The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) are working with communities in the Charlottesville and Albemarle urban core to envision and implement a comprehensive network of connective bicycle and pedestrian trails and greenways. The project is supported by a Strengthening Systems grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.
PEC is taking the lead on a robust campaign of community engagement and mobilization to collect information and build support for TJPDC ‘s already-underway Jefferson Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. This involves both data collection and community organizing. Successful projects with equitable outcomes involve the people they serve at a deep level and that is what we are doing.
Phase One of the project will end in the Autumn of 2018 with a combined community area bike/pedestrian plan. It will be a traditional planning document with research-based recommendations on routes, resources and timetables. It will also be a statement of community values and priorities. Its findings will reflect the community’s desires–and we haven’t learned those yet.
It is likely that the plan will identify a finite number of corridors or strategic opportunities, prioritize them based on cost/benefit (which includes desirability), and identify a few for immediate action. To the extent possible within the project scope, we will identify specific resources and action steps for implementation.
No plan means very much if it stays on the shelf and this project is designed to bring a long-latent vision to fruition. Phase Two (which begins in late 2018) will mobilize the community network from Phase I to drive legislative action, fundraising and on-the-ground implementation. All of the ingredients for a world-class network of greenways that connect our community are already present in Charlottesville and Albemarle. The community rightly expects positive change today and this project will marshall those forces and keep them focused going forward. The work will surely need to continue past the project’s current Autumn 2019 end date.
How are we doing our outreach?
Charlottesville/Albemarle is full of smart people who are passionate and have been thinking through the related issues and many have honed ideas to share. We also acknowledge that there are many whose voices have not always been heard or who don’t self-identify as activists. We are connecting with both.
We started with an advisory group comprised of professionals who bring experience and institution-level resources to the project. There are staff and representatives from the City, County, and Commonwealth, and others with related areas of expertise. We have a broad view of the project and its implications and there are representatives from organizations working on affordable housing, public health, fitness, education, human and economic development, heritage, and the environment. We meet with them periodically as a group and check in with each of them regularly. That group is evolving and will continue to do so over time.
We meet almost daily with community leaders, activists and stakeholders individually and in small groups. These discussion bring ideas, perspectives and resources. Everyone’s opinion matters and we would be glad to hear from you (just email Peter Krebs at email@example.com). We also host occasional events such as our kickoff, cypherways, webinar viewings, and more. Check our Facebook group for the latest scheduled gatherings.
We’re not waiting for ideas to come to us and we’re not just listening to the “usual suspects.” We are getting out into communities where people are and talking to them in settings where they are comfortable. We are showing up at neighborhood meetings, community events and celebrations. We are allying with community champions and actively seeking new perspectives. When appropriate we will have translators.
Why are we doing this?
Trails and greenways connect people to employment, education, recreation and provide opportunities for fellowship and self-improvement in a restorative, natural environment. Communities that are connected by trails and greenways are healthier, more socially cohesive and more prosperous. Benefits include community health, economic development, social cohesion, reduced traffic, a cleaner environment, increased tourism, and more transportation options.
Charlottesville and Albemarle are one community. Like the natural systems on which we all depend, our lives transcend municipal and social boundaries. By working together and bringing as many perspectives as we can, we will devise a sound plan with broad-based support. That robust support network will also provide energy for implementation over several years and ultimately own the result.
How you can help
- Sign our petition to add your voice to the call for a more connected community
- Indicate your routes and destinations and obstacles with TJPDC’s WikiMap
- Help us get the word out through your social network
- Suggest other voices that should be part of the discussion
- Invite us to one of your events or meetings
- Join the discussion on our Facebook group
- Volunteer your time, talents and skills. We need all the help we can get!
- Share your ideas and vision! (send an email to Peter Krebs at firstname.lastname@example.org)