View of Downtown Buffalo from the harbor
This spring, concerned regional citizens can gain practical
skills to mobilize their ideas into community action by enrolling
in the Citizen Planning School, a free resource being offered by
the School of Architecture and Planning.
Open to any resident of Erie or Niagara counties, the Citizen
Planning School is sponsored by the architecture school
through One Region
Forward, a federally funded, collaborative planning effort to
develop a roadmap for sustainable development in the bi-county
“The Citizen Planning School responds to increasing
interest among citizens to get involved in the decisions being made
about the future of the region. It’s about extending planning
to all members of our community as a tool for change,” says
Robert Shibley, dean of the architecture school and director of the
UB Regional Institute and Urban Design Project, which is playing a
lead role in the One Region Forward planning effort.
Community members can pursue two levels of training.
The “Citizen Planner” program offers training in key
planning issues and techniques over four sessions taught by local
practitioners and experts.
Citizens who want to advance a specific project or idea can
enroll in the advanced “Champion for Change” track. In
addition to the four core sessions, “Champion for
Change” students attend post-session workshops and receive
targeted technical assistance to organize community projects for
open through March 31, but space is limited. Sessions will take
place between April and June.
The Citizen Planning School is modeled around the principles of
sustainable development, including increasing transportation
access, improving food access and planning for a green economy.
Upon completion of the program, community members receive a
Citizen Planning Toolkit and are invited to attend an Action Summit
in fall 2014. Those in the “Champion for Change”
program will have the opportunity to present their community action
project at the summit.
“We have talked to thousands of citizens from across Erie
and Niagara counties as part of the One Region Forward
effort,” says Bart Roberts, research assistant professor at
the UB Regional Institute and manager of the One Region Forward
effort for the School of Architecture and Planning. “Those
conversations have shown just how knowledgeable and engaged our
public is today. The Citizen Planning School hopes to build on that
and offer more specific information and resources to help citizens
be agents for change in their local community and to implement the
emerging vision of One Region Forward.”
Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,
One Region Forward combines research and planning action with
public engagement. Project stakeholders have traversed the region
over the past year to engage community members in the plan and
collect public input on their vision for the region’s future,
particularly on issues of land use, climate action planning,
housing and neighborhood development, food access and
The effort, which builds on related planning efforts in the
region, is led by dozens of regional partners, including the
Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council, the
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Erie and Niagara
counties, the city of Buffalo and the city of Niagara Falls.