Empowering positive change.

We help small Iowa communities bridge the gap between the demand and availability of design resources needed to improve transportation systems.

The Community Visioning Program integrates landscape planning and design with sustainable action to empower community leaders and volunteers in making sound, meaningful decisions about the local landscape.

Anchored by a committee of local residents, communities work closely with technical experts from Trees Forever, a private-sector landscape architect, and the Iowa State University Department of Landscape Architecture to create a transportation enhancement plan reflecting the values and identity of the community.

Throughout the process, the committee identifies and investigates the physical and cultural dimensions of landscape issues, sets goals for change, and develops implementation strategies for meeting community goals.

Successful completion of the visioning process results in a transportation enhancement plan and implementation strategies that empower communities to build meaningful townscapes, step by step, as resources become available.

Core Services

Planning The visioning process is participatory planning in which the local steering committee identifies and prioritizes transportation enhancement goals based on research conducted by Iowa State University and input gathered from the public. A professional landscape architect develops a conceptual design that illustrates these goals.

Research Iowa State University project staff conducts assessments of the local bioregion for each community. Project staff and design interns facilitate focus groups and photo mapping with different transportation user groups to identify community assets and barriers. Larger communities are surveyed to learn about transportation-related needs and behaviors.

Education The steering committees learn how to interpret the bioregional and transportation assessments, allowing them to make more informed decisions about improving the transportation system. In addition, the program provides real-world experience for landscape architecture students who intern with professional consultants.

Facilitation A Trees Forever field coordinator works closely with the local steering committee and the professional landscape architect to guide the visioning process. The field coordinator is the "glue" that keeps the participants on track through the planning process and maintains contact with the committee after completion.

Our Impact

ABOUT 98% OF VISIONING COMMUNITIES COMPLETE AT LEAST ONE PROJECT.

NEARLY 50% OF VISIONING COMMUNITIES COMPLETE FOUR OR MORE PROJECTS.

NEARLY 75% OF COMMUNITIES FUNDED PROJECTS THROUGH LOCAL VOLUNTEERS.

NEARLY 85% OF VISIONING STEERING COMMITTEES ARE STILL ACTIVE IN SOME WAY.

REPRESENTATIVES FROM 63% OF COMMUNITIES REPORTED THAT THE PROGRAM HAD A POSITIVE IMPACT ON THEIR TOWN.

MORE THAN 60% OF THOSE COMMUNITIES REPORTED THAT THE PROGRAM POSITIVELY AFFECTED AESTHETICS AND THE ECONOMY.

OF THOSE COMMUNITIES, 100% IDENTIFIED IMPROVED QUALITY OF LIFE AS A POSITIVE IMPACT.

Our Leadership

Julia Badenhope

Julia Badenhope

Principal Investigator and Program Director

Julia has been a member of the Iowa State University landscape architecture faculty since 1993. She established and piloted the participatory planning process that became the Community Visioning Program. Her scholarship focuses on how design empowers people to create a healthier and more meaningful environment.

Sandra Oberbroeckling

Project Manager and Extension Program Specialist

Sandra joined the Community Visioning Program as project manager in August 2000. Since 2007, she has been a part of the ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development unit. Her areas of interest are communication strategies for community engagement, social learning theory, participatory planning, and evaluation.

Matthew Gordy

Director at Iowa State University’s Community Visioning Program

Matthew Gordy is the Studio Director at Iowa State University's Community Visioning Program and was formerly Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at Iowa State University's College of Design. Matthew draws from his professional practice and academic experience, and interest in effective visual communication strategies to lead the production and design studio, and coordinate our student internship program.

Our Partners

Iowa Department of Transportation

WWW.IOWADOT.GOV

The Iowa Department of Transportation has funded the Iowa’s Living Roadways (ILR) programs, including the Community Visioning Program, since 1996. The Division of Planning, Programming, and Modal administers, advises, and supports the ILR programs.

The Iowa DOT considers public participation an important part of transportation projects because it offers “Iowans the opportunity to help identify transportation issues, needs and priorities; plan how to meet those needs and priorities; and select transportation projects that turn the plans into reality.”

Trees Forever

WWW.TREESFOREVER.ORG

Since it was founded by two volunteers in 1989, Trees Forever has planted more than three million trees and engages an average of 7,000 volunteers every year in Iowa and Illinois. Trees Forever achieves its mission to plant and care for trees and the environment by empowering people, building community and promoting stewardship by coordinating hands-on planting projects, leading stakeholder planning and collaboration efforts, empowering volunteers to become leaders in their communities, and articulating the environmental, economic and social benefits that trees and other native plants provide to our communities.

Landscape Architects

Each visioning community is matched with a landscape architect who provides professional expertise that allows the community to visualize solutions for landscape development. Unlike the typical service provider–client relationship in which the client is a passive recipient dependent upon the service provider for the final product, the relationship between the landscape architect and the community committee in the Community Visioning process is collaborative partnership.

The landscape architect provides the community with a concept plan illustrated with maps, drawings and photos, and digital images, as well as a feasibility study that includes costs estimates for each proposed enhancement, phasing options, and implementation strategies.

Interns

Student interns play an integral role in the Community Visioning process. During the community assessment process, design students work with the ISU project staff to develop a set of bioregional maps for each community. They also assist in facilitating transportation assets and barriers workshops in the visioning communities, which consist of focus groups and a photo-mapping activity. These interns receive comprehensive training in research-based planning methods.

In addition, the visioning landscape architects hire interns to assist in the design of the community concept plans. The interns work in a professional office setting, as well as directly with the client community, gaining practical experience as part of a design team working with an actual client. In addition, the interns learn valuable technical skills that will be useful in their future professional practices.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development Program

WWW.EXTENSION.IASTATE.EDU/COMMUNITIES

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) program empowers communities to shape their own futures through research, education, community engagement, economic development, community planning and design.

CED promotes the vision to accommodate quality growth in communities across the state. Local business owners, community leaders and residents benefit from the research and expertise of faculty and field specialists.