are.” The objectives of using the text polling are:

  1. Drive people to the workshops
  2. Ask for public input on the development site
  3. Understand the demographics of the groups that don’t come to meetings
  4. Capture anonymous input more widely

We’re looking forward to the upcoming workshops in Logan Square and testing out text polling as an expansion of our outreach process. We invite you to come join us to witness this unique meeting series.

Meetings will take place at the Hairpin Arts Center, 2810 N. Milwaukee Avenue, from 6 to 8 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, September 9
  • Tuesday, September 16
  • Tuesday, September 30

Come join us at the meetings and give voice to your vision for Logan Square!

Want to participate in our text poll?

Text the letter of your top choice to (773) 340-4232:

I’d like to see more _______________ in Logan Square.

A. Open Space
B. Arts and Art Centers
C. Affordable housing
D. Entertainment venues
E. Grocery options.

At the meetings themselves, we'll discuss these options and many more in detail.


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