by Christopher Dunne
Mother Nature doesn’t care about your community outreach.
That’s the impression we’ve gotten this spring from our public engagement efforts around Reimagine RTS, Monroe County’s transit system redesign planning process. One of Highland Planning’s core principles is “go to them” and for this phase of the project, that ideal has manifested itself in a series of outdoor pop-up events aimed at spreading the word about the project’s draft recommendations as well as gathering community input to refine those recommendations.
The day of the draft recommendations’ public release, we were out at Irondequoit Plaza, where several RTS bus lines currently connect. It was immediately apparent that the wind would blow away our posters, banners and paper handouts if we didn’t batten down the hatches. Fortunately, the bus stop offered some shelter from the storm:
If you’re doing public engagement in the great outdoors:
1. Be prepared to improvise.
There aren’t too many similarities between jazz and public engagement but when the wind is howling and the rain’s coming down, you need to be ready to get creative.
2. Keep your survival kit handy.
Bungee cords, tape, jugs of water, whatever it takes.
3. Your stakeholders will thank you.
Not everyone can make a public meeting or will remember to check out your online survey but when they get the chance to have a one-on-one conversation out in the community, more often than not they’ll appreciate your efforts. Even if your tent’s a little worse for the wear.