Building Confidence In City Government
- Lead by example to implement priority recommendations in this plan.
- Assure ongoing resident engagement in plan implementation and refinement over time.
- Build confidence in city government.
Throughout the course of the Strong, Healthy, and Just (SHJ) community engagement process, it became clear that while the residents of Springfield have a strong desire to see the City take action on climate change and community resilience. However, based on previous personal experiences with City government, many of these residents lack the confidence in the City to follow through.
In order to rebuild trust with its residents, the City of Springfield intends to enhance its community engagement and outreach efforts, including communicating and celebrating its successes—which may, in the past, have been underpublicized. Many residents who engaged in the SHJ planning process used the Rebuild Springfield as an example of a successful planning process, citing the massive outreach efforts used to garner citywide input.
The City does not plan to rely on public outreach alone to rebuild trust with residents. The SHJ planning process identified many “low hanging fruit” actions—that is, actions to which the City has already committed or on which the City has already begun to work. Confidence in the City could be significantly enhanced if the City were to accomplish some of these “low hanging fruit” strategies, and to publicize its efforts. Strategies to build public confidence in the City of Springfield are listed below.
- Conduct an analysis of the status of the City’s recent core plans’ climate action and resilience recommendations and recommit to their implementation with a public timeline—especially those areas of previous plans that are identified as Best Practices from this planning process.
- Do a better job publicizing the City’s ongoing Climate Action & Resilience work. This strategy does not solely pertain to strategies identified in SHJ, but also to the work catalyzed by the 2016 National Disaster Resilience (NDR) award in the Urban Watershed Resilience area of neighborhoods dominated by economically disadvantaged communities of color.
- Highlight the workforce development underway that is hiring un/under employed Springfield residents to perform climate action resilience work supported by NDR and other funds.
- Maintain the Resilient Springfield dashboard (resilientspringfield.org) d as a transparent means of engaging and communicating with residents regarding implementation of the SHJ plan, and of celebrating successes.
- Formally involve the Springfield business community and anchor institutions in plan implementation. Consider creating a Commission (modeled after Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission) charged with ensuring their active engagement in the implementation of this plan.
- Work with Springfield’s business and academic/research community to create implementation wedges and interim goals to clarify which actions will contribute to the percentages of GHG emissions reductions required.
- Continue to convene the City Committee (created by Mayor Sarno to secure NDR funds) and charge the committee to oversee the implementation of this plan. The committee should appoint a lead from each municipal department to oversee the strategies related to their respective areas of influence. Consider including members of the SHJ plan development working group, as well as community, business, and youth representatives. Consider allocating funds for stipends for vulnerable community members to serve on committee, including at least one youth position.
- Launch a SHJ mini-grant implementation project fund for small groups of residents to participate in plan implementation
- Join the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda and consider joining comparable initiatives moving forward to ensure Springfield’s active participation in cutting-edge climate action and resilience communities of practice.
- Work with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA), and other federal, state, regional, and local entities to identify and secure funding for a new or revised City staff position charged with working with the SHJ implementation committee and the various city departments involved to facilitate implementation of this plan.
- Research a best practice model of a city that is committed to community engagement, and that has a plan for collaborating with community leaders, both official and unofficial, in strategic engagement.
- Work with utilities, the Commonwealth, local foundations, and others as appropriate to create a program for homeowners and renters who have a MassSave Home Energy Assessment (HEA), and who have implemented maximum recommended home energy efficiency improvements, to receive a no- or low-cost super energy efficient air conditioner. These partners should also work to improve access to homeowner’s and renter’s property insurance.
- Continue to break down silos within the Springfield city government and build capacity, both in the City government and in the community, to implement the SHJ and build community engagement into plan implementation.