Envisioning Odessa Through Innovation

Trish Hatley

In West Texas, Project Manager Brandon Gonzalez has helped the City of Odessa energize public participation for the Envision Odessa Comprehensive Plan. “As we started the project we scoped out a number of meetings, and at first we didn’t have good attendance,” he says. Then they tried a completely different approach to public involvement. The team reached out to different sections of the community, holding meetings with African American and Latino residents as well as a downtown walking tour, changing meeting formats based on the demographic.

The downtown walking tour was held at a historic theater, where the team converted a sidewalk outside into a café, asking them to think about what it would look like as a patio and how such changes can bring life back to downtown’s streets. Brandon led the walking tour with before and after renderings, helping residents to imagine the potential for downtown first-hand. The downtown walking tour was covered in local news and on the American Planning Association website.

The team reached out to the Latino community with Spanish-language advertisements as well as a booth at the Fiesta West Texas Cinco de Mayo celebration. At Fiesta, they gathered input from 300 residents who were given the chance to win donated prizes for their feedback. “The community was just so excited about the plan and it was such a change from the beginning when no one was participating,” Brandon says.