Fair question. That was a lot of information that covered some pretty diverse and complex topic areas. While we want to be thorough, we don’t want to overwhelm, and we certainly don’t want to be the cause of the dreaded analysis paralysis. On the contrary, we want you to be able to readily tailor the Blueprint to your needs in a way that empowers you to act. The following tips can help guide you through identifying priorities and acting on some manageable steps based on where you’re currently at.
Start a conversation
If you’re like most cities, you’re probably still in the CHAMPIONS stage, and if you’re reading this, chances are you’re one of the champions. (Thank you!) It’s time to cast a wider net. Maybe you need to get on the same page with the transportation team. Maybe there’s a community partner that’s been eager to be part of the process, or a contractor with some big ideas. Take someone out for coffee, host a brown bag lunch, or just start asking people questions about their projects and priorities. The point is to start bringing new voices to the table. Work together to identify which voices are still missing, and how to start moving forward on shared goals.
Where are your department, agency, and city in the process of making the Five Major Shifts? Maybe you’re making progress on some but are completely stuck on others. Maybe you haven’t even started. Answer the following question to get a baseline understand of where you’re generally starting from. Which best describes your level of green infrastructure implementation?
We have no experience with GI planning or implementation.
We have completed or are starting to implement some GI demonstration projects.
We have some green infrastructure scattered about the city as part of uncoordinated public and private efforts.
We are actively prioritizing nature-based solutions in our capital planning process.
We are engaging the community and private contracting partners in an outcomes-driven capital planning process.
Now that you’ve started talking with others about this and assessed where you’re coming from, what are your greatest needs? What seems most achievable? Prioritizing is a balancing act between what needs doing and what can actually get done. Each city’s priorities will look a little bit different, especially in the beginning. If your city can commit to, say, community engagement, a code review, and taking stock of natural assets, you’ll be well on your way. Use your answer to the question above to help you get the process started with detailed guidance below.
Instructions: Use your answer from the SELF-ASSESS question to help you PRIORITIZE next steps:
IF YOU ANSWERED 1: You’ve come to the right place. Focus on the steps under ACCESSORIES → ASSETS and CHAMPIONS → SYSTEMS to help you build a strong foundation for entering the integrated infrastructure space. We recommend starting out by convening your internal stakeholders and identifying shared values, goals, and roadblocks around service delivery, and then loop in the community soon thereafter to understand what their needs and values are.
IF YOU ANSWERED 2: You’ve probably already started some of the work under ACCESSORIES → ASSETS and CHAMPIONS → SYSTEMS. Now is the time to begin taking it to the next level by capitalizing on the lessons learned from your demonstration projects to start planning out high-value portfolios. The PROJECTS → PORTFOLIOS section of the Blueprint will help you overcome common hurdles before they even crop up. But don’t neglect the work to be done under the first two shifts: community engagement, collaboration, and process improvement will make or break the best laid plans, and at this stage, they likely still need work.
IF YOU ANSWERED 3: You’re like a lot of cities, and you’ve probably already started some of the work under ACCESSORIES → ASSETS and CHAMPIONS → SYSTEMS and begun to at least think about the steps under PROJECTS → PORTFOLIOS. In order to get there from where you are, you’ll need to really dig into your data and systems and begin taking stock of your natural capital assets as you look to integrate existing assets with new ones. You’re in a bit of a messy middle zone of implementation, so you’ll need to look backward and reflect in order to get aligned and move forward. Community engagement and stakeholder alignment are still paramount for you to integrate existing and new assets into a comprehensive, fully networked portfolio of community assets. Frequently, these steps receive insufficient attention at the outset, so you may actually have to give them extra attention now to identify and untangle existing issues. It may be especially helpful to hire outside resources to effectively engage the community and assist with organizational siloing at this stage.
IF YOU ANSWERED 4: This is excellent news! You’re well on your way to getting to scale. First, conduct an honest evaluation of how actively and effectively you’ve engaged the community and contractors thus far in the process – how can you be doing more? Second, you may be now or will be soon facing significant issues around procurement, governance, and paying for your plans. The steps and resources under SERVICE DELIVERY TARGETS → COMMUNITY OUTCOMES and FUNDING → FINANCING can help. Steps like rethinking procurement, integrating agency mandates, and identifying and evaluating various finance mechanisms will be critical for you. At this point in the process, the need to invest in outside expertise and/or facilitation is likely greater.
IF YOU ANSWERED 5: Congratulations! At this point, you’re probably pretty focused on procurement and how to pay for your innovative, outcomes-based plans. The SERVICE DELIVERY TARGETS → COMMUNITY OUTCOMES section is important for you. In addition to rethinking procurement, it would be especially helpful for you to start focusing on formally integrating agency mandates at this point, so that accountability for your identified outcomes is effectively shared. And the FUNDING → FINANCING section will help you assess your payment options. This may require a legislative change, ballot measure, and/or close collaboration with your finance team and bond counsel.
Ok, you know where you’re at, where you want to go, some ways to get there, and who’s going to help you get there. But, you’re still stuck on some things. We can help. Get in touch with us at Earth Economics to discuss how we can support your work to implement the Blueprint.
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© Earth Economics 2018