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Keys to Garnering Public Support with Outreach Materials: The Kansas City Region

http://youtu.be/Hy9RYQzWEI4

Exciting, engaging, motivating, and heartfelt:  The keys to garnering public support for Green Infrastructure 

Garnering support from the public and affected stakeholders when planning and implementing a green infrastructure project is often the key to the success of such a project.  Therefore, engaging and effective outreach materials are crucial.  The Kansas City Region’s MetroGreen and Natural Resources Inventory projects provide good examples of materials used to outreach to both the general public and stakeholders.   Furthermore, the involvement and oversight of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), which is a non-profit association of city and county governments and a metropolitan planning organization, promotes regional cooperation and helps the bi-state Kansas City region to develop innovative solutions for their Green Infrastructure and MetroGreen projects.  Organizations such as this go a long way to increasing involvement by stakeholders and the general public.

Several publications describing the Kansas City Region’s Green Infrastructure projects were produced by different groups.  In 2005 MARC produced a short 3-page document entitled “Kansas City Region – Green Infrastructure:  Designing with Nature” which clearly and succinctly provides the reader with an overview of the need for green infrastructure and some ways that it could be implemented.   This document is well suited for those with limited time wanting to understand the big picture without the need to know all the details.  MARC also produced a document entitled “On the Map: Conservation Planning for the Kansas City Region.”  Again, this well-written, easy to understand document quickly engages the reader while providing just the right amount of detail, pictures, figures and maps so that the lay person can truly understand and envision what green infrastructure is and how it can be implemented in their neighborhood, community, and region.  Similarly the Conservation Fund (2009) provided a case study of the Kansas City Green Infrastructure project that went a step further by describing how GI principles could be applied and clearly articulated the benefits and challenges.

Regarding electronic outreach, MARC’s Environmental Programs website has a comprehensive, interesting introductory video (http://www.marc.org/metrogreen/Resources/video.aspx). However, while MARC’s website provides a wealth of information, it is not as visually pleasing or engaging as one would like. It doesn’t entice the viewer to get outside and enjoy all that Kansas City has to offer nor does it provide many concrete ideas of “what you can do” to get involved.  A more personal, heartfelt touch offered by different stakeholders in the community along with inspiring, uplifting music and additional beautiful images would go a long way in helping to propel the reader into action.

Overall, in order to be effective, public outreach efforts looking to increase public support should be clear, concise, easy to understand, inspiring, interesting, exciting, engaging, motivating and heartfelt.

The Conservation Fund.  2009.  “Kansas City Green Infrastructure Case Study.”  Green Infrastructure – Linking Lands for Nature and People.

Mid-American Regional Council.  2005.  “On the Map:  Conservation Planning for the Kansas City Region.”

Mid-American Regional Council.  2005.  “Kansas City Region – Green Infrastructure:  Designing with Nature.”

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