The Riverside-Normal City Neighborhood Action Plan (RNAP) is a project being developed by Ball State University third-year urban planning students. The basis of this project is to create a neighborhood action plan for the Riverside-Normal City neighborhood in Muncie, Indiana.

This project is comprehensive in that it can be considered an extension of the recently established Muncie Action Plan (MAP). Specifically, this project relates to the MAP Initiative 4 Action 14, which calls for the creation of neighborhood development plans. By utilizing this plan as a tool, the neighborhood can now self-organize to complete both goals for itself and goals for Muncie as a whole. The empowerment of the people is one of the key aspects of community planning.

Over the course of this project, the students were innovative in refining the skills learned from their previous experiences along with developing new skills. During the project students engaged and lead neighborhood public meetings as well as created and developed initiatives for specific goal groups through public participation.

The students working on the project are members of the PLAN 302 Urban & Neighborhood Analysis studio, in the Department of Urban Planning at Ball State University. The studio is led by Lisa Dunaway, AICP, LEED AP, an Instructor of Urban Planning. The studio emphasizes immersive learning, also known as service or experiential learning, as defined by Ball State. The goal of the immersive learning project was first and foremost to help a neighborhood prepare an action plan to guide future development and improvements. However, students also learned to think critically and creatively, and how to transform information into knowledge, knowledge to judgment, and judgment into action. This helped students realize the core mission of their undergraduate curriculum. Student learning objectives include:

  1. Students learned how to inventory an urban neighborhood and identify its strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Students designed and executed a neighborhood survey to residents.
  3. Students learned how to analyze both qualitative and quantitative data and transform this into knowledge and information for planning purposes.
  4. Students will be able to perform key person interviews.
  5. Students learned how to prepare a neighborhood plan with input and participation of neighborhood residents.

One of this plan’s many innovative qualities is how transferable it can potentially be. The techniques and methods used to create the plan can be applied to nearly any other neighborhood or community. These methods have already been successful in creating previous neighborhood action plans for other Muncie neighborhoods.