The Action Planning Process
The process of developing the 2008 Sustainability Action Plan for Corvallis was an inclusive, community-wide initiative involving a broad cross-section of the community. Representatives of diverse organizations collaborated to organize and implement a democratic, highly participatory, transparent public planning process focused on three town hall meetings and interim work group efforts. Hundreds of area residents were involved in this process, which was led and staffed by community volunteers who contributed thousands of person-hours to the effort.
Gathering public input and involving community members in the development of the Action Plan were crucial elements of the action planning process. A variety of promotional messages and tools, including the following, were used to create awareness and interest in the town hall meetings: Coalition website, Google group announcements, bi-weekly E-Updates (electronic newsletter), posters, mini-flyers, quarterly gatherings of Coalition partner representatives, speakers bureau presentations to various community groups, newspaper articles, public service announcements, and broadcast of the town hall meetings on local cable television.
Town Halls and Work Groups
The first Community Sustainability Town Hall meeting in March 2008 attracted over 600 participants. Since soliciting and documenting public input was an important part of this town hall meeting, the Coalition Steering Committee recruited and trained 50 discussion leaders and 50 recorders. During the meeting, discussion leaders encouraged participants to share their ideas for long-range goals and broad strategies and facilitate the generation of ideas for specific actions to help achieve those goals.
At the close of the first town hall meeting, the Coalition asked for volunteers, and more than 200 people responded by joining work groups that focused on 12 topic areas: Community Inclusion, Economic Vitality, Education, Energy, Food, Health and Human Services, Housing, Land Use, Natural Areas and Wildlife, Transportation, Waste and Recycling, and Water. These topic areas were based on categories identified in The Corvallis 2020 Vision Statement, as well as responses of participants at Town Hall 1.
Two or more facilitators were recruited to lead each work group. They attended an orientation session to receive training in facilitation and information regarding work group timelines and objectives. Work groups met between the first and second town hall meetings. Their first tasks were to review the vision statements from Corvallis 2020 and to select long-range, visionary goals for their topic areas. In addition, they reviewed the sustainability efforts already being pursued by different groups in the Corvallis community, as well as initiatives and programs in other communities.
The second town hall meeting in June 2008 was attended by approximately 350 community members. Work groups shared their proposed goal with town hall participants and solicited input to determine whether their work groups were moving in the right direction. Town hall participants also brainstormed actions and indicated those they might be willing to commit to carrying out.
Work groups continued to meet between the second and third town hall meetings. Based on input from Town Hall 2, they revised their goals and began the process of selecting actions to meet those goals. Each work group was asked to develop no more than three goals and to determine how each goal woul be measured. Where possible, work group members gathered baseline metrics. For each goal, they selected up to three strategies and for each strategy, three actions. The work groups also reviewed related efforts currently under way in the community and acknowledged those efforts in their recommendations. Timeframes (0-2 years, 3-5 years, or 6-10 years) were designated for each action, and potential key organizations were listed next to each action.
The third town hall meeting in October 2008 was attended by approximately 400 people. The purpose was two-fold: to present the work group proposals and to engage attendees in committing to action. Upon entering the town hall meeting, each participant received a comprehensive reference guide listing the goals, strategies and actions that had been developed for the 12 topic areas.
Electronic keypad polling was utilized to introduce participants to the topic area goals, gather some demographic information and to register participants’ opinions regarding which goals from each topic area should be addressed first by the community. During the second part of the meeting, participants were given an opportunity to consider what actions they would commit to at home or work, as well as which topic areas they would like to work on as members of action teams.
The Action Plan was revised in 2012-13, using a process developed by the Coalition Steering Committee. Action Teams conducted an initial review and submitted recommended changes to the public for their feedback and input through a series of “Community Conversations”. The Action Teams used the public input to develop the revised document, titled Community Sustainability: A Framework for Action. The Framework was published in 2013 and can be downloaded here: