Center for Civic Innovation Launches Multi-year Initiative to Evaluate Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Unit System
IMPROVING COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN ATLANTA
On March 14th, 2019, the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) launched an independently-led, multi-year study and review of the city’s historic Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) system. The NPU Initiative kicked off at the Old City Council Chambers of Atlanta City Hall, where more than 200 community and city leaders from across Atlanta were in attendance. CCI’s goal of this initiative is to strengthen community engagement in Atlanta in partnership with a growing coalition of community organizations and individuals. CCI spent the past year conducting historical research and meeting with key stakeholders, including elected NPU leadership, city council members, mayoral representatives, and community-focused organizations. Over the next two years, the NPU Initiative will educate our fellow Atlanta residents about the history of community engagement in our city, analyze what is how engagement is happening today, and evaluate improvements for making it better.
The kickoff event featured a primer on the history of the NPUs, created early in the administration of Atlanta’s first African-American mayor, Maynard Jackson. A panel discussion followed with some of the original civic leaders involved at the time, including: Bunnie Jackson-Ransom, the City of Atlanta’s first black “First Lady” during her marriage to Mayor Maynard Jackson; Leon Eplan, the City of Atlanta’s first commissioner of the Department of Budget and Planning; and Joseph Drolet, a founder and past president of the Citywide League of Neighborhoods, a coalition created to support pro-neighborhood candidates in the 1973 election.
“A Neighborhood Planning Unit is the kind of organization where people can go and get to know what’s going on in their neighborhood. They can be as involved as they want to be. They can take a leadership role, and many community leaders have come out of NPUs,” said panelist Bunnie Jackson-Ransom who worked as a planner for Economic Opportunity Atlanta, an important precursor to the NPU system established during her late husband’s first term as mayor.
“Atlanta’s residents should shape the future of our city, and NPU system was created to do exactly that.” said Rohit Malhotra, Founder & Executive Director of the Center for Civic Innovation. “That’s why it’s so important to make sure it is working how people need it to be. This initiative won’t be perfect, but we’re committed to being honest and authentic along the way. We have to remember why we’re doing this: for people whose voices are often overshadowed and unheard. That has real-life consequences.”
The next few months will continue to be focused on meeting with potential partners and forming a coalition of partners for support, guidance, and accountability. The next phase of the NPU Initiative will involve a city-wide survey of Atlanta residents on how they engage with local government, including interactions with the NPU system. Simultaneously, the coalition will attend meetings and conduct a thorough assessment of all 25 NPUs, work with key stakeholders to gain deeper insight into community engagement challenges and opportunities, and develop and implement a city-wide education program of “NPU 101” events.
For a month in-depth look at what happened during our NPU Initiative launch event on March 14th, visit the full video live stream from the event below and download our presentation. You can also listen to the panel conversation on the go, using Soundcloud!
About The Center for Civic Innovation:
The Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization that empowers people to shape the future of our city. Our mission is to empower people to shape the future of our city by designing local public policy from the ground up.
About the NPU Initiative:
The NPU Initiative is a multi-year study and review of Atlanta’s historic Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) system. While we forever love Atlanta, the NPU Initiative is independent from the City of Atlanta government. It is led by a growing coalition of partner organizations seeking to improve community engagement in our city.
Learn more about the NPU Initiative: npu.civicatlanta.org