We Heard from You in 2017!

2017 was a big year for A Greater Madison Vision! With an engaged steering committee, a solid understanding of the region’s big trends and issues, and a diverse set of strategies, we set out to learn what you thought the future could and should be like in the Greater Madison Region.

We engaged directly with 916 people in workshops and at tabling events. Online, people interacted with our website, social media posts, and survey questions a combined 6,302 times. Staff and Steering Committee members presented to 37 different stakeholder groups, reaching a total audience of 626 local leaders. All told, we had more than 7,000 different points of engagement in 2017!

We learned a lot from all this valuable engagement across a wide variety of groups, events, and platforms. Keep reading to get summaries of what you told us in 2017!


Driving Forces

Photo courtesy of United Way of Dane County

In our Driving Forces workshops and surveys, we talked to 272 people over the course of the spring and summer of 2017. We were able to whittle down a long list of trends, innovations, and ideas that could influence our lives in the future! Check out our Driving Forces page to see the list.

We were able to gather several common themes and issues from across these discussions:

  • Education as a vehicle for modeling inclusivity, equity, and critical thinking skills
  • Enhance collaboration among business, education, and social service organizations to address impacts
  • Getting people to services, or getting services to people?
  • Need for a more comprehensive regional transit system that extends beyond the central Madison area
  • Emphasis on services rather than infrastructure (specifically regarding health care, but applies over multiple categories)
iPlan Greater Madison

Screenshot from iPlan workshop

In our ten iPlan workshops, we asked a total of 124 participants to make development maps of the region that make room for at least as much population and job growth as we’re expecting over the next 30 years. The game provides a wide range of ways to accomplish that goal, but the catch is that various interest groups will oppose your map if it negatively affects the issue they are most concerned about. We saw participants use various approaches to making their maps, and the workshops prompted rich and lively conversations that reflect an increased understanding of the tradeoffs involved in regional planning for growth and development.

Imagine Madison

Courtesy of City of Madison Planning Division

The City of Madison is currently undertaking a major update of its comprehensive plan, an initiative called Imagine Madison. AGMV staffers collaborated with city planning staff by sharing resources, working together on survey questions, and contributing data and displays to events and workshops. Imagine Madison gave grants and resources to community groups to hold “Resident Panel” conversations about the future of the city. The city reached out to groups and organizations from communities typically underrepresented in planning efforts. As a result, their discussions and feedback were a great opportunity for both the City of Madison and A Greater Madison Vision to learn about how people from diverse communities and backgrounds view the future. Many thanks to Imagine Madison and the Resident Panel participants!

Hip Hop Architecture

Photo Credit: Madison365

We also used our neighborhood model blocks at the Hip Hop Architecture Camp sessions at the Madison Public Library in February 2017. This innovative and award-winning program to introduce youth to the built environment and how it impacts their lives through hip hop music, run by Madison-based architect Michael Ford, provided a rich environment in which to introduce neighborhood and community design concepts. AGMV and Imagine Madison staff joined Mr. Ford and around 40 young participants on four Saturdays in February.

Camp participants showed us how they would go about creating the neighborhoods of the future. One of the biggest takeaways from the sessions was how many participants placed essential community services and gathering spaces, like community centers and grocery stores, at the figurative and literal center of their model neighborhoods.


Photo by CARPC staff

AGMV staff, interns, and volunteers set up informational tables at the Dane County Fair, several different outdoor markets, the Hmong New Year celebration, and many other events. We also provided information at public meetings for Imagine Madison, the City of Madison’s comprehensive plan update process. We interacted with over 520 people at tabling events this summer, including nearly 400 at the five-day Dane County Fair. Attendees of all the events at which AGMV was present were able to interact with our model block neighborhoods, tell us about their most important driving forces of future change, and help us understand how they envision their future in the Greater Madison Region.

One of the most important lessons we learned from tabling was how much where we live now influences where we see ourselves in the future. At the Dane County Fair, many of the visitors to our table live in more rural areas. When asked to show in a set of model neighborhoods where they see themselves living in the future, the majority of them picked places that were as rural or even more rural than where they live now. A significant number of kids under 18 picked low-density suburban places, while many of their parents (and other younger adults) valued the privacy and closeness to nature in rural living. Older adults tended to be split between rural areas and urban neighborhoods. People’s choices of future neighborhoods at the Dane County Fair stood in contrast with table visitors at more urban events, who tended to pick denser, more urban places. These valuable outreach opportunities got people thinking about the future of their communities and helped remind us of the broad range of perspectives about neighborhoods, community, amenities, and access to nature across the Greater Madison Region.


On top of reaching out to the broader community, we engaged with groups, communities, and organizations with a particular interest in one or more elements of regional planning. This includes municipalities, social service providers, business and development groups, economic development professionals, agricultural groups, environmental organizations, and more. In 2017, we gave presentations to and took questions from 37 different groups, reaching a total of 626 stakeholders. Many of these outreach efforts led to more sustained relationships. For example, a presentation to one civic group on Madison’s west side got members engaged enough that they invited staff back for an iPlan exercise, and staff engagement with a social issues class at Madison’s LaFollette High School prompted the teacher to start developing a curriculum for teaching about local government and decision making that could be shared with other schools.

Special Events

Photo by CARPC staff

In May, A Greater Madison Vision partnered with the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) to host a discussion with Dr. Chris Benner, a leading scholar of regional economic development, at University Research Park. Around 40 people attended in person, and over 100 people tuned in via a live Facebook video! We also polled over a hundred attendees of MadREP’s Economic Development and Diversity Summit about regional issues.

In August, AGMV hosted an event at the American Family Dream Bank as part of Forward Fest, the annual gathering of the technology and startup communities in Madison. Our event, called “Technology and Regional Planning,” combined an iPlan workshop with our neighborhood-building model blocks and 3D visualization tools.

These events and others helped introduce regional planning issues to audiences in new ways. Working with MadREP to unite the worlds of economic development and regional planning underscores the economic benefits of regional collaboration. Introducing planning concepts at a Forward Fest event reaches the technology and startup communities on their own turf. Our thanks to MadREP, Dr. Benner, the Forward Fest organizers, and the Dream Bank!

Social Media

A Greater Madison Vision has a very active Facebook page! In 2017, our 145 posts made 24,575 impressions, including likes, views, comments, and shares. We also cross-post on Twitter, at @AGM_Vision.

Some of our most popular social media posts have been focused on driving forces of future change, especially related to technology and transportation. Other popular posts include photos and video from our events and outreach activities.

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