How to Get Community Support for Your Education Project
I recently met with a superintendent whose district was pursuing substantial building changes. She shared conceptual plans and elevations and then dropped the bomb. She wasn’t particularly tied to any of the concepts. She felt there was not community support. When she spoke with others in the community, the consensus was to step back, prioritize, and reassess.
While I don’t have all the details, it was apparent this project lacked a vision.
When it comes to discussing school facilities, we instinctively jump into talks about bricks and mortar. We are spatial people. It’s easier to talk about tangibles.
However, tangibles quickly can become the source of controversy where one’s needs may be considered another’s wants.
- I need more outlets in this classroom!
- Can’t we do something about the fact I am either roasting or freezing in here?
- This building just does not have enough storage!
Creates excitement! Excitement leads to participation and ownership. With broad-based engagement, the likelihood of developing a vision that is backed by your community greatly increases.
Establishes the cornerstone for the entire decision-making. If your vision statement is created and adopted by the community, it stands above individual agendas and other initiatives.
Offers transparency. Use your vision statement in a transparent manner as a project sounding board to validate all decisions.
Provides a rallying cry. Let your vision be the slogan for your external communities (city, neighbors, parents and boosters) and internal communities (students, faculty and staff). Keep your vision simple so it’s easily remembered and shared. Remember your vision is an aspiration. It is where you want to be, not where you are at now.
Starting with your vision may seem to take longer. However, doing so allows the tangibles fall into place and the process will move forward more smoothly.
That sets you up for success.
<< Back to Blog Listing
| Andrew Iverson, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP BD+C
I believe that a quality education is the greatest gift we can give our youth. As an architect and education facility planner, I can directly contribute to the quality of education through the design of learning environments that are safe, healthy and support a wide range of learning styles. Students, faculty and staff appreciate my responsiveness to their needs. With a calm approach that eases tensions during tough moments, I am allowed to bring these communities together, build understanding, and make such facilities a reality.