What is it? A charette is a tool for involving the public in developing a community plan. Over a short, intense period, community resident work to share ideas, assess alternatives, and make recommendations for future directions. The open process, with multiple opportunities for citizen input, helps establish the legitimacy of decisions reached. While consultants or process experts usually help design a local charette, the process can also be very useful in uncovering and utilizing the expertise and unique local knowledge of inhabitants. A charette can be planned and implemented much faster than many more traditional public involvement strategies.
How has it been used? The Gentilly Civic Improvement Association, in partnership with other community activists in District 6 of New Orleans, came together after Hurricane Katrina to create a neighborhood plan. Aided by the Congress for the New Urbanism, residents selected a charette process as the best way to accomplish their goals. Over nine days, residents produced a plan for the future of Gentilly, along with implementation steps, and a description of how it connected with other city plans. The process included seven formal meetings, and a number of informal gatherings. The process was remarkable for delivering an inclusive and, comprehensive picture of the neighborhood’s preferred future, in a very short amount of time. The product, while nonbinding, constitutes a dramatic statement of what local inhabitants want for their place. (Source: Gentilly Civic Improvement Association)