A People-Centered Approach Applied in St. Joseph, MN

A citizen providing their input at St. Joseph's Community Showcase in April. Photograph by CDG.

St. Joseph, a city of approximately 6,700 people, is located in Stearns County in central Minnesota. The city is an hour outside of the Twin Cities and is home to the College of Saint Benedict, small local businesses, families, and industries. It is a city where residents love the “small town feel,” “safety,” “close-knit community,” and “local businesses.” The city is currently working with CDG to develop their comprehensive plan update. The update is an effort to strategically plan and improve land use, housing, parks, transportation, and economic development as the city grows.

The last St. Joseph Comprehensive Plan update was done in 2008.

In this process, the City has taken it upon itself to listen and engage with residents to create the best comprehensive plan update possible. CDG and the Project Advisory Committee have hosted an open house and multiple pop-up engagement events to inform and give residents an opportunity to voice their concerns and ideas. A website was also created to specifically highlight the process of the plan’s update. The site provides an online questionnaire, gives background information regarding the current plan and current update, informs residents about upcoming engagement events, and provides a summary of responses received at engagement events.

Hundreds of residents have now participated in the engagement events and online questionnaire.

The success of engagement events allows the City of St. Joseph and CDG to truly listen and understand the needs and concerns of the community. A “people-centered” approach is key to creating the most effective comprehensive plan.