People-first perspective for stronger communities
Large projects by nature lend themselves to a wide-angle view—like aerial shots of a project that show its span and scale. Yet the bigger the project, the greater the impact on those we can’t see in the frame—the people affected by it.
Our industry has come to expect tensions between people and progress, and we’ve gotten better at keeping concerned communities informed. But there’s a difference between informing and engaging people in planned projects, and the best path forward.
We think it’s important to focus more intently on people first, at the earliest concept stage, to learn about their everyday lives beyond the project—how they live and make a living, their priorities and aspirations, and how they connect with their communities.
Beyond informing project plans, stakeholder interactions should shape the concept at the very core—from purpose, to form and function. When we do that, we discover opportunities to strengthen connections between the project’s end users and the greater community.
For example, provisions like broadband internet access, a community garden or gathering space could make all the difference to convert project adversaries to advocates. The key is to put people before project by focusing first on the human purposes that matter to the community, and finding ways to serve them in the investment.