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Knoxville Regional
Transportation Planning Organization

400 Main St, Suite 403
Knoxville, TN 37902

email: contact@planeasttn.org
phone: (865) 215-2500
fax: (865) 215-2068

Common Themes Emerge at PlanET Forum Series 1


Posted 12/16/2011

During a first round of community forums held the week of November 14th, several common themes emerged around strengths and challenges that citizens see in their own communities and throughout the five-county PlanET region.


During a first round of public forums held the week of November 14th, several common themes emerged around strengths and challenges that citizens see in their own communities and throughout the five-county PlanET region. Forum Series 1 meetings were held in each county, and, working in small groups, participants were asked to identify assets and positive attributes of their community and surrounding area. They also were challenged with the task of identifying things that were not working well, liabilities to the area’s quality of life.

At each session, the small groups submitted ideas to the forum as a whole, and the top 10 to 15 most frequently mentioned themes were shown. Participants then used real-time polling to vote on their top three strengths and top three challenges. Ideas tied to workforce and economy, natural beauty, transportation, housing, and health rose from the discussions as key themes.

Existing economic assets, such as the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and medical centers were noted frequently, as well as the challenge to attract more high-quality jobs to the region. Another strength included the region’s strategic location at the nexus of major interstates with close proximity to most of the eastern markets of the United States.

The economic value and scenic beauty of our mountains, rivers, and lakes, and their contribution to our regional identity, were discussed at all of the forums, as was the challenge the region faces in protecting these resources. Although access to interstates was labelled a regional asset, the limited availability of other transportation options, such as transit, sidewalks, affordable air travel, and passenger rail, was identified as a challenge for our region.

Affordability of housing was noted as an area strength, but the distance between jobs and housing was considered a major hurdle. Community health concerns, such as drug and tobacco use, asthma, and obesity, were shown as significant problems throughout the region.

Among other area-wide positives was the unique quality of the citizens of the region: friendliness, volunteer ethic, and strong Appalachian heritage.

An expanded version of the Forum Series 1 dialogue, showing individual responses and summary findings by meeting location, is available on the Forum 1 pages of this website. Further exploration of common themes will occur during Forum Series II to be held in April. Information collected during both rounds of community meetings will be used to set attainable, realistic goals that will preserve the strengths and address the challenges of our region.

Keep the dialogue going -- residents are encouraged to continue the conversation through our online “town hall” and within their own civic, neighborhood, or community groups using Meeting In A Box.

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