Escondido, CA

Students asked about what they want for the city’s future

Some of the art works produced by the “visioning exercise.”

On November 30 and December 1 Escondido staffers conducted a “visioning exercise” and art lesson with fifth graders at Central Elementary.

After a group discussion about planning and land use, the students envisioned and shared ideas on what they would like to see develop on some vacant lots around their school.

The activity helped students learn more about government and recognize connections between government and a student’s everyday life. Over 100 students participated.

This activity was enabled by the South Centre City Specific Plan planning effort. The results of the art exercise will be incorporated into the final planning document, which will be presented to Planning Commission and City Council for approval early next year.

They started with a facilitated discussion about what a “City” does in terms of community services and why it should be important to a 5th grader.

Mike Strong, assistant planning director for the city, told The Times-Advocate: “Then we asked for the each class to think about what they would like see develop on some vacant lots around their school.  At the conclusion of the visioning exercise we asked the students to draw or paint their vision, incorporating some of the things that the class as a whole thought was important.  About 100 students participated.  We have about one hundred representations of this art here at the City.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will be migrating the art into the planning document so that the kids have some sort of tangible connection to the City’s planning process.”

Strong said, “I can say that this is one of the more creative ways that a City has engaged youth in a planning process.  It was also pretty successful.  I haven’t seen anything quite like it in the region.”

In the process, the fifth graders learned about the scope of local government and how it relates to their daily lives. They learned how to analyze, describe and evaluate areas of importance. They applied skills to create personal connections to art and to be able to describe connections

A student at work envisioning Escondido the way she wants it to be.

between the arts and daily life.

You can learn more about the project here

For more information about the Project or the art lesson, please refer to the project website at

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