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Public Engagement in Shelby, NC

Shelby, NC is ON THE MOVE.

The City of Shelby, NC and Destination by Design are partnering on a Comprehensive Parks & Recreation Master Plan that examines existing recreation offerings and recommends additions, upgrades, and changes to improve the City’s recreation for the future.

DbD is helping cast a vision for a recreation system comprised of open space, multi-use trails, shelters, a dog park, and a splash pad -all along an interconnected greenway network that is anchored by the developing Shelby Rail Trail.

Our extensive public outreach for this project is setting it apart as we gather broad input on what citizens want to see their parks become. 

Watch this video to see our public workshops in action:

To publicize the planning effort, DbD developed a playful project brand called SHELBY ON THE MOVE, a plan website, promotional videos, and Facebook promotions. 

To ensure that the final plan reflects the citizen’s desires, we implemented a multi-faceted engagement strategy, including an online survey, stakeholder meetings, and three community workshops. 

How do you play in Shelby?

In order to gather the insights necessary to create an effective, community-driven plan, our team began with a simple question: How do you play in Shelby?

As Tim Johnson, DbD’s Senior Planner on the Shelby project explains, “Our public outreach approach is to directly engage people that the City of Shelby serves though Parks and Recreation and give them a chance to voice their ideas about how they want to improve recreation over the coming decades.”

To ensure a final plan that reflects the desires of Shelby residents and visitors, DbD implemented a multi-faceted engagement strategy to collect public input.

Engaging Online and On the Ground

To bring awareness to the planning process and public input opportunities, we created a playful project brand, plan website, Facebook ads, and promotional videos that featured Shelby Parks and Recreation Department staff and facilities. These media publicized the planning effort as well as an accompanying online survey and three community workshops conducted in neighborhoods around the City.  

Using multiple engagement tools allows us a variety of lenses to understand the community’s recreation needs. The online survey serves to gather thoughts and opinions from as many people as possible, whereas focus groups target individuals with specific insights into local issues and opportunities. But context matters. Just because something rises to the top in the survey doesn’t mean it outweighs feedback from a focus group, and vice-versa.   

Visit our “Shelby On the Move” Masterplan Website

Make it Visual, Fun, Interactive

Our goal at DbD is to create effective and compelling plans, which means making the planning process visual, interactive, and fun. Any firm can cross the T’s and dot the I’s for a project, but we’re not just any firm.

“Even in a culture inundated with technology and digital interactions, it’s crucial to include opportunities for face-to-face engagement with the public in order to maximize our outreach efforts. Of course there are some people who don’t participate in social media or have easy access to technology, but a lot of people may not feel like they’re heard unless talking directly to another person.”


-Tim Johnson, Senior Planner, Destination by Design

Not Your Average Workshop

Three community workshops were held in neighborhoods across the City to gain insight into Shelby’s recreation needs.  Each workshop was anchored by interactive stations designed to engage community members in a fun and inspiring way.

One of the most popular stations at these neighborhood workshops was a “How do you play?” photo booth,  designed to give folks a chance to express their support for parks and recreation in a highly visual way, show us how they like to play, and perhaps most importantly, have fun!

The Committee Steers the Ship

One of the most crucial components of any project of this magnitude is a Project Steering Committee. In addition to an online survey, focus groups, and community workshops, the City and DbD relied on a project steering committee comprised of diverse stakeholders to guide plan recommendations based on public input.

As outside consultants, we can provide unique insights and capacity to take the public engagement process to the next level, but ultimately City staff and locals must be the true champions and voice of the plan.

As always, this project would not be possible without close involvement and constant support from the local staff and residents. We are grateful for the City of Shelby’s valuable insights into their community and the project as a whole.  

Maintaining public engagement even after the plan is delivered will put Shelby in a position of great potential. By listening to its citizens and giving physical presence to their ideas, a City encourages more participation and input from the community in the future. And we’ve gotta say–the future is looking pretty bright in Shelby, North Carolina.

Watch The Shelby On the Move Master Plan Video:

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