Louisiana Speaks (Case Study)

Community Outreach & Voting Initiative Center for Planning Excellence

Overview.
Initiated in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the Louisiana Speaks planning process yielded a physical plan and policy framework that comprehensively address South Louisiana’s needs for recovery and smarter, safer, more sustainable growth.

Louisiana Speaks included the most extensive public outreach process ever undertaken for a planning project in the United States. More than 1,000 participants participated in six hands-on workshops and more than 23,000 citizens engaged in a Regional Vision Poll. The project utilized computer modeling to build and test the effects of different land use, transportation, storm protection and restoration scenarios for a variety of safety, livability, and transportation indicators. The scenarios represented possible futures based on historic patterns, emerging trends, and different policy directions.

The final Louisiana Speaks plan, which was adopted by the Louisiana Recovery Authority in 2007, lays out a clear path towards a more sustainable future for the 25,000 square mile South Louisiana region. It includes massive environmental restoration, and growth focused within existing cities and towns around targeted transit and storm protection investments.

STRATEGIES:

• 500,000 Louisiana Speaks newsletters and paper “ballots” distributed throughout South Louisiana

• 500 print, radio and TV paid advertisements broadcast across the region

• 204 community polling stations established through public libraries & coffee shops

• 100 public meetings held with citizens, community leaders & elected officials

• 6 editorial endorsements received from newspapers across the state

• 1 million e-mails distributed by LA Speaks and supporting businesses, churches, and community organizations through an aggressive “viral marketing” campaign

• Public school curriculum project created for all students in K-12 public schools and circulated to teachers across the state through

• Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB)

• Working with LPB, Louisiana Speaks also used voices from citizens and experts on all sides of the issues and cutting-edge computer animations

• to engage viewers in a one-hour TV show titled, “Our Voice. Our Plan. Our Future.”

RESULTS:

Louisiana Speaks recently concluded an extensive public outreach campaign to engage citizens across South Louisiana on a range of issues including community growth, transportation, coastal protection and economic development.  From January 22 through February 10, citizens had an opportunity to weigh-in through paper “ballots,” an online poll or phone survey.  

This campaign represents the largest and most inclusive regional planning outreach initiative ever conducted in the United States, generating 23,260 responses, including 1,300 ballots from residents living in 32 different states.  This response rate far exceeds similar efforts conducted in other parts of the US, including the long-term planning outreach initiative conducted in New York after September 11th.  

“Never before, have so many public, private, civic and faith-based organizations come together to make it possible for citizens to engage in planning for the future of our region,” said Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas.

Client Contact Information:

Louisiana Speaks (Center for Planning Excellence)

Elizabeth Thomas – President and CEO

402 N. 4th Street

Baton Rouge, LA 70802

(225) 267-6300

W. Anthony Patton (WAP) Agency, LLC was responsible for creating a print publication survey and outreach campaign for Louisiana Speaks. The print publication was a 10 page survey designed to give citizens of Louisiana the opportunity to have a voice in how the City, State, and Region would look after Hurricane Katrina. We then took the publication out into the community and assisted in finding Louisiana residents to have them complete the survey. The result of the survey yielded the largest turn-out of its kind in the State.

Highlights:

√ Most extensive public outreach process ever undertaken for a planning project in the United States

√ Computer Modeling & Voting on Scenarios

√ This campaign represents the largest and most inclusive regional planning outreach initiative ever conducted in the United States, generating 23,260 responses, including 1,300 ballots from residents living in 32 different states.

√ Human Outreach Focus – Primarily Focused on Diversity Outreach & Under Privileged

√ Major Governance Challenge—Multiple Entities

√ Exceedingly Complex Stakeholder Process with Over 1,000 Stakeholders across Louisiana

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