Since the project began, the Sustainable Small Harbors project team has led a diverse selection of Michigan coastal communities through an in-depth visioning process. Thanks to grant funding, the team has been able to provide highly interactive, public input-driven design events — typically valued at tens of thousands of dollars — at no direct cost to the communities. Though the process was ultimately tailored to fit the needs of the communities, most followed the same format: 

Visit the pages in this section of the website for case studies, news coverage, and full reports from communities that have undergone the Sustainable Small Harbors planning process. As the project enters its next phase, the team will continue working closely with one or two new communities each year; information relevant to those communities will also appear in this section of the website.

What is a charrette?

Many of the community reports mention “charrettes.” A design charrette is a brainstorming workshop that’s open to the public. Participants offer ideas for amenities or improvements that they feel would generate more waterfront activity, such as:

  • New or improved biking and walking trails
  • Wheelchair-accessible restrooms
  • Pocket parks
  • Destination restaurants
  • Kayak rentals
  • Redesigned streets

Charrettes conducted by the Sustainable Small Harbors project team usually spanned three days. The team used insights and feedback from community members to generate a series of hand-drawn and computer-generated design concepts for various components of the community’s waterfront. Members of the public then used colored dots to demonstrate their support for components of the design concepts. The concepts with the highest level of support were combined into a final design vision, which was  presented to the community along with a final project report. Charrette reports and final project reports can be found in the individual community tabs in this section of the website.