Playing a game... planning a future

A central challenge of public engagement is educating people about the trade-offs inherent to any project. If you spend more money "here", there will be less money "there". If you focus on "this", there will be fewer resources left for "that". Every plan comes with a give-and-take that must be understood for effective decision-making.

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Bringing these truths to light is the FlipSides online activity, recently used by Imagine Central Arkansas for their regional 30-year plan, and highlighted last week on EngagingCities. "Are we there yet?" asks the game, as it takes participants on a journey through different trends, priorities, and decisions that would ultimately influence the completion of various transportation goals for the area.

Residents were temporarily in the driver's seat, indicating their personal opinions and preferences, while responsive infographics delivered immediate feedback about how their decisions would affect the project timeline. "Are we there yet?" served as a valuable outreach tool for Imagine Central Arkansas, while citizens of the area gained a deeper appreciation of the complexities of public planning. You could say that in this game, everybody wins!