Katherine Leigh Wolf, MUP 2018

Summer 2017

Organization: Boston Planning & Development Agency, Boston, MA

Sponsor: Joint Center for Housing Studies Community Service Fellowship

Planning with Glover’s Corner

” On June 28th, the BPDA Community Planning Team hosted a planning workshop as its third community engagement meeting since the launch of the PLAN: Glover’s Corner initiative. The workshop focused on working with residents to identify perceptions of the neighborhood in terms of existing qualities of the study area, and what residents and community members expect as they look towards the future.

The vision for the workshop was to apply the logic behind a SWOT analysis, an activity typically used in corporate settings, to dive deeper into the current conditions of the study area and how these could impact the neighborhood in the short term or decades down the road. I was tasked with designing an activity that would allow attendees to perform the analysis in small groups.

It was important for myself and the Community Planning Team to create strong definitions to frame how a SWOT analysis could be applied as a community planning strategy. Instead of focusing our analysis in terms of elements that either internally or externally effect say, a business, we chose to think about the study area in terms of current and future conditions. This allowed us to pose questions and create examples that explored the existing strengths and weaknesses of the neighborhood, and to ask residents to project those qualities out into the future.

Through this activity, we were able to build a discussion that allowed both community members and city staff to think creatively about the implications of, for example, the study area’s proximity to the T and its desirability for residential development. While development pressures were front and center for most, the SWOT analysis helped us to think as a group how the desirability of the location in terms of residential development could be leveraged to bring new amenities, such as parks and open space, to the neighborhood.

From here, the Community Planning Team will take a brief summer break, and continue to host community meetings in the fall. These upcoming workshops will begin narrowing the focus from the visioning sessions hosted earlier in the spring, to begin talking about how some of the opportunities discussed in the SWOT analysis could be realized on the ground.”