Communications - Communicating with Residents
These days private citizens are often out in front of the effort to get local governments involved with environmental issues. As a result, the emphasis for local governments is not necessarily how to get citizens involved but how to accomplish multiple environmental goals on limited budgets and manage public expectations at the same time.
We found in our research that communities fostering a sense of mutual responsibility, partnership and cooperation between government, business and citizen groups usually obtain the best results. Our sample comprehensive environmental policy provides a blueprint for municipal action on many of the important issues facing local governments today. How these goals are reached will depend in large part on citizen participation and support, which in turn requires effective communication.
It has been widely reported that concern for the future of their children is the strongest motivating factor in adults' decisions to protect the environment. Municipalities seeking to involve residents in their environmental efforts may consider focusing attention on the responsibility to protect the planet for future generations.
Who's Doing It Right
The Washington State Municipal Research and Services Center offers a wide variety of strategies for encouraging effective communication with the public. The strategies include convenient and informal meeting formats, speaker's bureaus and presentations to existing groups, reaching citizens through technology and web sites, citizen guides and brochures, newsletters, newspaper columns and flyers.