As a kickoff to the Regional Outreach Series 1, six regional forums were held in each of the PlanET counties - Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Union. The meetings were open to the public and focused on assessing what participants see as the primary strengths and challenges in the region.
There were a number of common themes relating to strengths and challenges that consistently emerged at the forum meetings held across the region. These themes have been summarized at both the region and the individual county level for review.
Working in small groups, citizens identified regional strengths and challenges. Each group’s ideas were submitted to the forum as a whole and 10 to 15 common themes were identified. Participants then used real-time polling to vote on their top three assets and top three challenges.
Nearly 200 East Tennessee residents attended the first round of public forums. As part of each meeting, participants were asked to provide some basic demographic information that is helpful when assessing how well the participants represent a cross-section of the Region's population.
The six community forums served as the kickoff about the dialog about the region's strengths and challenges. Numerous organizations and groups across East Tennessee used the Outreach Series 1 Meeting in a Box to host their own community forum.