Land-use webinar to focus on engaging communities through humanities

March 05, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — How can communities engage residents through the humanities to find what matters most? That will be the topic of a web-based seminar offered by Penn State Extension.

Presenting the 75-minute webinar at noon on March 14 will be R. Mimi Iijima, with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council; Zachary Norwood, Crawford Planning Commission; Andrew Sheaf, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development; and Leanne Tingay, Orton Family Foundation.

"Community Heart and Soul: Engaging Residents through the Humanities to Find What Matters Most" is part of the Penn State Extension Winter/Spring Land Use Webinar series that runs from Jan. 17 to May 16. The webinar series assists municipal elected and appointed officials, planners, landowners, farmers and community organizations in being informed with regard to land-use issues and decisions in their communities.

"The humanities can be a resource in overcoming these challenges and activating residents," said Tingay. "Using the humanities, Community Heart and Soul offers practical examples and hands-on tools to successfully find, engage, and take action on what matters most to people in a community.”

In 2015, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council partnered with the Orton Family Foundation to bring Orton's Community Heart and Soul method to Pennsylvania communities. Community Heart and Soul is a proven process that empowers people to shape the future of their communities by creating a shared sense of belonging that improves local decision-making and ultimately strengthens social, cultural and economic vibrancy.

"The humanities play a key role in this process, as participants learn what matters most to the community through gathering stories from and engaging as many residents as possible, including those who don't typically participate in public processes," said Tingay.

Residents in Carlisle, Meadville and Williamsport are currently leading multi-year Community Heart and Soul projects. This webinar will detail the Community Heart and Soul framework and highlight the project in Meadville. Later this spring, the humanities council will award planning grants to additional communities interested in exploring future Heart and Soul projects, in partnership with the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

"The Heart and Soul model engages communities through the humanities by not only helping people share their stories, but also allowing them to connect feelings about their community with their vision for its future," Norwood said. "It engages with people by going to them -- not asking them to make the effort to come to them."

This webinar will address how planners can be instrumental in taking all of the resources available and helping a community to fulfill its long-term vision. The Heart and Soul process can allow residents to participate in a process so that they feel their opinions count.

Other topics and dates in Penn State Extension's Winter/Spring 2018 Land-Use Webinar Series include:

— Jan. 17: "Planning for Private Water Supplies"

— Feb. 21: "Land Use Planning with a Changing Climate"

— April 11: "Addressing the Parking Challenge – Smart Parking Planning for Downtown Development"

— May 16: "Sign Regulations That Encourage Outstanding Design"

All of these programs will be recorded and available for viewing.

The cost of the webinar series is $40 for all five sessions, or $75 for all five sessions for those who want to receive AICP certification maintenance credits from the American Planning Association. The cost is also $75 for all five sessions for Professional Engineers needing PDH credits.

In addition, registered landscape architects can receive continuing education credits for a fee of $45.

For more information, contact Peter Wulfhorst at 570-296-3400 or by email at ptw3@psu.edu. To register for the webinars, visit the website

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 06, 2018