Our work spans from design and planning of signature development projects, to policy and strategy for complex situations—with thoughtful facilitation and engagement in between. We collaborate with clients on their toughest challenges, and bring our energy and momentum every step of the way. This project sampling is reflective of our core value of leading impactful, creative, and equitable work that sets new standards for our cities and communities.
Harris County Community Flood Resilience Task Force
Harris County Flood Control District
- Building capacity of members to understand, advise, and lead on flood resilience issues
- Created feedback loops between Task Force and County departments
- Ongoing progress toward flood resilience
We facilitated the inaugural year of Harris County's Community Flood Resilience Task Force, a diverse group of 17 community and technical members working to further Harris County's equitable flood resilience efforts. This group represents the full diversity of Harris County, including economic, racial, technical, ability, political, and geographic representation and is collaborating with County staff to develop the 2050 Flood Resilience Plan. This effort is a highly innovative approach in which Harris County is empowering a community group to advise County departments and Harris County Commissioners Court on overall resilience efforts and the first major comprehensive flood resilience plan for the region.
Outside Voices' Leah Chambers provided strategic direction, intentional and impactful facilitation, and an equity lens to guide this diverse group, as well as collaborate with the County Judge's Office, the Infrastructure Resilience Team, Office of the County Administrator, and other County departments on overall approach and strategy. We advised the County on engagement and process, as well as provided "translation" of technical information into an accessible format for all Task Force members and the community— soliciting discussion and feedback on complex topics.
SPUR Temporary to Transformative: Ushering in a New Era for Streets
During the COVID-19 pandemic, San Francisco city leaders transformed streets from spaces to drive through into places for public life. But as the tide of the pandemic started to turn, SPUR sought to explore how to make those changes permanent in sustainable and equitable ways. Outside Voices and Kristen Hall City Design, co-led SPUR’s Temporary to Transformative effort, resulting in a policy and design advocacy report looking to shape a new vision for the city’s street network and street life.
Leah Chambers and Kristen Hall guided an impactful engagement effort with a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency Task Force and key stakeholders to develop the key design and policy recommendations, as well as crafted the language for the full report. Outside Voices, in collaboration with Alice An, created a series of videos, infographics, and sketches to illustrate the robustness of the new vision.
Silicon Valley Office Campus
- Visionary plan that maximized interaction and connectivity while planning for long-term growth
- Development of multi-use central gathering hub, to be completed in 2022
The multi-disciplinary team of Noah Friedman, Courtney Ferris, and Outside Voices collaborated on the urban design and next-generation planning for an aging 200-acre office campus in Silicon Valley. While once a powerhouse destination for cutting edge companies, the site’s relevancy and draw had faded over time. Rooted in the outdoor, collaborative, and entrepreneurial spirit of the valley, the team developed a vision of a multi-use campus, anchored on a network of bike highways, mobility connections, and pedestrian promenades that fostered interaction at every turn. New spaces were shaped to take advantage of surrounding vistas and intuitive wayfinding as the site evolved over time.
Outside Voices brought a landscape architecture lens to the overall site planning, and provided shaping and design for key areas within the site. Implementation of the plan has already begun with the development of a central gathering space, setting the stage for the campus to return to its cutting edge traditions for a new discerning workforce.
Diridon Station Area And Google Campus Engagement
City of San Jose
- 40-member Station Area Advisory Group voted to support the project
- Advisory Group and community collaborated with the City on desired community benefits
- Google and City of San Jose signed a landmark Developer Agreement based on community buy-in
Outside Voices acted as facilitators and strategists on the multi-disciplinary community engagement strategy for the landmark proposed Google campus development in downtown San Jose. In partnership with Plan to Place and Raimi + Associates, Leah Chambers guided the City of San Jose in building equitable, community-driven consensus around a strategic approach for engaging with Google on their controversial development proposal. The comprehensive, equitable, and multi-pronged engagement plan worked to build consensus among many—and often conflicting—community voices on the highly-visible and complex topic, within diverse groups that had historically been ignored or minimized in public processes.
Throughout the process the team successfully translated key project information, needs, and goals while navigating an array of stakeholders and input that spanned the City and government agencies, the developer, technical teams, design professionals, the advisory group, and the broader community. After three years of intensive engagement, the Station Area Advisory group—composed of business owners, non-profits, neighborhood groups, advocates, and community members—overwhelmingly supported the project and the City and Google entered into a landmark Developer Agreement based on guiding principles led by the community.
Harris County Judge’s Office Early Childhood Conversations
Harris County Judge’s Office
- Community Conversation with 150 early childhood leaders, practitioners, and advocates
- Harris County launched $10 million Early Childhood Impact Fund
- Harris County implemented series of family-friendly Human Resources policies
In early 2020, County Judge Lina Hidalgo initiated a conversation with 150 community leaders, service providers, and families on early childhood issues across Harris County. Outside Voices hosted the conversation and co-led the engagement effort with Fahad Punjwani, of Suchee Studios, before the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the world in its tracks. After stopping all in-person events, the team recalibrated and launched a series of small, intimate conversations with community members to help shape the County Judge’s early childhood policies going forward.
In the fall of 2020, Harris County launched a $10 million Early Childhood Impact Fund to invest in programs and interventions with the significant potential to dramatically improve early childhood outcomes in Harris County.