Brainstorming action ideas may be the most fun part of a community sustainability planning process. But how do you get people’s attention and time to provide their creativity, and how do you capture their ideas? Here’s what the City of Lacombe did: along with an on-line survey, email opportunities, workshops and focus groups, the City gathered input from hundreds of citizens through fun and attractive postcards and idea walls.
The City developed an attractive postcard that asked three questions:
1. What do you value most about Lacombe?
2. What changes would you like to see?
3. How can we all help to make it happen?
The postcards were distributed to all three schools in the community and through City Hall, major employers and volunteer committee members. Close to 800 completed postcards were returned, with over 1000 ideas for actions submitted.
A wall-size poster, called an ‘Ideas Wall’ was developed and placed in Lacombe’s three schools and in the hall of the Lacombe Memorial Centre (LMC). Everyone was invited to write, doodle or draw their ideas about Lacombe using the same three questions in the postcard. The poster was very popular and was quickly filled with comments from students, their parents, teachers and people walking through the LMC.
Providing various avenues for people to come up with ideas for actions will undoubtedly generate a myriad of fantastic actions; the next step is to review and prioritize the actions against a set of criteria so the ones selected for implementation will be the most effective in moving the community towards its vision. In Lacombe, this prioritization step will be the work of the CSAT – the Community Sustainability Action Team. They will review all of the actions, which will be sorted by theme, and in addition to prioritizing them, they will also ensure that the actions: are clear; will contribute to the desired outcomes; and have an organization assigned to lead implementation.
So, when you’re ready for action planning, make sure you provide lots of fun opportunities for the public to provide input! People will enjoy getting involved and you will be pleasantly surprised at the ideas that come up!
Are you looking for some creative ways to engage your community in action planning? We are here to help.
By Cheeying Ho