Weekend Read: Wilmette Talk #1 Recap


The Ready Set Wilmette team hosted the first Wilmette Talk and project open house to kick off the comprehensive plan on the evening of Thursday, November 11th. Thank you to those who joined in-person to listen, learn, discuss, and participate in the activity stations! The planning process is just getting started and there are plenty more opportunities to engage: the Virtual Open House and Poll #1 are now open and we are eager to hear everyone’s ideas and vision for Wilmette’s future!

Setting the Stage for Comprehensive Planning

Michael Blue, Principal at Teska Associates and project manager for the comprehensive plan, began with a brief overview of comprehensive planning:

“In short, it’s a community-based collection of goals for the future and a set of actions to accomplish that vision. The purpose of this plan is to help Wilmette meet tomorrow sustainably and successfully. It will do this by providing insights and recommendations about places, programs, and policies for the years to come. Communities and people are always changing, so is, technology, and the way we live, work, and play. The plan must guide the Village through those changes. It does this by understanding conditions that exist today, anticipating what tomorrow may bring, and helping the community define its common goals. In this way its more than data and demographics, it’s a process to help Wilmette focus on themes that together shape its “quality of life.”

Ready Set Wilmette’s approach will move through the typical planning process (data collection, research, stakeholder interviews, focus groups, visioning, developing recommendations, and future land use planning) while simultaneously conducting public engagement around a set of planning themes. November 11th was the first of a series of “Wilmette Talks” that will take place each season to facilitate community discussion on each of the planning themes. Learn more by watching the project overview video.

Wilmette Talk #1: Community Character | Arts, Culture, Entertainment | Health, Safety, Wellness

Project team members Michael Blue, Erin Cigliano, and Francie Sallinger of Teska Associates presented the Fall 2021 setlist of themes: Community Character (video link); Arts, Culture, and Entertainment (video link); and Health, Safety and Wellness (video link).

“Community Character refers to features that help shape a place’s identity and the way residents live, work, play, and travel. It runs the gamut from architecture, design, and history, to environment, technology, people and cultures. It also includes your experience in a place: how you get there, what you do there, your enjoyment of the space, and the big collection of little things that affect your feelings about a community.”

Key Questions:

  • What factors contribute most towards Wilmette’s community character and sense of place?
  • What is the current “narrative” about Wilmette and should it be different in the future?

“Arts, Culture, and Entertainment help define what makes a place special and what attracts people to want to live, work and visit a community. They shape our shared experiences, beliefs, and values; help us understand other cultures in our community; promote personal well-being; and are essential to a well-rounded education.

Key Questions:

  • What are the most impactful elements of Wilmette’s art and cultural scene? Are they available to the entire community?
  • What role should arts, culture, and entertainment have in Wilmette’s future?

“Health, Safety, and Wellness focuses on the connection between the built and natural environment, access to green space, educational and recreational programming and factors that impact and support the holistic well-being of individuals, families, and the community at large.”   

Key Questions:

  • What are the Village’s most well-used health/wellness resources? Are there disparities geographically, racially, etc.?
  • In what ways can Wilmette’s future be healthier and safer?

Following the presentation was a Q&A discussion with the audience. Ideas were shared around:

  • love for the Wilmette Theater and excitement around its reopening
  • desire for a live music venue
  • desire for a space that accommodates a broad range of events
  • how the arts have a powerful connection to culture and diversity and community events can better celebrate and showcase such

Idea-Sharing + Visioning

Following the Wilmette Talk and Q&A, folks headed to activity stations to share written comments and chat one-on-one with the project team and Village staff. See below for a snapshot of some of the insightful comments shared. Many ideas hit on the importance of equity and diversity, which will be specifically explored in more detail as part of the next Wilmette Talk in early 2022.

“Let’s let go of our obsession with property value…and trust that the value of an equitable and diverse community will have an even greater return on investment.”

-Participant idea

Continuing the Conversation

Fear not if you weren’t able to attend the in-person workshop! The Virtual Open House is now open and awaiting community input – check out the different online stations to learn a bit more about Wilmette, the Comprehensive Plan, and to share your ideas and take part in shaping Wilmette’s future:

Finally, be sure to Subscribe for Updates on the website so that you don’t miss out on future events, project news, and opportunities to participate. Ready Set Wilmette is just getting started!

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