Mobile, AL
Comprehensive Plan

The City of Mobile, Alabama has many strengths, including its rich history, position as one of the Gulf Coast’s cultural centers, and relationship to the economic engine of the Port of Mobile. At the same time, it is challenged by issues such as traffic congestion and inadequate transportation infrastructure, disinvestment in certain neighborhoods, and an uneven distribution of community amenities and resources throughout the city. While many small neighborhood plans have been completed recently, Mobile had not updated its Comprehensive Plan in over twenty years. City leaders initiated Map for Mobile to knit together the various recent plans, and create an integrated and implementable city-wide plan for long-term preservation, revitalization and growth. As part of a team led by Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, planning NEXT designed and facilitated the first phase of community engagement for the plan.

Extensive publicity and outreach

The team was faced with the challenge of generating awareness and excitement about the process in the face of community apathy and “planning fatigue.” Planning NEXT designed and facilitated a communications strategy (including project identity, collateral, website, and media strategy), complemented by a robust word-of-mouth outreach strategy. The outreach aimed to reach all community groups through three overlapping dimensions, geographic, demographic and civic.

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A robust online campaign supported by traditional media created interest and enthusiasm for the process.

Participation that shattered expectations

All expectations were shattered when over 500 people turned out for The Focus on the Future Workshop to kick-off the public process. Participants worked in small groups to generate Ideas for the Future of Mobile and to identify strong and weak places in the community through a map-based activity.

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Custom online activity

This first round of input continued on the project website designed and managed by planning NEXT. An additional 200 participants submitted ideas for the future and identified strong and weak places in the city through a custom-designed map application.

The composite strong places/weak places map contains over 2,600 unique data points, identifying places in the city and their characteristics.