City of Waterloo
The City of Waterloo is gaining momentum, recruiting businesses, redeveloping its downtown, and leading in technology and infrastructure investments. But the city suffers from a perception problem driven by decades-old economic and social issues, and a small but vocal group was controlling the narrative. Many residents are unaware of all the positive work the city is doing, and the small city staff was struggling to focus their efforts on completing improvement projects and communicating these successes with residents and the wider community.
Without a cohesive vision and a framework to enact it, this inaccurate perception and lack of awareness of all the good things in Waterloo were hampering the city’s success.
Leaning on our experience in community facilitation and research, de Novo began a year-long discovery process with the community of approximately 66,000. We listened a lot—conducted surveys, facilitated conversations, and produced a community Spark Event that highlighted 10 amazing ideas for growth. Spark Events are interactive community-driven events where 10 ideas are presented and then voted on by the audience. Whether those ideas become reality is up to the community, but they feed the creativity of the planning process, connect people, and help the community dream about its future.
The result of the research and planning was the vision plan in the 8×8 framework: Eight ideas to transform Waterloo over the next eight years, a new graphic identity and tagline—A Community of Opportunity—that better represents the vibrancy and direction of Waterloo, and a campaign to help the city share its successes—Fly the W.
At the request of the steering committee, every finalized recommendation in the 8×8 vision plan was developed, keeping equity and opportunity top of mind.
Each community is unique. Our approach works to determine what each individual community loves about and envisions for itself. When a community engages with its residents and builds a vision together, the results are far better than those who don’t. Our approach—research first, creativity from within, and strategy based in experience—helps communities reach their goals.