Reality Check Hampton Roads – Case Study

DSC_5358_Hands+Legos_ltIn May 2012, Urban Land Institute’s Hampton Roads District Council embarked on the most ambitious effort in its history. Reality Check is a ULI-conceived program that brings 300 individuals from across the spectrum of business, government, military, environmental and other sectors together to determine guiding land use principles for the region and a vision as to how to incorporate 350,000 more citizens over the next 25 years.

This highly complex effort involved major regional players – Old Dominion University, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and the Hampton Roads Partnership – along with many more organizations from the seven cities. To stage Reality Check, they turned to Rubin Communications Group, figuring RCG not only had the event planning skills but also the political and civic connections to attract a high quality turnout and recruit facilitators to keep the exercise flowing.  They were right.

Thanks to the dedication of our staff and volunteer committee, Reality Check, held May 17, 2012 at ODU’s Ted Constant Center, was a successful undertaking. Working around 30 tables covered with maps that included no city borders, the citizens drafted guiding land use principles and positioned LEGOs and string to represent future homes, businesses and transportation options.  One of the participants, TCC economics professor Peter Shaw,  said it was “a game changer for the region.” For RCG, according to Joel Rubin, it was proof that “we can take a big assignment,  break it into parts,  marshal the necessary resources and keep all parties,  including the client,  on track.”

ULI District Chair John Peterson said RCG was critical to the event’s success. “You deserve a lot of credit for navigating the, political challenges of this region and making sure we had the right people at the tables and that they had a meaningful experience. We really appreciate your efforts.”

Due to last year’s successful event, Reality Check Hampton Roads “Advancing the Vision” will be held on May 16, 2013 to hear results from Reality Check 2012 and see the developments that have taken place since that landmark event. It will also feature a live interactive presentation and Q&A with Robert Grow, the founding chairman of Envision Utah, the non-profit public partnership created nearly 20 years ago to involve the public in addressing land use, transportation and environmental challenges presented by growth.