Thanks for participating in our ULI Urban Marketplace roundtable "Reach Out. Get in Front. Get it Built - Community Outreach for Better Projects". BIG THANKS to my co-moderator Alicia Bartley for tag teaming this topic with me and to ULI Los Angeles for having us.
As promised, here is your "Road Map to Working with Community Organizations", I hope it serves you well as a reminder on how to navigate your way through proactive community outreach in a way that saves you time, trouble and resources in the long run!
Hopefully some of these tips for what to expect can make it a little less unpredictable.
Here are some of the case studies we covered:
Earlier this month, Consensus Inc. organized a trip to Cuba which was a unique opportunity for all of those who particpated. Kathy Cripps, president of the Council of Public Relations Firms was one of those who attended. Here she writes about the trip, what she learned, and what she took away from this extraordinary experience.
"Communications professionals are an open-minded, engaged, and informed bunch. Most of us read a lot and make it our business to stay in touch with emerging trends. In our daily lives, we like to expose ourselves to different ideas, cultures, and ways of doing things. Still, what we might not always appreciate is how useful it is to immerse ourselves deeply in a culture different from our own.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Havana, Cuba for a long weekend. The adventure was organized by Consensus, Inc, one of the Council’s member firms, and was led by their CEO Josh Gertler and Cuba expert Kirby Jones, Strategic Counselor with Consensus. Jones has traveled regularly to Cuba for the last 37 years, has consulted with dozens of U.S. firms and organizations, has conducted several television and print interviews with Fidel Castro, and has written extensively about Cuba."
I first discovered TED Talks on a trip to Napa Valley. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design; if you don’t know about it, I strongly suggest you take a tour of the website . As we drove through Big Sur, we got to listen to several hours’ worth of ‘talks’ over the course of our journey. Each TED Talk reveals a facet of the speaker’s journey, trials and tribulations in their own words, their stories.
My fascination with the program and a recurring theme here at Consensus, is the stories we all possess and how they inform our lives and the lives of others. Actually, one of the most exciting and encouraging conversations I had when interviewing for this position was talking about story telling with Josh Gertler, our fearless leader and President of Consensus, Inc .
In that vein, I recently watched Dr. Brene’ Brown’s TED Talks after having read about her in a popular women’s magazine. In addition to being an author, Dr. Brown is a social-work research professor at the University of Houston, and has spent over a decade studying shame and vulnerability. Dr. Brown adroitly notes that the name of the program should be TED Talks Failure. Pointing out that everyone that gets up to give their 20 minute discourse has one thing in common and one thing to share; failure.
She tells an amazing story which resonated with me because her research to find the tangible, leads her to the intangibles that cultivate joy, encourage innovation and foster creativity. Her search for measurable, quantitative data produced a vocabulary for finding a happy and fulfilling life; only to discover that she herself was failing in the process. She spent the next several years in a search for her own happiness, I won’t ruin the end.
As I reflect on my first (almost) six months, I look at the faces around me and I am constantly reminded that each and every one of them is a story. Every client and stakeholder is a story; and they deserve to be told. How great to be surrounded by people that want to tell the stories of their clients and co-workers. Each story we tell influences our process and each story encourages growth throughout the communities in which we work. Stories continue to change and evolve as time informs them and I believe that Consensus Inc. will maintain the value and power every story holds.
It’s been a big month for transportation and infrastructure investment in Los Angeles! Major projects at LAX and the Port of Los Angeles received approval and efforts to get Angelenos out of their cars benefitted from significant progress on rail transit and bicycling initiatives.
1. LAX SPAS
The Los Angeles City Council recently approved a $4.76 billion modernization plan for LAX, including moving the northern runway, terminal additions, a consolidated car rental facility, an elevated people mover and a transportation center with links to light-rail service. On May 14, City Council approved additional technical amendments to the LAX Specific Plan. According to the Los Angeles Times, “labor leaders, prominent businesspeople and civic groups, heralded the decision as a significant step that will boost the sluggish local economy and further transform LAX.”
2. Southern California International Gateway (SCIG)
After nearly eight years of review and environmental analysis, the Los Angeles City Council last week approved BNSF Railway’s proposed SCIG project, which will allow cargo arriving at the Port of Los Angeles to be transferred onto rail within a few miles of the ports, improving air quality, reducing truck traffic on local highways and creating thousands of construction and permanent jobs. At the same time, SCIG will support California’s international trade industry, which accounts for more than a million jobs statewide. As a Los Angeles Times editorial noted, “this project will produce badly needed jobs and a cleaner environment.”
3. Expo Line Phase 1
The Expo Line celebrated the first anniversary of the opening of Phase 1 with ridership levels that have nearly reached 2020 projections with more than 25,000 average weekday boardings! USC football fans, students on school field trips and commuters are discovering their city and enjoying traveling by rail.
Photo by Elizabeth Daniels
4. Expo Line Phase 2
Construction of Phase 2, which will bring rail back to Santa Monica for the first time in 50 years, is well underway, with major progress on the bridge structures throughout the alignment and track starting to be installed this summer. The City of Los Angeles also launched the environmental process for development around the existing Culver City station and the four planned stations in Los Angeles. Public workshops are scheduled for May 30 and June 1 to gather feedback on land use and streetscape concepts.
5. Bicycling in L.A.
The old saying was, “nobody walks in L.A.” But they’re certainly bicycling! This is Bike Week, with activities ranging from the blessing of the bikes to “Bike to Work Day.” It continues into the weekend with “Bike Local Weekend,” with local businesses offering discounts to those who arrive by bike. CicLAvia celebrated a successful Bike to the Sea last month and is already planning for the Iconic Wilshire Boulevard ride next month.
Metro's Dave Sotero, in yellow jersey, leads cyclists departing Union Station during the 2011 Bike Week L.A. The series of events is meant to encourage people to ride their bikes more. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / May 18, 2011)