WEBINAR: The “Avant-garde” Staff Report

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Hosted by APA Kansas

Planners write thousands of staff reports every year in response to applications for rezonings, plan amendments, site plans, etc. The reports go to citizens, applicants, advisory boards, and governing bodies who make decisions impacting the very fabric of our communities, yet how often do we assess the report itself? Let alone think creatively about it? Hear the story of how the traditional staff report was turned avant-garde through fashion thinking and inspiration from works of art. Fashion designers create avant-garde pieces of clothing that may not be very wearable in hopes of rethinking ready-to-wear. Inspired by fashion and works of art, we created avant-garde staff reports seeking to break the usual mold for staff reports. We used style boards (images of actual staff reports compiled into a poster), mood boards (images compiled into a poster to create a certain ambiance, but also to boost fresh, lateral thinking), and prototypes of avant-garde staff reports to open our eyes to other ways of thinking. The avant-garde staff reports (videos, game board, newsletters, collage, mobile, and e-book) were tested with planning commissioners and planners in Georgia, California, Kansas, Missouri, Utah, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and New York. This session includes the process and shares the results of the commissioners’ and planners’ assessments. Take-aways are creative (yet practical) improvements to staff reports and the value of “fashion thinking” to advance communication and collaboration. In addition to research results, the City of Topeka, Kansas’ Planning and Development Director will talk about taking his Planning Commission through the avant-garde process and how his staff is modernizing their staff reports.




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