Why Get Involved
This plan is an opportunity to shape the future of Silver Spring. If you work, play, or spend time in downtown Silver Spring — or consider the plan area part of your neighborhood — this is your chance to help shape your community’s future. Your participation and voice in the process are vital to developing a plan that reflects the community’s needs, anticipates the changes to come, and retains the uniqueness and diversity that make Silver Spring the beloved place it is today.
Named the fourth most culturally diverse location in the US, Silver Spring is home to many people who are culturally, racially, ethnically, age, and socio-economically diverse. As part of our planning framework, equity will be woven through all parts of the plan.
Community members’ voice and participation in the process are vital to planning that reflects the needs of the community, anticipates the changes to come, and retains the unique character and diversity that make Silver Spring a great place. That’s why the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan team will work tirelessly to engage all communities so that everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in the sector plan process.
We have begun community engagement community engagement with a series of listening sessions to better understand the hopes, needs and concerns of the entire community before planning specific engagement opportunities. Listening is one of four phases and will inform how we partner with and engage community members during the next three phases. See what we’ve heard and who we’ve heard from so far.
Read more about our approach to community engagement in the plan scope of work.
Community engagement timing related to COVID-19
The pandemic introduced new challenges and highlighted existing challenges both in Silver Spring and across the country. It is our responsibility as planners and public servants to continue working to plan for the future of Montgomery County, especially in the face of a crisis such as the current pandemic. Crises like these underscore the need for good, future-focused planning and reveal new issues to consider during the planning process.
Sector plans and master plans take years. We cannot develop this plan without first listening to the community. The first year of the planning process is devoted to community engagement and understanding of existing conditions. Our current national crisis necessitates new and creative outreach and engagement methods but Montgomery Planning is committed to taking the time needed to organize a robust engagement process to reach as many stakeholders as possible.
Our highest priority is the health and well-being of our community members and our staff. As things evolve, we will continue to actively monitor the situation and assess risks so that we may implement the changes needed to ensure the highest level of safety and participation.
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Four Phases of Equitable Engagement
This first phase of an extensive community engagement process is focused on listening to and understanding stakeholders with the hope of identifying the diverse concerns of the Silver Spring communities. This will include discussions about equity/inequity in the community; understanding of which will be key to ensuring that our planning policies and recommendations are equitable.
In July and August 2020, Montgomery Planning hosted a series of online listening sessions. We will reach out to community leaders and groups to determine how best to reach their members.
Throughout this phase, we will work to meet people where they are and reach community members in the ways most convenient and accessible to them while respecting the health safety guidelines regarding Covid-19. We will ask the community how best to reach them and are considering virtual town halls, physically-distanced neighborhood porch/courtyard/yard gatherings, virtual and phone “office hours” and more.
Informed by community-expressed engagement preferences learned during listening sessions, this phase focuses on creating the future vision for downtown Silver Spring and the surrounding areas.
The subject, locations and format for visioning engagement will be defined by what we learn from the community in the listening phase. For example, we may hold a series of visioning workshops at different times and places throughout the community over several months with language interpretation services, and other necessary support provided so that many can participate. For those who cannot attend these workshops, we’ll identify other places/gatherings convenient for them to share their thoughts and feedback. All methods will follow appropriate social and physical distancing guidelines in place at this time.
This phase is concurrent with Montgomery Planning staff formation of preliminary plan recommendations. We will seek community feedback on these preliminary recommendations, and there will be opportunities for formal public comment as well. Our engagement methods once again will be informed by community preferences and lessons learned thus far.
The final phase of Montgomery Planning’s engagement aligns with staff sharing plan recommendations. We’ll discuss the recommendations with the community and explain how those recommendations will benefit the community in the next 20 years, including how community input and feedback evolved into the plan recommendations.
Community members are also encouraged to testify on the record their support of or dissent to recommendations before Planning Board work sessions and during the Planning Board’s public hearing(s).