9.3 Design Wisconsin: Your Community’s Design Team

The University of Wisconsin-Extension provides communities with a variety of resources to help them make meaningful decisions about their future.   The Design Wisconsin program is an opportunity to bring a team of planning and design professionals into your community to help you discover the short-, medium-, and long-range visions of your future.

Unlike a traditional strategic planning process, the Design Wisconsin approach concentrates public participation into a community design charrette or “visit”.  The visit consists of a flurry of interactive activities that encourage the exchange of ideas while generating the energy needed for implementation.  Like a traditional strategic planning process, the visit involves months of preparation and deliberation involving key stakeholders.  For the average community participant, the process is often observed as being quick, fun, and simple.  This illusion is critical as it creates the energy and momentum necessary for implementing the ideas generated by the visit.

Click here to learn a little about the theory behind the process.


To apply for a visit, please contact your local UW-Extension Educator/Agent.  They will guide you through the application process, build community capacity for the visit, and assist with implementation.  The Minnesota Design Team has partnered with the University of Wisconsin Extension to develop a workbook to be used for the community design visit.

Please work with your local UW-Extension educator to complete and submit application packet in the Workbook to:

Todd W. Johnson, Land Use + Community Development Specialist
University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UW-Extension)
315 Agriculture Science
410 S. 3rd Street
River Falls, WI  54022
(715) 425-3941 office


There is a fee for the Design Wisconsin program.  The fee varies depending on the scale of the visit (see 9.2 Scale).  The money is used for travel expenses and materials.  Communities are encouraged to raise the funds from a variety of sources to help build a broad base of support.  In addition to the fee, communities are expected to promote the visit, provide working and presentation spaces, and arrange for local transportation, food, and housing for the volunteers.  The Community Vitality + Placemaking Team partners with local leaders and UW-Extension educators to coordinate all pre-visit activities to assure a successful program.