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Let's Go! - Frequent Questions

Where Are We Now? | Where Are We Going? | Where Do We Want to Be? | How Do We Get There? | Let's Go!

Step Five
Bicycle Race

Q. I'm confused! How do Action Plans differ from the Let's Go section of the Green Communities Assistance Kit?

A. Action Plans are those actions that your community needs to act upon to get the community moving on the path to becoming a Green Community. For instance, you can develop action plans for noise control or watershed management or groundwater protection through the development of policies and programs. However, the tools identified in the Let's Go section will provide information on how to put these policies and programs into action. For instance, in Let's Go!, regulatory, technical and financial tools are available to assist in implementing your Action Plans.

Q. We just want to get down to business. Why should we bother with the first four questions?

A. If you're climbing a ladder that's leaning on the wrong wall, you won't get where you expected to! Sometimes an idea or project that looks wonderful will turn out to have unintended consequences. Or maybe it's just not really the most important step to take. Or maybe parts of the community will oppose the project, leading to wasted money and angry feelings that may poison future efforts to cooperate.

Proceeding through the first four questions can ensure that your project will be successful because you'll have community support, a collaborative team, and a clear set of priorities. You might find a new and better way to achieve your vision.

Q. Why do we need community involvement in the implementation phase of our work?

A. Leaders of a Green Community effort need to stay in close contact with the energy of citizens. Implementation can bog down without continuing interest from the larger public. One factor is that funding from elected officials may depend on political support. Grant making organizations often look for evidence of broad and active community support. Also, volunteers can implement many projects themselves. They can leverage small amounts of funding by contributing labor.

Green Community and other visioning projects often start with a small group of innovative citizens. Some of the group will eventually move on to other interests and projects. If the projects in your implementation plan are to continue, new leaders must appear. An investment in building a network of supporters can pay off in long-term success.

Q. Tracking the progress of a myriad of projects seems monumental. What's the best way to do this? Should we hire somebody to act as a point of contact?

A. Many communities do designate or hire a person to manage the overall implementation phase. Here again is an example of how broad community participation can pay off. There may be someone in your community with excellent organizational and managements skills - that person may be looking for a role to play. Why not ask? It is also important to let the public know of your projects and their progress. Periodic news items in the local paper will keep the support high and will encourage others to participate.

Q. How should we handle belated complaints by citizens: those who have just gotten involved now that they're seeing things happening in the community?

A. It is inherent in any action-based process that there will be differences of opinions as to how things should proceed. However, it may be helpful to have a summary of actions to date which describes how and why they relate to the overall process.

Q. Where can we get copies of zoning ordinances that other towns have adopted that have worked well?

A. The resource sections of the Green Communities Assistance Kit provide model ordinances and case studies from other communities throughout the country. Additional information can be found through land trusts and planning associations.

Q. How can we accommodate the views and desires of new people who move into the community?

A. A Green Community will likely attract people and businesses that support the vision of the community that has been established, however newcomers are often likely to want to change some things. They may like a rural environment, but they don't want to hear tractors at midnight or smell cow manure. Sometimes they want to spend money the community may not have targeted for fancy playgrounds and new schools. New residents, like the present ones, should be encouraged to participate in the Green Communities efforts and to run for positions in local government and the school board.

Q. Once the action plan is implemented is our work done?

A. A Green Community is, by definition and process, dynamic. It understands the necessity of maintaining its equilibrium and recognizes that changes will occur that can often upset that delicate balance. Therefore, it will be necessary to periodically revisit, review and renew the action plan. The community should establish a policy for reviewing the results of the plan and its implementation within a set period of time, say every five or ten years, and certainly after natural disasters.

Q. How do communities handle emergency situations such as proposed new development in or near a sensitive habitat?

A. We recommend that you proceed along the same course of action as outlined in our Assistance Kit but perhaps at an accelerated pace. You would want to more narrowly define the planning boundary and focus in on those issues related to compatible development and conservation planning. We would encourage taking a broad look at issues and resolve emergency situations within that framework. If an emergency situation happens once, it may happen again in the absence of good planning.

Q. How can we influence projects that the local government is implementing in our community?

A. Your community association (if one exists) should be aware of local or state government activities in your community. If not, you can request your local or state government to sponsor a community meeting or hearing. A meeting with your local government officials will enable you to collect more information on projects and provide a means to voice your ideas and concerns.

Q. Are the tools identified in Let's Go! consistent with state and local rules and regulations in our community?

A. You will need to tailor any of the tools to meet local rules and regulations. We have attempted to get a cross-section of tools which are available and would be useful to our community. You need to select and tailor these tools which are consistent with your needs and regulatory requirements.

Q. How do we select appropriate tools from the large group of tools identified in Let's Go?

A. You will need to review the various tools and select those that will best implement the Action Plans that you have developed. You may wish to select multiple tools to address financing, regulations and technical needs. You may also wish to search for additional tools. Check out Resources for additional sources of tools and information. Remember, the listing we have provided is not exhaustive and you may want to add to the list (and let us know if you find something of interest to others!).

Q. Can we select tools from one Action Plan and use it in another Action Plan?

A. You should feel free to mix and match tools from any part of the Assistance Kit to meet your needs for implementing actions. We have simply tried to organize and categorize information and tools by Action Plan.

Q. The tools identified in Let's Go! will probably need to be updated to reflect new ideas, policies, regulatory techniques and financial sources. Do you plan to regularly update and enhance the tools in the Assistance Kit?

A. EPA Region III will update the information frequently in the first year as we gather feedback from users and our community-based partners. In subsequent years, we will conduct a comprehensive review and revision twice yearly.

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