Home   |   About   |   Best Practices   |   Join GreenStep   |   Recognition   |   All Cities   |   Ordinances   |  City log-in   |   Contact           Stay Connected
GreenStep City Best Practices Economic and Community Development

Benchmarks & Community Engagement
no. 24

Adopt outcome measures for GreenStep and other city sustainability efforts, and engage community members in ongoing education, dialogue, and campaigns.
benefits  
  • In themselves, none of these planning, measuring and reporting actions produce direct sustainability benefits. However, the experience of cities that engage community members and publicly report on progress is very powerful: this accountability drives more action faster than if city plans and activities are mostly developed and discussed by only city staff and elected officials.
  • For those conducting education and action campaigns to effect specific behavior changes, the MN Pollution Control Agency has calculated climate change benefits of about 3 dozen actions. The thorough explanation, assumptions and documentation of these actions was done as part of a climate change exhibit for the 2009 Eco Experience at the MN State Fair. The actions are specific - for example, "Eat local and organic food 20%, or 50%, or 80% of the time" - and cover specific actions under these additional topic categories:
    • Reusing consumer products.
    • Preventing junk mail, recycling, composting.
    • Decreasing use of fossil fuels and using more renewably generated energy.
    • Using less natural gas, electricity and water.
    • Decreasing car use and increasing car efficiency.
    • Buying durable goods and maintaining them.
    • Planting trees and native vegetation.
  • Education and action campaigns to effect the adoption and use of available technologies in U.S. homes and for non-business travel has the potential to cut 20% of household direct carbon emissions (7.4% of U.S. national emissions) per year by the tenth year of a program, with little or no reduction in household well-being. See Household Actions Can Provide A Behavioral Wedge To Rapidly Reduce U.S. Carbon Emissions (National Academy of Sciences: 2009).
 
Step 3 recognition minimum for category A, B and C cities
All Category A, B and C cities are recognized upon completion of action 1.

Category A cities also complete action 2 for recognition.

Category B cities also complete any one additional action for recognition.
summary
What's measured matters. Or put another way: if it matters, measure and report it. Adoption of a comprehensive set of sustainability indicators (that may have been developed as part of a sustainability plan) provides one vehicle for a city to report on accomplishment of multiple (and often interlinked) city goals, programs and projects, including GreenStep best practices and comprehensive plan goals. This transparency and accountability to community members about city sustainability work fits well with educating and engaging community members as partners in envisioning and building a more sustainable city. The point of public participation in city affairs is that by adding the value-rich perspectives of citizens to the information-rich perspectives of city staff, we can create wiser public policy.* In total, actions to implement this best practice result in:
  • A commitment to achieve specific outcome measures based upon a vision for the city, developed through community engagement.
  • Educating community members about the city vision and desired outcomes so that these become a shared vision and outcomes.
  • Engaging residents, businesses and institutions to change their practices to help meet city goals.
  • Reporting on accomplishments each year.
* from Daniel Yankelovich: The Magic of Dialogue (2001)
greenstep advisor
Philipp Muessig, GreenStep Cities Program Coordinator, MN Pollution Control Agency: 651/757-2594, philipp.muessig@state.mn.us

Sean Gosiewski, Alliance for Sustainability, for work with citizen & student groups, city commissions & faith organizations: 612/331-1099, sean@AforS.org, http://www.AforS.org

connection to state Policy

The state of Minnesota requires various specific reports from cities, which typically contain data of interest/use to community members. Extracting the most relevant data from these submittals and presenting it in a useful way is a service to community members.