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Junior planners help plan future of Snohomish

A group of district elementary students recently had a unique opportunity to share their hopes and dreams about what they wanted their future community to include. 

Cascade View Elementary and Central Emerson Elementary (Emerson campus) students recently presented “wish maps” to the Snohomish City Council. The wish maps were the result of a collaborative project known as The Future of Snohomish with the City of Snohomish Planning and Development Services Department and the greater Snohomish community.

“We wanted a way to talk to kids” Brooke Eidam, City of Snohomish Planning Director, said. She added the city was looking for out-of-the-box ways to gather feedback for the city comprehensive plan. “The City of Snohomish comprehensive plan is a 20-year document, so we wanted to work with and gather feedback from children because it is their future that we are building.”

Eidam wanted a fun way to not only gather feedback from kids, but to teach them about what goes in to building their city. She and other city staff members collaborated with a group of 4th through 6th grade teachers at the elementary schools to produce mini lessons she would then teach to students in their classrooms.

The lessons focused on:

  • Conversations about what a city is and what goes into a city
  • Background of why cities plan for the future and how they change through the years
  • Parts of a city, including zoning, water systems, city resources, parks, housing, and businesses
  • Map viewing, reading, and understanding
  • Cartology

The lessons also gave students the chance to take what they learned and draw their own imaginative maps of Snohomish.

“Some of the common themes that I noticed placed on the students’ maps included dog parks and more parks for kids,” Andrea Rossall, Central Emerson Elementary (Emerson campus) teacher, said. “Many also mentioned the addition of a Chick Fil A. The students absolutely loved and appreciated the opportunity to have a voice in their own community.”

In addition to parks, recreation, and restaurants, other themes on the Future of Snohomish maps were community gardens, hiking trails, homeless shelters, and schools.

“There was a variety of feedback, which I think speaks volumes about their diverse interests and how seriously they took the assignment,” Eidam said.

More than 250 student maps were collected, and 10 students were chosen to present their maps of Snohomish at a recent City Council meeting. Each student spoke to City Council members about what they decided to add to their wish list map of the future of Snohomish and why it was important to them.

The junior planner presenters from Central Emerson Elementary and Cascade View Elementary included:

  • Arya Black
  • Lincoln Cruze
  • Ellie Flath
  • Hadley Hammer
  • Zoe Logan
  • Vera Miller
  • Sydnee Moss
  • Lauren Twedt
  • Liam Walker
  • Valerie Zarza

“We are so proud of our scholars for their hard work and enthusiasm for this project,” Sasha Frisbie, Cascade View Elementary teacher, said. “This partnership (between the students, schools, and city) was so successful, we also discussed working together in the upcoming school years with the City of Snohomish to learn more about specific aspects of city operations.”