Scorecard Case Study: Cycles for Change and the Transportation Edition
The Alliance partnered with more than a dozen community-centered local organizations to create the Equitable Development Principles & Scorecard, which helps communities ensure that the principles and practices of equitable development, environmental justice, and affordability are available to all residents. Intended to be a living document, adapted by communities to meet their needs, this case study series shares the many ways the scorecard is being leveraged and the lessons learned from the communities putting it to use.
Cycles for Change and the Transportation Edition
In the Twin Cities, many community members who walk, bike, roll and/or use public transit are often left out of conversations about transportation changes in their neighborhoods. To create a tool for community organizing and engagement around transportation improvements, Cycles for Change led a collaborative process to create a supplement to the Equitable Development Principles and Scorecard. The Transportation Edition aims to give community members, planners and government officials a tool to ensure “streets and public spaces are safe and accessible for people who bike, walk, roll and use public transit.”
Why the Scorecard?
Cycles for Change is a non-profit organization based in Minneapolis working at the intersection of social justice and the bicycle movement. Centering femme, trans, women, and gender non-conforming peoples; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and youth within its work, C4C implements programs that create platforms that authentically cultivate leadership development and social consciousness through bicycles and community involvement.
One of the ways the organization does that is by convening and amplifying the voices of bike riders who are often left out of conversations about transportation policy. In 2014, the organization’s Equity Council — comprised of people of color, women and LGBTQ folks — started coming together to identify common challenges with local bicycle infrastructure and public input processes that didn’t meet their needs or recognize their experiences.
“While we met on certain topics or had speakers, the group wanted to do more,” says Monica Bryand, a staffer at C4C. “Having worked on the original Equitable Development scorecard, I thought it could be a great way to get folks to work on a project and use it as an organizing tool.” By creating a transportation-specific supplemental scorecard, the group and other stakeholders could move beyond internal dialogue to more proactive outreach and on-the-ground results.
Adapting the Scorecard to address transportation
Adapting the scorecard and creating a transportation edition took time and intention from a variety of stakeholders. To guide and implement the creation of the Transportation Edition, Cycles for Change had funding from Headwaters Foundation, along with Blue Cross Blue Shield Center for Prevention, to utilize staff time on this project, though it was not core to the day-to-day activities of the organization.
Convening: To curate the insight needed, C4C knew it needed to go beyond its Equity Council — and bicycle riders. So they worked with organizers in the community to bring together a group that was majority people of color and diverse in their perspectives. Recognizing that transportation intersects with so many other issues, the group wasn’t comprised of just bicycle users, but folks who were involved in other areas of advocacy or lived in the community and could bring their experiences to the conversation. For C4C, it was also vitally important to include youth.
Visioning: To ensure the scorecard was aspirational in meeting the real and diverse mobility needs of local communities, the group started with broad visioning. At the first session, more than 40 people attended, representing a wide range of ages, experiences and modes of transportation. To get folks to imagine a future beyond current realities and constraints, the group started with a big question: If we wiped the slate clean, what would you want to see in 50 or 100 years? Given the group perspectives and the big sky thinking, the vision that emerged wasn’t confined to bicycling. The discussion quickly expanded to public transit and pedestrians, and included robust attention to different identities and abilities beyond just mode.
Adding & Adapting: While the original scorecard provided a significant starting point, the group recognized the need to tailor the tool to address mobility more specifically. Together they brainstormed the significant topics or areas that apply to transportation and streets projects. That meant that items in the original scorecard, like community engagement, remained prominent but others areas were added and adapted, like “Connectivity” and “Inclusive Design” that encourage community to strategize around effective transportation networks and wayfinding, as well as the use of public space in ways that are welcoming and accessible to different communities.
Refining & Reviewing: From the larger categories and the wealth of ideas derived from the visioning session, a smaller handful of leaders worked to turn that content into a draft scorecard. It took significant time and care to ensure the perspectives of participants were reflected and the scorecard was concise enough to be useful. “We wanted to make sure that they felt heard and their vision was captured,” Bryand says, “but also make the scorecard manageable and still have teeth and substance.” After the first draft, C4C re-convened a group of 25 engaged stakeholders to “make sure we got it right” and provide feedback.
Challenges & Lessons Learned
Jargon: One challenge in the creation of the Scorecard was ensuring participants and end users both had a shared understanding of terms commonly used in the transportation field. To do that, the Transportation Edition took a page out of the original scorecard in creating a glossary. But the education was two-way: It was an opportunity for community to learn transportation and planning jargon, but also an opportunity for professionals in that space to understand community values on its own terms.
Editing with an eye to community: With more than 40 people investing their time and input, it felt important to respect and reflect the voices of the community in the final product. “I thought, ‘Oh, we’re just adapting the original scorecard. It’s all laid out. There’s this template,’” Bryand says. “But when you bring a community together and ask them for their input, it’s a lot harder. It’s difficult to edit down, draft after draft, and it’s particularly challenging because people’s vision and their wants and needs are in this. But we feel really great about it, so we have to let it go and let people use it.”
Creating a living document: While the transportation edition seeks to provide a guide for a specific subject area, it recognizes that all communities and projects are unique. So the creators aimed to impart of users that it’s just a starting point — that the true value of the tool is to use it as a base and then pick and choose and tailor the areas of focus to what’s important to the community.
Time and resources: Like so many projects, the creation of the Scorecard took longer than anticipated. While initially estimated to take six months, the process of community input, editing, review and graphic design took approximately 18 months.
Outcomes & Opportunities
In summer 2018, Cycles for Change and partners released the Transportation Edition, which can be used on its own or in tandem with the Equitable Development Principles and Scorecard. The resource includes sections and scoring in four areas:
- Local Vision
- Community Power
- Inclusive Design
- Priority and Connectivity
The process of creating the Transportation Edition provided an opportunity for learning and widening perspectives, even for advocates engaged in transportation issues. For instance, the tool includes an appendix focused on terms and solutions related to gentrification and displacement, which was a key issue raised during the community engagement process.
It’s also intended to be a tool for community power. “Planners and developers don’t have to use the scorecard, but community can say, ‘Wow, you know it would be great if information about meetings was in different languages and went out to communities in multiple ways,” Bryand says. “It might not be happening now, it might not happen on this project, but how do we make that happen?”
As of mid-2018, Bryand could foresee the Scorecard being used in St. Paul for projects like the Rondo land bridge and Dale Street bridge redesign. But she also sees promise in leveraging the Scorecard as an engagement tool even before projects take shape. “Whether it’s on the East Side of St. Paul or the North Side of Minneapolis, this is a tool that people can start organizing their community with and educating them and being more proactive,” she says. “The actual projects might not be breaking ground yet but you can start using this to have conversations with folks.”