Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us


? ?

Session Abstracts

What's New?
  • Presentation materials are now available for many conference sessions. Please visit the abstracts page to see if materials are available for your sessions.
  • Registration is now closed. You are welcome to register on-site in Atlanta, but please note that many sessions are now full. Please contact Catherine Sims (catherine.sims@emsus.com or 301-589-5318 ext. 23) with any registration-related questions.
  • Online streaming registration is still open! If you cannot attend in person, click here to register for the online streaming sessions.
  • The room block at the Sheraton is now closed.

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page.
See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

Provided below are session abstracts for the 2015 U.S. EPA Community Involvement Training Conference.

Plenary Sessions

Information and Training Sessions

Tuesday, August 4

Wednesday, August 5 Thursday, August 6

Tuesday, August 4 | 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. (Plenary Session)

  • Welcome: Heather McTeer Toney, Regional Administrator, U.S. EPA, Region 4
  • Opening Remarks: The Honorable Kasim Reed, Mayor of the City of Atlanta
  • Community Panel: Moderator: Mustafa Ali, Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice, U.S. EPA
    Panelists: Na'Taki Osborne Jelks, Co-Founder, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance
    Deborah Scott, Executive Director, Georgia STAND-UP – A Think and Act Tank for Working Communities
    Harold Mitchell, Founder, ReGenesis

Top of Page

Tuesday, August 4 | 10:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. (90-Minute Information Sessions)

Where Do I Begin? Engaging in the STATE I'm In
Presenters: Melissa McGee-Collier, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality; Richard Schulterbrandt Gragg, Ph.D., Florida A&M University School of the Environment; Larry Taylor, Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection; Sonja Favors, Alabama Department of Environmental Management; Karen Sprayberry, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
Track 1 - All levels

What if the approach to influencing change was to use existing policies to compel that change? Communities across the U.S. have had varying degrees of success when it comes to influencing environmental policy. When community organizations know how to navigate existing laws and understand the permitting process, they have the potential to be a powerful driver in addressing environmental concerns. In this training, attendees will: 1) learn about permitting processes and existing opportunities for participation; 2) explore other existing environmental laws that mandate public involvement; 3) receive testimonials from other community leaders who worked with agencies to increase opportunities for participation; and 4) define what meaningful involvement looks like to their community.

Download Presentation (PDF) (37 pp, 1.72MB)

Top of Page

Enhancing Community Involvement through University-Federal Agency Collaboration: Partners in Technical Assistance Program
Presenters: Melissa Dreyfus, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation; Alanna Conley, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10; Alicia Lawson, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Kathleen Gray, University of North Carolina Superfund Research Program; Sarah Wilkinson, University of Arizona Superfund Research Program
Track 2 - All levels

Community involvement can be enhanced when federal agencies work together and leverage the resources of university partners. The potential benefits are exemplified by recent collaboration between EPA's Superfund Community Involvement Program, which advocates and strengthens early and meaningful community participation during Superfund cleanups, and the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP), which funds university-based, multidisciplinary research on human health and environmental issues, including community engagement activities designed to support the needs of communities impacted by hazardous-waste sites.

This session will explore the ways in which university-agency partnerships can enhance community involvement through an interactive dialogue on the pilot Partners in Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). Through PTAP, colleges and universities cooperate with EPA and voluntarily commit to assist communities with their unaddressed technical assistance needs. A team of federal and academic partners will relate their experiences collaborating on two PTAP pilot projects. The first project centered on a specific Superfund site (Black Butte Mine in rural Oregon) and brought together stakeholders at EPA, a local school, and the Oregon State University SRP to develop K-8 educational materials about mercury in the environment and its effects on human health. The second project more broadly targeted impacted communities at Superfund sites across the country and brought together EPA and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Arizona SRPs to develop informational materials and interactive activities to convey the relevance of bioavailability/relative bioavailability to site cleanups and human health. University partners will share interactive exercises developed for community audiences and describe their implementation to date.

Top of Page

Successful EPA EWDJT Grantee Case Studies
Presenters: Kathleen Curry, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4; Ann Terry, Memphis Bioworks Foundation; Pamela Scherer, Florida State College at Jacksonville; Art Shanks, Cypress Mandela Training Center
Track 3 - All Levels

EPA's Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grants offer community stakeholders the opportunity to garner the skills needed to work in environmental jobs through training and job placement.

The grants focus on training in solid and hazardous waste remediation, environmental health and safety, and wastewater-related fields. Funding is competitively awarded annually to eligible entities, which include educational institutions, workforce development agencies and nonprofit organizations.

This year, EPA will award close to $3.5 million to 17 cooperative agreement recipients at amounts of up to $200,000 each. This panel will provide the opportunity for workshop attendees to hear from successful grant recipients about techniques and strategies for involving communities in making a visible difference in their communities through outreach, training and job placement. Each speaker will show that partnerships are paramount to ensuring a successful workforce development and job training program.

Download Presentation (PDF) (22 pp, 821KB)

Top of Page

20 Years in Ashland; Reviving Trust and Engagement through Multi-method Communication
Presenters: Anke Corbeil and Liz Evans, Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Track 4 - All levels

Public health educator, Anke Hildebrandt, and epidemiologist, Liz Evans, will lead an interactive discussion on reviving community trust through communication and community involvement, using as their example a 20+ year cleanup of a former manufactured gas plant in downtown Ashland, Wisconsin. This very complex Superfund site has undergone wave after wave of outreach over the past 20 years, including countless public availability sessions, open houses, fact sheets and interagency stakeholder meetings. Directly adjacent to the site are an elementary school, RV park, hotels, homes, businesses, marina, and park. In 2014, ground was finally broken for the first phase of the cleanup (upland portion). As often is the case with long, drawn out, site investigation and remediation efforts, the community began to lose trust in the process, and communication and community involvement became more difficult. We will discuss and analyze how multiple new(er) methods of communication helped to reengage the community, including: call-in numbers, real-time air monitoring data, community bulletins, emergency tabletop exercises, community action groups, information sessions and Facebook. This session will redefine your interagency and stakeholder communication and help you realize the impact that your early and ongoing community engagement has at a complex cleanup site. No singular communication method is the answer, and in today's high-tech world, we cannot forget about low-tech options. During the session, participants will also complete a message map for their own site/need.

Download Presentation (PDF) (68 pp, 3.37MB)

Top of Page

Leveraging Small Business Capacity
Presenter: Joan Rogers, Paula Hoag, Jennifer Tilden, Teree Henderson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Small Business Programs
Track 3 -Intermediate

This small business development session will feature a round of panelists split into four different areas of focus. The panelists will help local community practitioners understand how to leverage small business capacity for a stronger community. Attendees will learn how to access resources focused on starting and building a business, complying with environmental regulations, obtaining EPA and other federal grant dollars, as well as developing a sustainability plan specifically for small businesses. After each focus area, there will be time available to engage with the presenters and talk about local issues or constraints unique to the Atlanta, Georgia, area.

Panel Focus Areas

  • Starting and Building Your Small Business. Atlanta Small Business Administration (SBA) resources and training; SBA's Georgia District Office (Jennifer Tilden, SBA)
  • Complying with EPA Regulations. Understanding, complying with and finding support for EPA regulations; EPA's Asbestos Small Business Ombudsman (Joan B. Rogers, EPA)
  • Greening your Small Business. A guided approach to greening specifically for small business; EPA's Office of Small Business Programs (Paula Hoag, EPA)
  • EPA Grant Funding Opportunities. The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise rule and understanding the EPA grant funding process; EPA's Office of Small Business Programs (Teree Henderson)

Download Presentation 1 (PDF) (18 pp, 4209KB)
Download Presentation 2 (PDF) (16 pp, 1.88MB)
Download Presentation 3 (PDF) (25 pp, 1.58MB)
Download Presentation 4 (PDF) (24 pp, 600KB)

Top of Page

Tuesday, August 4 | 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (90-Minute Information Sessions)

More than Just Meetings: Participatory Tools for Community Action
Presenter: Kyle Bozentko, Jefferson Center
Track 1 - Introductory

The goal of this workshop is for attendees to explore opportunities to incorporate deliberative participation events into broader models of social and community action in response to the local impacts of climate change and other environmental challenges. The session will provide a case study of the Rural Climate Dialogues initiative led by the Jefferson Center and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy as a model of participation that leads to broader community action. This model for community participation, deliberation and organizing offers a new way to engage communities in discussions of climate change and related environmental challenges by focusing on local impacts and responses rather than promoting interventions that seem distant from day-to-day concerns of community residents. The program promotes active collaboration between technical experts, public and government agency officials, and community members through study, discussion and joint action to address local climate change-related challenges.

This session will be valuable for practitioners seeking new ways to incorporate deliberative methods in their community involvement toolkits. Participants will interact with one another to determine how participation and deliberation can: (1) fit within broader community processes that expand awareness of climate change, extreme weather and environmental challenges; (2) improve community resilience in the face of climate change and other environmental threats by expanding the use of community involvement events to improve local public participation; (3) reinvigorate local networks and build related capacity to enhance community responses to future challenges; and (4) identify policy priorities to inform local, state and regional climate policy.

Top of Page

Success of Silver Jackets Interagency Flood Risk Management Teams
Presenters: Brandon Brummett, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District; Manuela Johnson, Indiana Department of Homeland Security
Track 2 - All levels

Since 2005, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been participating in Interagency Flood Risk Management Teams known as "Silver Jackets" teams, which have grown from two initial teams in Indiana and Ohio, to include active or developing teams in more than 40 states. Participants on the teams typically include federal agencies, state agencies, academia, nonprofits and local governments. Participation is voluntary, but this does not detract people from participating. In fact some team members have chosen to continue participation within the teams after retiring from their agency. This presentation provides an overview of the Silver Jackets program and highlights examples of successful teams in Indiana and Kentucky. Examples of successes in these collaborative teams include leveraging of over $6 million in federal, state and local resources for flood risk management, community outreach, increased awareness and better understanding of flood risks, improved coordination and collaboration between different levels of government, better use of taxpayer dollars and even a regional Emmy award. The presentation includes an overview of efforts undertaken in Indiana and Kentucky, as well as tips on what makes these teams so successful.

Download Presentation (PDF) (34 pp, 4.41MB)

Top of Page

A Prepared Workforce for Sustainability
Presenter: Donele Wilkins, Green Door Initiative
Track 3 - Intermediate

The Green Door Initiative mission is to ensure that everyone is environmentally literate and capable of promoting and living a sustainable lifestyle. Sustainability in its truest form requires a balance between environmental protection, social equity and economic vitality. Communities disproportionately impacted by historical legacies of contamination and vulnerabilities created by certain disasters are especially in need of a strategy that will create safe, healthy places to live and thrive. For environmental justice communities, striking this balance can be somewhat daunting and is often unattainable, however, not impossible. Workforce development focused on remediation, rebuilding, and recreating livable spaces is an approach with enormous potential. This workshop will highlight a job-training model that aims to address each area of sustainability to transform lives and communities.

Top of Page

Gowanus Canal: A Case Study in Community Involvement
Presenters: Natalie Loney, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2 and Joseph Alexiou, Freelancer
Track 4 -All levels

The Gowanus Canal, built in 1869, was once a major transportation route for the then separate cities of Brooklyn and Manhattan. As a result of years of discharges, stormwater runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants from the many facilities that operated along the canal, it has become one of the nation's most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. The canal is located in a densely populated section of Brooklyn, with over 100,000 residents living within two miles of the canal. Contamination poses a threat to residents who use the canal for fishing and recreation. This 90-minute presentation will explore both traditional and contemporary community engagement techniques used at the site. Topics of discussion will include: using social media to give voice to a community facing the challenges of a Superfund cleanup in a densely populated, diverse urban environment; effective community involvement through leveraging Community Advisory Group interaction; increasing EPA's visibility in the community through non-traditional methods like Facebook and TED talks; and using EJSCREEN as an effective community engagement tool. Participants also will hear from a local resident on effective methods to engage a community facing a variety of issues including gentrification, impacts of climate change, remedial actions in an urban setting, and the challenges of educating a community on highly technical concepts.

Top of Page

Taking Science to the Streets: Leveraging Local Knowledge for Community Change
Presenters: Na'Taki Osborne-Jelks and Darryl Haddock, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance; Tony Torrence, Community Improvement Association
Track 2 -All levels

This session will describe ongoing, successful community/citizen science efforts in Northwest Atlanta's Proctor Creek Watershed in which community residents are using community science to augment expert knowledge to improve environmental problem-solving and address health disparities. Proctor Creek used to be a source of pride for Northwest Atlanta communities—a place where children played, people fished, and people were baptized. Today, however, Proctor Creek is highly impacted by pollution and other stressors and does not meet its designated use for fishing. Many of the watershed's residents, who are primarily African American, experience social and economic disparities. Recently designated by EPA as an Urban Waters Federal Partnership site, this once "forgotten" area of Atlanta is now the subject of intense focus from multiple government stakeholders, academic institutions, local and national nonprofits, and private developers in addition to residents and community organizations that have invested decades of sweat equity and activism to revitalize the watershed. Watershed residents want to ensure that solutions sought by government and private organizations are driven by community needs and include authentic engagement and collaborative problem-solving.

Specifically, this session will highlight three related yet distinct community/citizen science projects in which local, community knowledge has been leveraged and the capacity of watershed residents to engage in scientific research increased while empowering residents with tools to speak the language of decision-makers and influence local policy and practice to mitigate environmental risks, decrease potential vulnerabilities, and improve environmental quality and quality of life in the watershed.

Top of Page

Tuesday, August 4 | 2:45 - 5:45 (Three-Hour Field Trips)

Proctor Creek
Proctor Creek flows through Northwest Atlanta from downtown to the Chattahoochee River. The 23-square-mile watershed has a population of >51,000 people living in more than 38 neighborhoods, and it primarily traverses five City of Atlanta neighborhood planning units (NPUs). The creek used to be a source of pride for NW Atlanta communities—a place where children played, where people fished, and where people were baptized. Today, however, Proctor Creek is highly impacted by pollution and other stressors and does not meet its designated use for fishing.

Despite a rich cultural legacy, many of the watershed's residents, who are primarily African American, experience social and economic disparities. After decades of public disinvestment and neglect, these residents are faced with multiple environmental challenges that may pose health risks including: illegal dumping, impaired water quality, aging sewer infrastructure, brownfields, and pervasive flooding.

What was once a "forgotten" area of the City of Atlanta is now the subject of intense focus from multiple government stakeholders; academic institutions; local and national non-profits; and private developers in addition to residents and community organizations that have invested decades of sweat equity and activism to revitalize the watershed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently selected Proctor Creek for the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, and a resident-led organization, the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, has been established to harness collective assets, power, and voice among residents to ensure that solutions sought by other stakeholders are driven by community needs and include authentic engagement and principles of collaborative problem-solving.

This tour will take participants to this local waterway for a walking tour to examine trouble areas ,i.e., flooding, erosion, and pollution, and discuss community efforts and other collaborative action to lessen these challenges.

Key topics discussed on this tour

  • Community activism and engagement
  • Environmental justice
  • Successful citizen science initiatives
  • Workforce development
  • Flood prevention and green infrastructure
  • Public health near waterways
  • Pollution control
  • Investment and policy solutions

Top of Page

The Atlanta BeltLine Tour

Registered conference attendees will board one of the Atlanta BeltLine, 30-Passenger Busses and have a guided tour of the entire, 22-mile BeltLine corridor.

The Atlanta BeltLine is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States. The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many neighborhoods directly to each other.

The Atlanta BeltLine is transforming the city with a combination of rail, trail, greenspace, housing and art. It will ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods, provide first and last mile connectivity for regional transportation initiatives, and put Atlanta on a path to 21st century economic growth and sustainability. The beauty of the Atlanta BeltLine is that it offers not only modern conveyances and exciting new development, but it is a living, breathing part of our community; not simply a means of getting somewhere, but a destination unto itself. It offers a chance for Atlanta to redefine what it is to be a neighbor, to be a community, to be a region, and to share all that it has to offer.

Top of Page

Tuesday, August 4 | 2:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. (Three-Hour Training)

Beyond Town Hall Meetings: Multifaceted and Meaningful Citizen Engagement
Presenter: Misty Bruckner, Center for Urban Studies
Track 1 - All Levels

The Hugo Wall School of Public Affairs at Wichita State University (HWS) will use a case study of a four-phase community engagement process by the City of Wichita/Sedgwick County that engaged thousands of citizens to explore with participants a new framework for citizen engagement. The HWS was the project coordinator for the Wichita/Sedgwick County community in developing an engagement process designed to actively engage citizens in defining the future of the community through a comprehensive planning process, including a "willingness to pay" component. Participants will explore the four phases of the engagement process that included: 1) issue identification; 2) citizen survey; 3) community conversations; and 4) plan development.

Specifically, the HWS will use the case study to explore how to engage citizens through special invitations, technology and the "wedding crashers" approach for citizen participation. In addition, the HWS will share techniques to move beyond basic citizen satisfaction surveys, to surveys that evaluate a citizen's attachment to a community, trust of government, and willingness to pay for future investments. During this interactive presentation, participants will evaluate the real purpose of citizen engagement, explore new techniques for involving citizens, and create a process to include citizens in meaningful issues in the community. The session will explore lessons learned, common pitfalls and courageous conversations for continual improvement in civic engagement. Most importantly, the session is designed to help participants think about planning for citizen engagement, designing impactful processes and building civic infrastructure in communities.

Download Presentation (PDF) (48 pp, 2.75MB)

Top of Page

Coalition Building: Mobilizing Community Capacity and Leveraging Productive Partnerships
Presenters: Vernice Miller-Travis and Sarah Malpass, Skeo Solutions; Stephanie Brown, U.S. EPA, Region 4; Vivian Starks, Northern Birmingham Community Coalition; Barbara Newman, Jefferson County Department of Health
Track 2 - Advanced

Community Involvement Coordinators (CICs) are often the face of the federal government in communities impacted by pollution, environmental justice concerns and long-term disinvestment. Too frequently, these communities have felt ignored by decision-makers and are faced with challenges that reach beyond environmental vulnerability, including poverty, health disparities, unsafe housing, limited access to healthy food, and unemployment/underemployment. With so many pressing community needs and a legacy of distrust between the community and government, it can be difficult for CICs to engage communities effectively about environmental cleanup.

At the 35th Avenue Superfund site, in Birmingham, Alabama, EPA found itself facing just such a challenge. With the leadership of a Superfund CIC, the Northern Birmingham Community Coalition (NBCC) formed in 2013 to plan for the revitalization of four neighborhoods impacted by the Superfund cleanup process. The NBCC has forged a shared vision and action plan to improve health, housing and commercial revitalization. NBCC efforts have attracted significant attention from potential local and national partners, who have become resource partners invested in the implementation of the NBCC's Action Plan.

Come hear the story of the NBCC's formation, including how this investment built trust between residents and Agency representatives, created a venue to address a broader set of community needs, and allowed EPA to make progress on addressing the environmental conditions impacting the community! The session will include a fun and engaging interactive training designed to help you explore the steps and benefits of facilitating an effective coalition-building process in the communities in which you work.

Top of Page

Saving Lives and Transforming Communities through Green Jobs
Presenters: David Mauroff, Urban Strategies, Inc.; Tyrone Mullins, Shannon Watts, and Jammal Edwards, Green Streets; Sophie Constantinou, Citizen Film
Track 3 - All levels

"Green Streets" is a multimedia documentary collaboration between filmmakers and public housing residents transforming their marginalized neighborhoods—sites of trauma, poverty and turf warfare—into sustainable communities. This workshop, consisting of a film screening and interactive panel discussion, will illustrate how the social enterprise functions and how similar ventures can be launched.

The film follows Tyrone Mullins, Shannon Watts, Jammal Edwards and other young entrepreneurs as they turn trash into cash in their distressed San Francisco public housing communities. With mentorship from David Mauroff and Sophie Constantinou and through trial and error, Green Streets employees have learned to run a business and manage waste for many hundreds of low-income housing units, establishing recycling where previous efforts had failed.

Citizen Film produces and screens iterative versions of the film in partnership with Green Streets. In screenings across the country and throughout the Bay Area, we have convened public officials, property managers, waste management executives and other community and environmental stakeholders. The film tracks the evolution of the venture as designed by Mauroff and implemented by a crew of underemployed entrepreneurs. We will discuss how it works and how a diverse group of stakeholders—from government, the public and private sectors and community-based organizations—have contributed to its growth, with the aim of activating similar initiatives.

"Green Streets" illustrates how community-focused, environmentally-conscious entrepreneurship can transform distressed communities. Approximately 8 million people live in affordable-housing across the U.S. By engaging this population in recycling and composting, social entrepreneurs like Mullins, Watts and Edwards can turn waste into a resource, providing workers with an opportunity to build skills and careers they need in order to take care of themselves, their families and their communities.

Top of Page

Building Trust in EPA
Presenter: John Godec, The Participation Company
Track 4 - All levels

This introductory session will help people understand, prevent and manage interactions with skeptical, angry and frightened citizens who oppose your policies, efforts and decisions. We'll show you how to get people to trust you, work with you and help you grow lasting credibility.

This session will be valuable to all professional staff and managers who have influence in the trustworthiness and credibility of EPA.

  • You'll learn to manage projects and goals better in the current culture of pop-media and social media scrutiny and public and political polarity.
  • Leave with a better understanding of public frustration and anger with public institutions and, more importantly, how to overcome the challenges with emotional intelligence and humanizing EPA.
  • Understand the myths of opposition and conflict and why most judgments about angry people and their emotions are wrong in the first place.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid the behaviors that you and your staff routinely demonstrate that only make people angrier.
  • Know the most common behaviors and what to do to reduce public anger and opposition and increase your own trustworthiness, credibility and effectiveness.

This workshop is a practical and active session dealing with the most current research from a variety of global sources applied to tested and proven real world experience.

Download Presentation (PDF) (51 pp, 2.41MB)

Top of Page

Strategic Planning and Creating Measures That Matter
Presenter: Melissa Levy, Community Roots
Track 1 - All levels

This highly interactive session will introduce participants to an alternative process for strategic planning and measurement. Participants will have the opportunity to work through the process using a case study. The process moves from identifying goals to developing indicators of progress to designing measures, which helps identify the leverage points in an organization's work. Participants will work in groups and have an opportunity to experience the process firsthand. Participants will learn about the importance of defining terms and creating a shared language, as well as the difference between measuring outcomes and activities. Too often, organizations measure activities (how many meetings, how many people, etc.) rather than the true outcomes of their work (true behavioral change). This process helps to focus an organization's actions so they are more impactful. Participants also will learn how to create measures that matter and learn the importance of using the results of measurement to improve programs, communicate to stakeholders and influence decision-makers.

The process has been used by the Ford Foundation, the Wallace Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, community foundations, nonprofit organizations, and state agencies. This workshop was very well-received at three previous EPA Community Involvement Conferences.

Download Presentation (PDF) (24 pp, 2.30MB)

Top of Page

Wednesday, August 5 | 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. (90-Minute Information Sessions)

Using the Toxics Release Inventory to Encourage Community Involvement
Presenter: Ezequiel Velez; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4
Track 1 - All levels

Success in motivating a community to become active in bringing environmental change requires creating awareness of what needs to change. Therefore, the starting point for any community leader who is determined to create effective community involvement is proving the need for change. Unfortunately, no one will ever change what they can't measure. Consequently, finding the right tool to measure change is key to creating community involvement.

Some tools are too expensive to obtain, and others are too complicated to use. What if there was a no-cost, easy-to-use tool that will help you measure the environmental condition or the progress of a facility or a community? The good news is such a tool exists. It is called the "Toxics Release Inventory" (TRI) and it is available free of charge. Not only does it help you measure the current environmental condition of a community, but also shows you the progress (or lack of it) that a facility or a community has had through the years. Through this presentation and an interactive exercise you will learn how easy it is to use several TRI tools (Envirofacts, TRI Explorer).

Measuring the need for change doesn't guarantee change. For this reason, this presentation also will include a demonstration and an interactive case study exercise on how to use the Pollution Prevention Tool to engage your community in identifying effective environmental practices that other facilities have used to bring real environmental change to their communities.

Download Presentation (PDF) (32 pp, 6.06MB)

Top of Page

Making a Visible Difference: The ATSDR Brownfield/Land Reuse Health Initiative
Presenters: Laurel Berman, Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Tina Forrester, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR); Monica Robinson, Fulton County Health Department; Miles Ballogg, Cardno TBE Group; Gita Rampersad, Health Care Consultant, BROWN Member
Track 2 -All levels

ATSDR's Brownfield/Land Reuse (BFLR) Health Initiative helps communities incorporate health considerations in land reuse decisions. People can turn vacant or underused land into places that benefit the whole community. ATSDR promotes community health as part of redevelopment and works with the EPA, state and local officials, developers, and communities to include health in these types of projects. Through its Community Partnerships project and with help from the Brownfield Reuse Opportunity Working Network (BROWN, a national partnership of public health leaders), the ATSDR BFLR Health Initiative assists communities in organizing to address identified health issues arising from brownfield and land reuse sites—old gas stations and abandoned buildings, former industrial sites, methamphetamine labs, vacant lots, and rural dumps—found throughout the U.S.

This informative and interactive presentation by a panel of health experts from the public and private sectors will provide an overview of the ATSDR BFLR Health Initiative, describe the formation and makeup of BROWN, provide direction on raising a community's voice on public health concerns and policies, and illustrate through exciting storytelling, rich partnerships driving innovative approaches to community health improvement.

Download Presentation (PDF) (50 pp, 1.93MB)

Top of Page

Community Resiliency: Environmental Justice Communities Have Visions Too!
Presenters: Sheryl Good, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4; Wannetta Mallette, City of North Charleston/Low Country Alliance for Model Communities; Mrya Reece, South Carolina Department of Environmental Health and Control; Reggie Barner, Graniteville Community Coalition/Community Development and Improvement Corporation
Track 3 - Intermediate

Numerous communities in South Carolina face disproportionate environmental health impacts and inequitable development. While individuals and grassroots organizations in these areas are passionate about neighborhood improvement, they lack the resources, political wherewithal and formal education that long-range planning requires.

In order to build resilience, environmental justice communities must plan for the long-term to ensure that they are able to recover faster and more efficiently, maintain local control over recovery and take advantage of equitable redevelopment opportunities. The successful integration of planning and environmental justice is achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process. This presentation provides an overview of how two grassroots organizations developed their vision (with the assistance of local, state and federal agencies) and built resilience in light of the challenges posed by environmental impacts.

A collaborative partnership between EPA Region 4's Environmental Justice and Sustainability Office and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control funded an initiative to strengthen the leadership skills that these communities needed. This alliance was a pilot program based in South Carolina, which EPA Region 4 sought to replicate throughout the Southeast. These two governmental organizations formed the Leaders in Environmental Action Pilots Program (LEAP). The main goal of LEAP was to foster community-based leadership within these overburdened communities so that they may become vibrant, healthy and economically stable.

Download Presentation 1 (PDF) (16 pp, 5.48MB)
Download Presentation 2 (PDF) (33 pp, 980KB)

Top of Page

Transdisciplinary Collaborations to Enhance Interactions with Communities at Contaminated Sites
Presenters: Ben Gerhardstein, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; Amanda Pease, U.S. EPA, Region 9; Rose Eitemiller, Community Coalition of Dewey-Humboldt; Sarah Wilkinson, University of Arizona, Superfund Research Program; Monica Ramirez-Andreotta, University of Arizona
Track 2 - All levels

From health risks, to clean-up options, to research ideas, communities located near hazardous waste sites often have diverse and multifaceted needs, questions, and concerns that one organization alone cannot address. When government agencies, academic institutions, community leaders and others work together as a transdisciplinary team at a site, they are better able to address community concerns and meet community involvement, education, and capacity building needs than each could acting alone. A transdisciplinary team includes members from diverse institutional (e.g., government, academic, community) and disciplinary (e.g., environmental scientist, public health professional, local expert) backgrounds. Effective collaboration involves a creative problem solving process where all parties contribute to identifying, defining, and resolving problems together.

This session will draw upon lessons learned from an ongoing transdisciplinary collaboration at the Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund site in Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona. There, a transdisciplinary team including federal (EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry), state (the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality), academic (University of Arizona Superfund Research Program) and community (Community Coalition of Dewey-Humboldt) organizations collaborate to coordinate activities, develop public messages, and share information about community needs, concerns, feedback, and engagement opportunities. This interactive session will (1) summarize the benefits of transdisciplinary collaboration at environmental contamination sites, (2) highlight lessons learned from the Iron King Mine Site, and (3) facilitate a series of small group conversations (in a World Café format) to help attendees explore collaboration opportunities in their work.

Download Presentation (PDF) (42pp, 2.9MB)

Top of Page

Using Focused Conversations/Guided Discussion as an Early Outreach Tool
Presenters: Diane Russell, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5; Doug Sarno, Forum Facilitation Group; David Sommers, Saginaw-Tittabawassee Rivers Contamination CAG
Track 1 - All levels

Guided Discussion, also known as Focused Conversation, is a community involvement tool that provides meaningful information to the project team and also gives communities an opportunity to explore challenging issues early in the cleanup process. In this session, we will explore how to design and use this tool to engage the community early at a values level, and discuss how we can incorporate best practices for public participation into the Superfund process. Participants will have the opportunity to explore and discuss how such tools might be applicable to the challenges they are facing at their sites.

Diane Russell, EPA Region 5 Community Involvement Coordinator, will provide an overview of an EPA project that utilized this tool and helped EPA propose a cleanup plan that integrated community thoughts and values learned from community discussions. Doug Sarno, a leader in public participation and group facilitation will then discuss the tools design and best practice. The presentation will conclude with thoughts from a participant of the community discussion, Dave Sommers, the President of the Saginaw-Tittabawassee Rivers Contamination Community Advisory Group.

After the presentation, session participants will engage in an interactive exercise where they will practice the use of this tool at a mock cleanup site. Participants will discuss trade-offs that come with various cleanup options and explore community values from differing perspectives. The session will conclude with a panel/participant discussion on the exercise and lessons learned.

Download Presentation (PDF) (8pp, 3.8MB)
Download Options Trade-off Worksheet (PDF) (2pp, 56KB)

Top of Page

Wednesday, August 5 | 10:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. (90-Minute Information Sessions)

Finding a Facilitator for the Fuss (or Opportunity)
Presenters: Mary Apostolico, Steve Garon, and Lee-Ann Tracy, SRA International, Inc.
Track 1 - All levels

It is obvious when a community involvement event does not go well, but who really notices when it runs smoothly? This is one of the challenges associated with helping people understand the value of facilitation. High-quality facilitation is often defined by absence—the absence of drama, inefficiency, dysfunction and acrimony. Given its benefits and utility, why don't more people use facilitation in the context of community involvement? In this presentation, we will suggest and explore three possible answers to this question:

  1. Facilitation is viewed too narrowly; therefore, we will discuss and provide examples of the range of community involvement activities and services a facilitator can perform.
  2. People do not know how to obtain facilitation services. Even if people understand and appreciate its benefits, they don't know how to obtain services or get a facilitator from "there" to "here;" hence, we will provide information on a variety of mechanisms for obtaining facilitation assistance.
  3. People do not know what skills or qualities they are looking for in a facilitator. Even if people are familiar with where to get facilitation services, they don't know how to find the right person for the job; thus, we will offer guidance and a hands-on exercise on selecting an appropriate facilitator for a situation.

This presentation is for anyone who faces community involvement challenges or opportunities that would benefit from professional facilitation support. During the presentation, participants will be encouraged to discuss their own specific examples.

Top of Page

Reclaiming a Contaminated Site to Reclaim a Community
Presenters: Michael Deely and Sana Qureshi, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; Meishka Mitchell, Cooper's Ferry Partnership
Track 2 - All levels

The Salvation Army Camden Kroc Center Project is the perfect case study to demonstrate how leveraging existing capacity and resources in community involvement can lead to the transformation and redevelopment of a large contaminated landfill into a state-of-the-art community center that provides art, aquatics, fitness and learning programs, child care, employment and health services to the hard-working, ethnically diverse surrounding neighborhood. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) collaborated with EPA, the Camden Redevelopment Agency, Salvation Army, Cramer Hill Development Corporation and the Cooper's Ferry Partnership to identify and maximize multi-agency funding sources that paid for the investigation and cleanup of the 85-acre Harrison Avenue Landfill, located in the Cramer Hill Brownfield Development Area. These funding sources, together with the partners' ability to harness existing community support and institutional knowledge, paved the way for a $59 million grant from the Ray and Joan Kroc Foundation to fund the construction and operation of the innovative community center, which provides access to open space and recreation facilities that were otherwise absent in the area.

NJDEP and its partners were dedicated to creating a community-driven plan. The session will focus on the innovative approaches used to elicit input from local residents, business owners, institutions, students, community leaders and political representatives. Over 300 surveys were conducted to measure resident concerns on housing, open space, services, shopping and quality-of-life issues. Many interviews, focus groups and public meetings were held to better understand the challenges and discuss the vision of the community.

Top of Page

It's All About the Green
Presenters: Sharon Turner, GREENHOOD; Melanie Wofford, Girls Inc.; Lucy LaVoulle, Eco Training USA; Michelle Dawkins, Safety MD; Shannon Goodman, Lifecycle Building Center
Track 3 - All levels

The 3rd Track "Healthy Environment & Healthy Economy = Sustainable Community" will include the following topics of discussion: 1) Creating a Green Economy from a community perspective; 2) Green Infrastructure and Water Quality; 3) Environmental Justice + Workforce Development = Sustainable Economic Justice; 4) Converting Waste into a Valuable Resource; and 5) Transformation of Food Deserts through Urban Agriculture and Agribusiness. This session will cover how the five presenters from a combined grassroots and corporate perspectives have engaged or are currently engaging community residents, community-based organizations, public and private partners in becoming environmental stewards in communities that have a high levels of health and economic disparities through education, workforce development, research and collaboration.

Download Presentation 1 (PDF) (10 pp, 1.72MB)
Download Presentation 2 (PDF) (12 pp, 1.24MB)
Download Presentation 3 (PDF) (11 pp, 497KB)
Download Survey Results and Analysis Handout (PDF) (2 pp, 50.1KB)

Top of Page

Eliminating Silos to Work Collectively and Implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to Bring Change, Create Healthy Environments and Sustainable Communities
Presenters: Kedesch Altidor-Dorcély, Michelle Davis, and Tanya Pagán Raggio-Ashley, US Department of Health and Human Services, Region II
Track 3 - All levels

This panel will address how we can work collaboratively to move from unhealthy environments, people and economies to healthy sustainable communities. A community's social, economic, and environmental conditions contribute to health. The more contaminants and pollution a person is exposed to, the higher the health risks. The built environment impacts different aspects of the human health. Moreover, in environmental justice communities the health disparities and inequalities are much greater and disproportionately affect low income and communities of color. A person's social circumstances affects how he/she lives, works, and plays. These conditions commonly referred to as "social determinants of health" (SDOH) influence health outcomes. Decreasing disparities and inequalities will provide communities with more viable opportunities while improving the individual's quality of life and life expectancy. Therefore, it is essential to place health at the forefront.

In order to address the health disparities accompanying unhealthy environments, there needs to be a coordinated effort with a wide range of stakeholders to address the various environmental and healthcare needs. One of these key partners is the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and all its sub-agencies (Opdivs). This session will address by pulling their talents, resources, and programs to work more effectively and efficiently with community stakeholders to create healthy environments and communities, which can lead to turning around the economy and creating sustainable communities. In addition to HHS resources, we will share how the ACA prevention public health legislation and funding can be maximized to addresses insurance coverage, preventive services, community disease, prevention and health promotion, prevention research and models, employer wellness programs, education, and training of the health workforce to create healthier environments, economies and sustainable communities.

Top of Page

Planning for Long Distance Engagement
Presenters: Margaret Ross, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center; Laura Knudsen, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste & Emergency Response; Kay Morrison, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10; Alexander Mandell, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3; Jason Gershowitz, Kearns & West
Track 4 - All levels

Short on travel funds or time but still want to conduct community engagement? Have you ever considered long distance engagement? The purpose of this session is to inform EPA staff and stakeholders about new planning tools for community engagement in situations where travel opportunities are minimal. The OSWER OSRTI Community Involvement and Program Initiatives Branch has been working with the EPA Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center to develop guides to assist community involvement coordinators, public affairs specialists, and other EPA staff working with communities in planning for and executing community engagement using a variety of collaborative technologies. This session will include a presentation of a guide of currently available technologies and how to access them, a planning guide for online meetings, and a planning guide for hybrid (in person and online) meetings.

Download Presentation (PDF) (31 pp, 771KB)

Top of Page

Wednesday, August 5 | 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 (Three-Hour Field Trip)

The Atlanta BeltLine Tour

Registered conference attendees will board one of the Atlanta BeltLine, 30-Passenger Buses and have a guided tour of the entire, 22-mile BeltLine corridor.

The Atlanta BeltLine is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States. The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many neighborhoods directly to each other.

The Atlanta BeltLine is transforming the city with a combination of rail, trail, greenspace, housing and art. It will ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods, provide first and last mile connectivity for regional transportation initiatives, and put Atlanta on a path to 21st century economic growth and sustainability. The beauty of the Atlanta BeltLine is that it offers not only modern conveyances and exciting new development, but it is a living, breathing part of our community; not simply a means of getting somewhere, but a destination unto itself. It offers a chance for Atlanta to redefine what it is to be a neighbor, to be a community, to be a region, and to share all that it has to offer.

Top of Page

Wednesday, August 5 | 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 (Four-Hour Field Trip)

Atlantic Station

Registered conference attendees will board a chartered bus and be transported over to Atlantic Station, where they will take a walking, guided tour of this major, mixed use development. Atlantic Station is a mixed use neighborhood development on the northwestern edge of Midtown Atlanta, Georgia comprising a vibrant retail district, office space, condominiums, townhomes and apartment buildings. First planned in the mid-1990s and officially opened in 2005, the neighborhood's 138 acres are located on the former brownfield site of the Atlantic Steel mill. Atlantic Station has since become the downtown destination for festivals, shopping, dining and entertainment.

Top of Page

Wednesday, August 5 | 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Four-hour Training)

Do We Involve or Negotiate with the Community?
Presenter: Alvin Chun
Track 1 - All levels

The goal of the session is to show participants that negotiation is an essential tool in their work with communities. Participants will be engaged in a thought-provoking discussion about their objectives for community involvement and how to succeed. The session leader will seek out opposing views and negotiate with the participants as they themselves might with a community to help them appreciate the attitudes and skills required for successful negotiation. Community involvement specialists, technical staff and managers who attend will gain new insights and useful techniques for their work.

Key topics of the session are:

  • A Key to Successful Negotiations—Build Trust With Communities.
  • Problem Solving—Acknowledge Both Your and Community Concerns and Resolve Differences Honestly and Transparently to Reach Agreement.
  • Challenges for the Community Involvement Specialists and Their Team—Agreement on Attitudes, Behaviors and Goals.

Download Presentation (PDF) (16 pp, 241KB)

Top of Page

EJSCREEN: EPA's New Screening and Mapping Tool for Environmental Justice Considerations
Presenters: Matthew Tejada and Kevin Olp, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Justice
Track 2 - Introductory

EJSCREEN is EPA's new publicly available environmental justice screening and mapping tool. It offers a variety of powerful data and mapping capabilities that enable users to access environmental and demographic information at high geographic resolution across the entire country, in order to highlight places that may warrant additional environmental justice considerations. This session will focus on how to use EJSCREEN to assist efforts by environmental justice stakeholders in identifying and addressing potential environmental disparities and other environmental justice issues. The session will have several components, including: 1) an overview of EJSCREEN and how it has been utilized by the EPA; 2) a demonstration of the tool, and a step-by-step walk through of the different features and data within the tool; 3) interactive case studies on how to use EJSCREEN in different situations to supplement and enhance local analyses in a variety of different geographic and stakeholder contexts; and 4) a dialogue on the different ways participants are interested in using the tool, and feedback for how EPA can improve EJSCREEN in future updates with additional data and enhancements. This last section will be particularly important as EPA is actively seeking feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders to improve the tool and better meet the needs of its thousands of users outside the agency.

Download Presentation (PDF) (19 pp, 1.92MB)

Top of Page

Health Impact Assessment: Engaging Communities in Local Decisions
Presenters: Florence Fulk, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development; Tami Thomas-Burton and David Egetter, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4; James Dills, Georgia State University, Na'Taki Osborne-Jelks, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance
Track 3 - All levels

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is an emerging decision-support tool that has shown promise in assisting local, state, and federal agencies in understanding the public health consequences of a project, plan, or policy. It is a structured approach that uses scientific data, professional expertise and stakeholder input to identify and evaluate public health impacts of a pending decision or action. What makes HIA different from other health assessments commonly used, such as human health risk assessment (HHRA) or those conducted as part of an environmental impact statement (EIS), is that HIAs will often times focus on multiple determinants and dimensions of health in its assessment. In addition as both a health protection and health promotion tool, HIA suggests potential actions that could minimize adverse health impacts and optimize beneficial health outcomes.

HIA is also a proven tool that is inclusive of community feedback and input. A core tenant of the HIA process is stakeholder and community involvement at all stages of the HIA process. Bringing community and stakeholders to the table early and often results in meaningful community engagement beyond the traditional norms of listening sessions and stakeholder forums.

During this training session participants will: be introduced to the HIA process; gain a greater understanding of the determinants of health; explore the differences and similarities between HIA and other types of assessments; and engage in activities to demonstrate community and stakeholder participation in the HIA process. The HIA of the Boone Boulevard Green Street Project will be used to provide examples of community and stakeholder engagement during the HIA process and to share lessons learned to advance community and stakeholder engagement in similar projects. This HIA evaluated a pending decision by the City Of Atlanta to implement a green infrastructure project in the Proctor Creek communities of Atlanta, GA.

Top of Page

3D Democracy Design Tool: Bringing Best In-Person CI Practices Online
Presenters: Nancy Glock-Grueneich and Tim Bonneman, Intellitics; Leanne Nurse, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Policy
Track 4 - Advanced

New to the use of digital tools in community involvement? Or an old hand? Here we look at how digital tools can support the principles underlying all effective public engagement and how the right use of the right digital tools can make citizen engagement far more meaningful—easier to organize, more inclusive, more satisfying to all actors and in the end, far more useful to agencies that are mandated to involve their communities.

Public engagement can be high stakes and high risk. New tools can substantially increase the payoffs for such work, but they also up the ante, raising expectations and adding many new factors to juggle, such as greater numbers, distance, diversity and data.

This session presents a process design tool that accounts for these new variables while building on the best of community involvement practices from traditional in-person settings. The "3D Democracy Design" grid (a laminated fold-out available online and with links to further resources) is a tool that covers the factors, functions and features to consider in designing community involvement for in-person, online or hybrid situations. Participants will practice using the tool to analyze three distinct situations where digital technology, rightly used, could have a positive impact. There will also be time to reflect on how these technologies are changing the very nature of public engagement and your own roles in it.

Two free follow-on webinars will be offered at your job: the first a month or so after your return and the second to be determined.

Download Presentation 1 (PDF) (55 pp, 4.66MB)
Download Presentation 2 (PDF) (63 pp, 6.06MB)

Top of Page

Present Effectively with Style and Skill
Presenters: Pam Avery and Dominic Frederico, Turner4D
Track 1 - All levels

Community Involvement Coordinators and other EPA staffers often must present complex issues and complicated information to their many stakeholders, including community residents. How they present this information can make a big difference in how an EPA project, issue and the organization in general is perceived by audiences. This course is designed to give participants the confidence they need to "stand up and deliver" effectively, even in difficult situations. This half-day, interactive workshop features videotaped examples of effective and ineffective presentations, message development, one-on-one exercises to enhance each participant's confidence as a public speaker, and tips on how to handle difficult situations or hostile encounters. Participants will work in groups to prepare a brief presentation based on a relevant EPA scenario that will be delivered in an on-camera session. Each presentation will be discussed and critiqued by workshop trainers and fellow participants, followed by an on-camera "re-take" of each presentation, as time permits.

The course is limited to 18 EPA or other federal or state government agency participants who must commit to attending the workshop at the 2015 CIC Conference and Training. Each participant will be contacted by email prior to the conference to determine level of presentation experience, issues faced during presentations, and what he or she hopes to learn and practice during the workshop. A customized EPA "Present Effectively With Style and Skill" Training Manual will be handed out during the course.

Top of Page

Thursday, August 6 | 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. (Plenary Session)

  • Welcome: Anne Heard, Deputy Regional Administrator, U.S. EPA, Region 4
  • Community Perspective: Nathaniel Smith, Founder and Chief Equity Officer, Partnership for Southern Equity
    Mildred McClain, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Harambee House/Citizens for Environmental Justice
  • Closing Remarks/Poster Awards: Gregory Green, Division Director, U.S. EPA, Office of Air and Radiation, OAQPS
    Matthew Tejada, Director, U.S. EPA, Office of Environmental Justice, 2017 CITC Lead

Top of Page

Thursday, August 6 | 9:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. (Three-Hour Training)

Using Current and Emerging Technology in Citizen Science
Presenters:Barbara Martinez, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of the Science Advisor; Rachel McIntosh-Kastrinsky, Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health Environmental Health Fellowship Participant
Track 2 - All levels

Are you a citizen science practitioner? Are you designing citizen science projects or have an interest in doing so? Technology can have a profound effect on citizen science efforts. Various technologies can improve communication between scientists and citizen scientists, enable or facilitate data collection and analysis, and enhance the experience and education of the citizen scientist. As technologies improve and become more affordable, these opportunities increase. There is great potential for scientists and researchers to conduct more and larger citizen science projects when improvements in technology are easily accessible.

We are conducting a comprehensive review of the technology currently being used in citizen science efforts. In this session, we will share the progress of this review with participants and explore ways to make the materials more accessible to citizen science practitioners (i.e., through a toolkit or web resource). In addition, we will explore new ways to use the technology that we identify in citizen science efforts, including identifying new areas of research that may benefit from technology currently being used. Finally, we will identify technologies that could be developed in the future that would be particularly useful for citizen science projects. The ideas from this workshop will inform a future report on the evolving role of technology in citizen science.

Top of Page

BUILT: An Engagement Tool for Community Dialogue and Understanding
Presenter: Paula Downs, Wichita State University
Track 4 - All levels

New models of citizen engagement are needed to address the challenges facing communities and their civic leaders. One innovative, new model is the BUILT game. This interactive game allows citizens and leaders to engage in a civic planning simulation designed to help identify values and priorities within a community.

BUILT allows participants to engage in an environmental equal playing field. Participants of all ages, backgrounds, and perspectives can provide insight about community values, vision and needs, creating a foundation for local jurisdictions to make community decisions around planning and resource allocation.

The BUILT game structure allows participants to identify their own and others values. Through three rounds of game playing, there is an exchange of ideas requiring individuals to work together to develop their community an understand trade-offs that often need to be made. The first round involves individuals making decisions about the area around their home and what is individually important. The second round asks individuals to work with neighbors to develop their neighborhood and requires adjusting values and priorities for the greater good. The third round brings two neighborhoods together to a build a community. This round balances home owner preferences with functionality of a community and moves from "my" to "we" values.

Using the BUILT game fosters civil discourse about community planning and decision-making, and engages participants in a process that allows local leaders to collect information which can be integrated into effective planning for sustainable community growth.

Download Presentation (PDF) (23 pp, 1.66MB)

Top of Page

Thursday, August 6 | 1:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. (Four-Hour Training)

Ethical Challenges with Human Subjects Research Involving Communities
Presenters: Toby Schonfeld, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of the Science Advisor; Aric Edwards, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
Track 2 - All levels

In this workshop, we will engage participants in activities to identify and address the ethical challenges around three broad themes:

  1. Communities and community members as participants in research: Identifying relevant communities and engaging sensitively with the concerns, interests and priorities of those communities is an important part of planning an ethically-robust research protocol. Workshop participants will learn of historical failure in this realm, as well as strategies for avoiding some common pitfalls.
  2. Community-based participatory research (CBPR): Research protocol ideas may come from the community themselves or be developed through meaningful relationships with communities and community members. Participants will learn how anticipating the ethical challenges that arise from CBPR can enable researchers to partner with communities in a way that is mutually beneficial.
  3. Citizen scientists: Increasingly, researchers rely on citizen scientists to engage in data collection. In this workshop, we will address both ethical issues that can arise with citizen scientists as researchers, as well as the challenges that are presented when the citizen scientists themselves are the subjects of the research (or are collecting data that qualifies as human subjects research).

Communities are important sources of information for understanding how individuals and groups interact with the environment. Yet community involvement in human subjects research may also present ethical challenges. We have assembled an array of professionals and community member who have experience in various aspects of human subjects research in order to introduce workshop participants to best practices in the conduct of human subjects research with communities.

Download Presentation (PDF) (55 pp, 2.52MB)
Download Handout (PDF) (1 pp, 21.5KB)

Top of Page

Community Environmental Resilience: How to Identify, Support, and Improve It
Presenters: Keely Maxwell, Susan Julius, and Cynthia Yund, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development; Eli Walton, Student Contractor, EPA Office of Research and Development
Track 3 - All levels

Community resilience to disasters and climate change is a necessary underpinning of long-term social, economic and environmental well-being. Climate change, severe weather, natural disasters and human-caused incidents all pose risks to communities. Federal policies provide guidance for federal agencies, including the EPA, to incorporate resilience into their work in disasters, homeland security, and climate change. However, specifics are not provided and many questions arise: What is community resilience? Is the concept universal for all communities? What are the environmental aspects of resilience and what is EPA's role? How do we engage with communities on resilience? Are there metrics for community assessments, comparisons and progress?

This training prepares participants to understand the components of resilience and use that understanding to work with communities to build environmental resilience. First, we provide an overview of community resilience and the role EPA plays. We introduce participants to the concept of environmental resilience, which involves minimizing environmental risks associated with shocks or changes, assessing functionality of critical environmental and ecological services, and applying this learning process to reduce vulnerabilities and risks, and facilitate recovery. Next, we present two scenarios: 1) climate change risks and potential responses in a major East Coast city; and 2) handling of post-flooding waste in a Midwestern town. Participants will use these scenarios to develop strategies to engage communities in building environmental resilience. We discuss how to develop and use metrics to assess resilience needs and track progress in a way that meaningfully reflects local vulnerabilities, assets, and values.

Download Presentation (PDF) (28 pp, 2.16MB)

Top of Page

Thursday, August 6 | 9:15 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. (Seven-Hour Training)

Building Cultural Competence: Tools to Foster More Productive Community Relations
Presenters: Michael J. Lythcott, Vernice Miller-Travis, and Sarah Malpass, Skeo Solutions
Track 1 - All levels

Being seen as an "outsider," as part of a remedial project team, government agency or as a neighborhood advocate in an affected community can be a difficult and frustrating experience. Building Cultural Competence takes a close look at the role of culture in our lives and work. Through interactive exercises and group discussions, participants explore how they're "primed" to see the world based on several aspects of their own backgrounds. Then, participants consider the cultural backgrounds of other people and how they too are primed to view those they may consider "outsiders." The workshop helps participants circumvent many of the classic pitfalls of community engagement and generates new insights and opportunities for groups, neighborhoods and organizations to move forward together.

The workshop can be helpful in multiple settings, including:

  • Government agencies conducting community involvement in an atmosphere where there is little trust or limited working relationships.
  • Groups that bring together people with different skills from across an organization to work on high priority projects.
  • Community involvement projects that need to bring diverse groups together to work on environmental cleanup and redevelopment efforts.

Come learn how to create effective engagement between colleagues, community members and resource partners from other agencies and organizations! This highly interactive training includes challenging and fun activities designed to help participants stretch and gain new skills in cultural competency. It will also include a discussion of how this training has improved outcomes in communities experiencing strained relationships due to the legacies of long-term disinvestment and racial discrimination.

Top of Page

More Tools for Your Community Involvement Toolbox
Presenters: Stephani Roy McCallum and Erin Pote, Dialogue Partners
Track 1 - Intermediate

Running out of effective, constructive ways to bring people together in conversation? Have multiple issues to address? Are people passionate or emotional about the topics under discussion? Is what you have done before no longer working well? Fill your toolbox with some new, innovative and effective community involvement techniques that will help you bring people together, achieve objectives and ensure the opportunity for great conversations on important issues.

In this session, we will explore four new techniques tested by our team in multiple situations: Conversation Toolkit, Socratic Circle, Ideas Fair and Culturally Sensitive approaches to Community Involvement.

Through the use of case studies, multimedia presentation and small group work, attendees will get to experience these four techniques first hand.

For each tool, participants will:

  • Be introduced to a case study via experiential immersion in the situation and connect participant's hearts and minds to the issues.
  • Test out the approach through small and large group work.
  • Debrief the experience to identify what works and what doesn't, debrief tips, tricks and lessons learned.
  • Be provided reference material for future use and application.

Top of Page

Risk Communication and Neuroscience: New Frontiers
Presenter: Vincent Covello, Center for Risk Communication
Track 4 - All levels

This training explores how findings from the field of neuroscience can help risk communicators become more effective. It will explore cognitive and physiological barriers to informing people about risks and building trust.

The idea of using neuroscience to enhance risk communication is one of the most exciting developments in the field of environmental risk communication. We are now better able to equip people to think at their best and make informed decisions.

Download Presentation (PDF) (17 pp, 918KB)
Download Article Handout (PDF) (10 pp, 259KB)
Download Biographical Sketch Handout(PDF) (2 pp, 36.7KB)
Download Behavioral/Neuroscience Research Handout (PDF) (1 pp, 120KB)
Download Message Mapping Handout (PDF) (2 pp, 61.9KB)
Download Message Map Handout (PDF) (3 pp, 74.2KB)
Download Periodic Table Handout (PDF) (1 pp, 94.4KB)

Top of Page

OSWER Home | Superfund Home | Community Involvement Training Conference