On Tuesday, January 21, 2019, Franklin Tomorrow released preliminary results from the On the Table community engagement initiative, which drew approximately 1,000 participants at 50 public and private events held over a one-week period in October 2018.
During the organization’s quarterly Breakfast With the Mayors at Rolling Hills Community Church, Franklin Tomorrow Executive Director Mindy Tate revealed some of the trends from the more than 400 post-event surveys completed by participants.
“Three age groups identified the same top next steps for action, which are to learn more about the issue or solution, get more involved in the community, and build relationships and collaborate,” Tate said. “We are an organization with a mission to engage the community, foster collaboration, and then advocate for a shared vision for the future of Franklin. It is encouraging to see a strong desire by citizens to be engaged in identifying and discussing issues which may exist and then working together toward partnerships and new ideas.”
From the survey, Franklin Tomorrow learned:
- 66% of respondents believe they can have a moderate to big impact on making Franklin a better place to live;
- 45% are already involved in issues they care about, while 39% said they are too busy
- Additionally, 24% said they are unsure of how to get involved
- 48% met people they did not know while participating in the On the Table events
“Franklin Tomorrow was founded in 2001 and has conducted several visioning and citizen engagement activities since that time,” Tate explained. “In the 2018 On the Table initiative, the top three opportunities for improvement in Franklin, identified by those completing the post-event survey, were similar to those identified in previous efforts, but with a new perspective.”
“This issue of housing rose to the top when asked to identify the top three opportunities for improvement in Franklin today, but the focus was less on affordable housing for low-income individuals, but more fully reflecting on the need for attainable housing options for people in various stages of life and at various income levels,” Tate added.
Second, was the broad topic of transportation, with a desire to see greater connectivity and more pedestrian access between residential neighborhoods, downtown and Cool Springs, and “to morph land planning away from such a strong focus on the car.”
Third was the theme of growth and development, with a strong desire to see the city’s small-town charm maintained while recognizing that growth will, and should, continue.
Additional information gleaned from the survey includes:
- 84% of respondents said they always vote in local elections;
- 71% left with a better understanding of how they can personally address the challenges/opportunities facing the community;
- 42% of respondents had lived in their current home for less than five years, with more than half (53%) living in their current residence for 10 years or less.
In 2019, Franklin Tomorrow is making plans on how to continue the conversations which started with On the Table and the community is invited to participate in those activities as they occur, whether they were a participant in the original On the Table conversations.
Ideas being explored include:
- A civic book & media league, with different circles focusing on topics such as leadership & civics, design & society, and history & culture quarterly, while also offering a citywide reading and discussion topic;
- Partnering with Hands On Nashville, United Way of Williamson County and its partner agencies, and other local nonprofits to provide a clearinghouse for citizens to learn about volunteer opportunities;
- Specific programs to reconvene conversations begun through On the Table, utilizing other civic engagement platforms, as well as through a second On the Table event in Fall 2019.
“These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg of what can be done in a community like Franklin, which has an engaged citizenry and active business community,” stated Tate. “We had a series of wonderful partners in 2018 for On the Table, including the City of Franklin, Williamson Inc., Franklin Special School District, the Williamson County Association of REALTORS, and a number of local businesses and nonprofits. We want to reconvene with them in February and work toward continued momentum from this effort toward the common goal of maintaining and enhancing Franklin’s great quality of life.”
Serving as On the Table co-chairs for 2018 and 2019 are Mary Lee Bennett, Patrick Baggett, Jim Roberts, and Allena Bell, who became the chair of Franklin Tomorrow’s 25-member Board of Directors in 2019.
Franklin Mayor Ken Moore congratulated Franklin Tomorrow on the successful execution of the On the Table initiative. “Receiving community input is very important to me as well as the City. This personalized and conversational method is going to give us new data and support for ongoing projects and foster new ones,” Moore said. “As a community, we are so blessed with the level of participation from our citizens and their heart to give back. I am eager to continue to review the vision of our citizens and utilize it to keep Franklin a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.”
Franklin Tomorrow is a nonprofit, community visioning which has as its mission to engage the community, foster collaboration, and advocate for a shared vision for the future of Franklin. That shared vision is that Franklin will be a city with a robust economy, great people, distinct character, and vibrant neighborhoods. Learn more at www.franklintomorrow.org.