Beyond Land Use: Bringing Non-Traditional Partners to the Table
Welcome!• Moderator: – Nathaniel Karns, AICP, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission• Speakers: – Nancy Stoll, Berkshire United Way – Virginia Kasinki, Glynwood Center – Amy Kacala, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission
How has the role of planner changed?• Then • Now – Physical development only – Multiple non-traditional or primary focus conversations – Used data to provide – Much more multi-faceted macro context interactions – Focused on coordination & – Key role is still coordination interrelationships at a fairly and interrelationships – simplistic level but at a much more complex and in-depth level – Much higher demand for data to be used to track results
What are some of the drivers?• Fewer resources• More emphasis on integrated/holistic approaches v. silos• Focus on metrics – Making the case/identifying the priority – Showing impact and change over time
Old tools, new applicationsTools: • Project Case Studies: Data – Early Childhood Mapping Education Strategic Planning – Local Food and Agriculture – Regional Sustainability Plan
A partnership is born • Shift to Community Impact – Goal-setting process – Data-driven issue selection – Focus on measuring community condition change over time • Partnership with Berkshire Benchmarks
Baseline Report identifies certain challenges• High poverty rate
Baseline Report identifies certain challenges• High teen pregnancy rate
Where to start?• Looking for deep, sustained change• What can we do today to create real change on all of these fronts in 10 or 20 years?
Breaking the cycle• Early childhood education – Decades of research show multiple long-term benefits • Improved school performance and educational attainment levels • Healthier adult lifestyles • Better economic outcomes • Social equity and diminishing the “achievement gap”
Data serves as a call to action• 60% of children in 3rd grade score proficient or above on MCAS • 40% of children in 3rd grade not proficient in English!
Convened a discussion of ECE Experts• Early Childhood Education Think Tank – High-risk family ECE/child care providers – Pediatric/health representatives – School district early childhood coordinators – Foundations/Funders – State ECE and special program administrators – Compact for Education (MCLA), BCC – State Readiness Center – BRPC and BUW
Developed a strategic plan• Where were they? – Lots of initiatives, some duplication – Trying to do same or more with less – Struggling to get ready for QRIS – Feeling overwhelmed!• ECETT Strategic Plan – 10 month effort using classic planning process – Set roadmap for moving forward
Meanwhile, started a new conversation with non-traditional partners• Berkshire Priorities • Brought new players to – Business Leaders the table – Foundations • More clout in appropriate – School Superintendents circles to help with: – Media – Political leaders – Employers – Etc.
Set an aspiration• 90% Proficient of Above in 3rd Grade English MCAS by 2020
Implementing as we go• Coalitions successfully initiating projects to effect change at family, city, and regional levels: – AACA/Pittsfield Promise – Reach Out and Read – Bookend County – Race to the Top Grant
Keep Farming®• Engages the entire community – including farmers - to support local agriculture.• Based on information not otherwise available.• Helps communities create land use and economic development strategies.• Builds the constituency to support long-term implementation.
The local reality• Challenges: – Agriculture not seen as “real” economic activity – Very few land use tools to protect agricultural land – Aging farmers + low/no farm profits + high land values = farms being sold• Bright Spots: – Strong “local” ethic – Berkshire Grown – existing network and advocacy – Understanding of passive value of landscape to the region’s identity and economy – New farmers looking for land
Value of a regional approach• Agriculture resources & infrastructure don’t respect town boundaries so planning for them must be done on a larger scale.• Consistent local regulations & policies make farming more efficient & economically viable.• Local communities working together have greater impact.
The approach• Work with volunteers to • Who are the volunteers? gather original data – Berkshire Grown – Quantify Supply and – Chambers of Commerce Demand (Surveys!) – Land Trusts • Restaurants – Local Foundations • Distributors – Boards of Health • Residents – Hospitals • Farmers – Western Mass Food Bank • Institutions – Colleges • Emergency Food System – Farmers (new!) – Foodies – Agricultural Commissions – Community Groups – Community garden organizers
Who are the volunteers? – Berkshire Grown – Chambers of Commerce – Land Trusts – Local Foundations – Boards of Health – Hospitals – Western Mass Food Bank – Colleges – Farmers – Foodies – Agricultural Commissions – Community Groups – Community Garden Organizers – Students
The approach• Work with farmers to understand challenges and opportunities – Farmers forum – Farm surveys (interviews) – Farm maps
Eye on implementation• Regional steering committee with potential implementation partners• Regional panel series on implementation topics• Looking for grants as trends emerge in survey results – don’t wait till the end
Pulling it all togetherREGIONAL SUSTAINABILITY PLAN
Required Elements in MA• Comprehensive Plans - Required Elements (MGL Ch41 s81d) – Goals and Policies • Land Use • Housing • Economic Development • Natural and Cultural Resources • Open Space and Recreation • Services and Facilities • Circulation / Transportation – Implementation Strategy
A change of approach• Making “sustainability” Environment meaningful requires a real focus on the often neglected third “E” Economy Equity
Regional Consortium• The “usual suspects” • New faces – Housing – Health – Economy – Social service – Environment – Diversity trainers – Municipal – Faith-based
Broader list, more integrated approach • Plan elements – Historic preservation – Conservation & recreation – Economy – Housing & neighborhoods – Energy – Transportation & mobility – Infrastructure & services – Land Use
Economic Element• Research into the “new economy” and “creative economy” shows prominent role of people and place in economic development• Approaching economy through five themes 1. Workforce and a culture of learning 2. Open, active and inclusive social community 3. Innovation-friendly business environment 4. Quality of life 5. Local and regional leadership
Social equity connections to economy emerged quickly• PK-12 environment emphasized – Workforce development (young workers) – Business and talent attraction (good schools)• Culturally competent and socially inclusive – Talent attraction and retention – Tourist-based economic activity• Health and wellness – Pedestrian-friendly environments (downtowns) – Healthy workers
Housing and Neighborhoods Element• Modeling “sustainable neighborhoods” – Data grouped into four categories: • People-friendly places and spaces • Integrated and inclusive • Safe and healthy • Ecological footprint – Goal is to be able to identify areas of strength and weakness in each context (rural, suburban, urban)
Intentionally tackling social conditions• Cultural competency training• Identifying geographies of need – Combination of conditions that make intergenerational poverty cycle more likely to continue
Getting to implementation• Housing and neighborhoods subcommittee – Implementation partners – New information for them! • Taking things from anecdotal to maps and trend lines• Important role of RPAs in this discussion – There are some facts people with “interests” want to gloss over
What we’re learning• New collaborations – Different “languages” to learn – Need to build trust – Need to be on the lookout for property lines (turf) and land mines (sensitivities – history, performance, etc)
Feeling your way through• DO: Become a partner and advocate – Invite new partners to the table as connections between topics or initiatives become clearer – Offer to help! – Share what you know or hear that can help them succeed with their initiative• DON’T: Be one-sided or insincere – Give and take (not tug of war) – Don’t “dial it in”
At a project management level• Flexibility - modified scope of work to accommodate new work – Keep Berkshires Farming – Cultural Competency• Adaptability - willingness to have conversations and consider new approaches on the fly as unforeseen issues, needs, and opportunities emerge
At the agency level• Internally, thinking in a more integrated way about the connections between our own projects• As RPA, these are lasting relationships that don’t end with a project contract/grant – Real collaborations sustained over time – Numerous cross-pollination opportunities
Final Thoughts• Started with a commitment to a result in mind – Didn’t know all the answers – Didn’t have all the resources in hand• Planner tools of data, maps, and strategic planning frameworks can make areal contribution to grassroots and social efforts