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How Do We Get There? - Community Involvement

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Natural path through wooded areaA commitment to place is not just good environmentalism, not just a move toward resolving social and economic problems, it is also a means for us to become citizens in both the natural and social worlds. If the ground can become our common ground, we can begin to talk to one another again.
Gary Snyder, excerpted from the Utne Reader (July/August 1992)

Community involvement for action planning can be organized into a four (4) step process. This process starts with the organization of an action plan steering committee and then continues through to recommending action plan projects which the community supports. (Projects not having public support will have trouble getting implemented.)

Organize an Action Plan Steering Committee

The first step in the process is to develop a steering committee with a diverse membership. Members need to be willing to work together and to reach out to all segments of the community. They need to understand that they will be creating opportunities for change.

Determine if you can get any assistance with the steering committee effort. Perhaps the local chamber of commerce, a university, local government or non-profit organization may be able to supply staff, equipment or office space.

Organize a Green Community Town Meeting/Open House

Once the steering committee has been organized and has begun work on the action planning agenda they may wish to hold a Green Community Town Meeting or Open House to inform the public of their work and to invite them to become involved. The town meeting/open house format should include the following preparation and events:

Create Action Plan Subcommittees

Once the full steering committee has met several times and the Green Community Town Meeting/Open House has been held, there will be a better sense of the action planning topic areas which are of interest to the community. Subcommittees should be organized along the lines of topical areas such as land use, transportation, civic responsibility, public facilities, environmental stewardship, and cultural heritage.

Recommend Action Plan Projects

When each of the subcommittees has completed its work there should be a compilation of action plan projects. These projects should be further examined by the full steering committee subject to the following criteria:

You may not have the answers to each of these questions. Nevertheless they need to be asked to focus on project strengths and weaknesses. Through this process certain projects will rise above the others and allow for the selection and prioritization of action planning projects.

Tips for Successful Public Involvement

Now that you have a process and agenda for public involvement in action plan selection let's look at some ideas to make the public involvement process work in your community.

Getting Started

Workshop Organization

Utilize Media Resources Effectively

Resource Checklist

For more information, check out Building Local Partnerships, from Know Your Watershed, Conservation Information Technology Center. Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

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