Drawing on ideas and experiences from urban and rural cities across 26 states, Canada, and Crete, planners helped community members in Chicago's West Humboldt Park neighborhood shape a future vision for their community. The exchanges took place at the second annual Community Planning Team Charrette, sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) during APA's 2002 National Planning Conference in April 2002. Designed to help the community's residents gain a better understanding of the elements that make a strong community, the charrette brought together more than 50 enthusiastic planners and 75 community members who spent a day in West Humboldt Park actively working to "make a great community happen."

Following an overview of the charrette process and a bus tour of the neighborhood, planners participated in an open forum discussion with community members. Both groups openly discussed recurring community problems, community needs, and previous efforts to revitalize the area. Together, the group of planners and community residents identified seven specialized areas for further, more detailed breakout discussions, including community safety, economic and business development, and community character. After the breakout sessions, everyone reconvened to discuss specific recommendations and formulate an action plan for the community.

The hard work and effort on behalf of all the participants resulted in a successful day. One planner found that the charrette gave him an opportunity to become "reacquainted with my planning soul," while other planners said the West Humboldt Park experience was lively and spirited, and served as a wonderful educational opportunity for both participants and community members.

Acting on the AICP Code of Ethics, which states that planners "... must strive to contribute time and effort to groups lacking in adequate planning resources" and "to contribute time and to voluntary professional activities," AICP is planning to continue the charrette at future National Conferences.