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Why Scenario Planning Is A Must-Have Tool For Urban Planners: Interview With Janae Futrell

Why Scenario Planning Is A Must-Have Tool For Planners: Interview With Janae Futrell

As disruptive trends continue to reshape communities -- and the planning profession -- Janae Futrell of CivicSphere is among the foremost leaders in rethinking civic engagement, analysis and new directions for decision support.  

Why is scenario planning such as hot topic right now?

Every moment in history, as well as the present, has aspects of change by default. On balance, the last 10 years or so has been characterized by upheavals, disruptions, and impactful change not only in one area of everyday life, but many. Disaster events are more frequent and more devastating, by some measures. Climate change is impacting water resources, agricultural production, and livable land areas, among other impacts. Technology is changing how people interact with each other, spearheading major economic shifts, and changing daily life for many. Not only that, but these issues intersect with each other in ways that are challenging to fully comprehend - leading to a high level of uncertainty and hesitation to make decisions. This is natural, because is seems sometimes that there are few solid objects to hold onto; one cannot assume certain elements will always be in place and remain relavent. As city planners, we have an imperative to consider all of this, and any method, tool, or technique that can help us navigate this is welcome. 


2) Tell us a bit more about the Scenario Planning Consortium - and what is means for planners

The Consortium for Scenario Planning is a group of rural and urban planning professionals passionate about how scenario planning can help the planing profession navigate major uncertainties. It helps train planners to think, in advance and during strategic planning phases potentially, about all the trends and factors impacting the issues at hand. It helps them act in a more agile and responsive fashion as realities change. Ultimately, it helps them to become more resilient in the face of change. The Consortium accomplishes this through various initiatives - some are focused on education and training, while others are focused on improvements in the state of scenario planning practice as well as peer exchange. 

3 With CivicSphere, how could a city or county going through a planning process use your help?

Civic Sphere offers scenario planning services to help local governments identify uncertainties and tracks the courses they may take. This aids in structuring general tactics for any uncertainty or path while identifying specific tactics to deploy in certain situations. This can be a component of a larger project or a stand-alone project. Civic Sphere complements its scenario planning services with related services in systems thinking and technology integration. This means that scenarios will, by default, have a systems thinking perspective to clarify how issues are interrelated and interdependent. in addition, technology is considered within the wider picture as a contributor to uncertainty in many cases, but also a solution, depending on the project and context. 

See Civic Sphere's Marketplace portfolio  and Janae's contact information.