Fifteen “students” in the third insight2050 Academy – the first designed for Civic Leaders – graduated October 17 after a three-session program that provoked good discussion and enthusiasm. Class members represented at least eight communities in addition to Columbus neighborhoods. Some were municipal employees, some were civic volunteers, and some represented businesses or professional organizations.

The Fall 2017 Academy course was designed for civic leaders and community activists, as opposed to past academies for public officials and people appointed to local-government boards. To accommodate the citizen focus, MORPC and its partners – Columbus2020 and ULI Columbus– held evening classes, from 5:30 to 7:30 P.M. on three successive Tuesdays in October. Speakers and group discussion were moderated by Columbus Dispatch reporters Mark Ferenchik on Oct. 3 and Jim Weiker on Oct. 10.

The discussions were lively, and they transcended insight2050’s original emphasis on population, demographics, data, and growth scenarios. Participants also wanted to know how the coming changes and growth patterns would affect such things as: the need for affordable housing; differences among school districts as a driver of where people choose to live; and the effect of zoning on housing prices and other factors.

At the end of the October 17 session, MORPC Executive Director William Murdock presented each “graduate” with a certificate for the time they devoted to learning about important issues facing the region.

“Over the course of this Academy, community leaders from across Central Ohio came together to learn from some of the region’s top planning and development experts,” Murdock said. “They provided compelling updates about how to navigate changing development trends and regional growth at the local level. The Academy also is an opportunity for elected officials and residents to learn best practices from one another.”

Communities and neighborhoods represented in the Fall Academy included Delaware, Westerville, New Albany, Dublin, Whitehall, Hilliard, Upper Arlington, Reynoldsburg, and South Columbus.