"What is the city but the people?"

William Shakespeare
Coriolanus 3.1.99

The validity of The Plan of Nashville, and its eventual success, hinge on the acceptance of community-based planning assisted by professional design expertise. This process produces principles and goals developed by, and reflective of, the will of the people at large. These principles serve as the guidelines for future development proposals--for example, a new elementary school or convention center.

Four-Stage Process:

  1. Research by design professionals, planners, and historians on Nashville's history, culture, and prior planning led to a better understanding of why the city looks and works the way it does today.
  2. Citizens identified current concerns and priorities in the neighborhoods, in the city, and in the region.
  3. The community's aspirations and ambitions for the city directed the development of the principles and goals of the Plan.
  4. A team of design professionals--particularly the staff of the Nashville Civic Design Center--assisted by writers and editors, formulated the Plan of Nashville as the embodiment and amplification of the three prior stages.


The work was organized into five phases:

  1. Research & Analysis (June -- December 2002)
  2. Community Visioning (October 2002 -- May 2003)
  3. Synthesis of the Plan of Nashville (March -- September 2003)
  4. Production (September 2003 -- May 2004)
  5. Book Preparation (May -- October 2004)

Downloads & Links

Planning for the Future: A Handbook on Community Visioning (3rd ed.)

The purpose of this handbook is to help communities like yours begin thinking and planning for the future. It is not, however a cookbook on community visioning. Every community in Pennsylvania is so unique, so it must develop its own vision and plan for the future. On the other hand, many of the same principles and activities that are included in the process may be useful to many communities. To help communities find that common ground and allow them the freedom to decide what their plans might include, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania designed this handbook to focus on the process of visioning, not the outcome. This guide is divided into the following sections:

What is Community Visioning
How to Create a Vision for the Future
Elements of Success
Nuts-and-Bolts of Visioning
Lessons Learned

The guide also includes a list of recommended readings, a list of federal, state, and private resources that can be used to help implement different parts of your community vision, and sample project material.

Visit the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's website to download the handbook Planning for the Future.


During the Building Consensus Workshop (Nashville Convention Center, April 12, 2003) the participants developed agreement on the principles of the Plan and consolidated the vision for Nashville. More than 250 people attended the Saturday morning session. An extensive electronic survey was developed and conducted in consultation with Betina Finley, President of TurnKey Video and New Media in Seattle. The eighty-two questions in ten categories established the demographics of hte participants and then asked their opinions on issues related to the Cumberland River, cultural attractions, the natural and built environment, neighborhoods, transportation infrastructure, economic development, housing, urban design and education.

The initial survey was then augmented by an online survey to which an additional three hundred citizens responded. The information derived from the survey was used by NCDC staff and design team leaders to finalize the Plan's goals and principles, which were in turn used to produce the design of the Plan.

Recent Projects

Alleyways of Nashville

Alleyways of Nashville

This publication shows some of the strategies that alley programs internationally have implemented in their work. Some have environmental benefits such as replacing asphalt with a more pervious material to collect water; while others have benefits for improving people's safety and perception of alleys such as providing lighting and visibility. Adopting even a few of these strategies could help transform alleys in Nashville which could becomes more active and prosperous. Most of these strategies require low maintenance, but it is important to take advantage of public space as a canvas for programming social activity. 

Fairgrounds Public Meetings Report

Fairgrounds Public Meetings Report

The Nashville Civic Design Center was asked by Mayor David Briley and the Fairgrounds Nashville Board of Directors, to facilitate a series of public meetings with the Fairgrounds Design Team, to get input in order to inform a more refined version of the Fairground Improvement Plan.

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