NRPC wins award for ‘A Story Worth Telling

MERRIMACK – The Nashua Regional Planning Com­mission was awarded the New Hampshire Planners Associ­ation’s Plan of the Year Award for "The Nashua Region: A Story Worth Telling."

The plan offers tools and insight for local planners as they endeavor to implement their local master plan goals and ob­jectives.

"This plan brings data, facts and local voices together to better inform decision-makers and support the planning goals and objectives for the region," said Dave Hennessey, chairman of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission.

To craft this plan, the NRPC used an unorthodox ap­proach and invested time in locations that planners don’t often get to visit. From the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter to the Nashua Police Athletic League after-school program to Hollis Veterans Club meetings, staff members engaged with residents who traditionally don’t have the opportunity to participate in planning processes.

The development of the plan also used traditional da­ta-gathering techniques, resulting in an enormous amount of analysis.

From the number of home foreclosures to the share of residents in or near poverty to the number of job losses ab­sorbed during the recession – all of those data points can be found in the NRPC’s regional plan. But statistics can be cold and faceless, and hide the tremendous human influenc­es these events have on individuals and families. The "Our Stories" component of the plan provides a unique and more personalized lens in which to view these issues.

The plan tells the story of a family who lost their home to foreclosure and the tremendous effects that event had on their school-age children.

It tells the story of a young man who endured the shock and uncertainty of losing his job in the depth of the Great Recession. It includes the stories from the founders of a startup frozen-food company, including both the excitement of strong initial sales and the unease brought by rising elec­tricity bills.

The NRPC has discussed energy costs, senior mobili­ty, home foreclosures and economic trends before in other plans, and doubtlessly will again. However, never before has a plan in New Hampshire seized the opportunity to explore the profound and life-changing effects these issues and events directly have on residents across the region.

There are about 205,000 people in the Nashua region. The NRPC interacted with about 1,800 of them in craft­ing the regional plan through numerous occasions, ranging from workshops to old home days and interviews to online surveys.

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