Whenever I speak about Idea Friendly, I ask people to write down their big goal or dream for their town. We make it a hashtag, because you might want to start spreading your dream online. So it looks like this: #IFourtown. So “IF” and the name of your town.
An audience member in Tennessee said that for his #IFourtown goal, he wrote down “Landfill.” There’s nothing fun about landfills. How do you make a landfill project happen in an Idea Friendly way? You can’t, can you?
Of course you can. I asked him more about the landfill situation. He said the town needs to expand their current landfill or face dire consequences of escalating costs and even threats to their town’s future. There is room next to the landfill to expand into land that is currently a park. Since the park was funded with some restricted funds, it can’t just be taken over for landfill unless it’s replaced with another park. So where should they put the new park? And how do they convince people to give up the old one?
Right now, the fight is stuck at “We have to expand the landfill or we’ll die!” vs. “You can’t take over the park for landfill!” There isn’t much discussion of what they could do instead. Sounds pretty intractable. And really, you probably can sympathize, right? You could imagine this kind of fight in your town.
Idea Friendly says Take Small Steps. Find a way for everyone to have small but meaningful participation. Where could we start with such a mess of a problem as this landfill that’s going to destroy a park people love and use?
Let’s start with one of the possible new locations for a park. We can pop-up a park in one of those other locations. Let’s have a picnic there for everyone. Let’s pop-up some possible activities, like a pop-up splash pad, or pop-up some play equipment. Here’s a pop-up park example: Bennet Village Park (it’s the second example in that link)
While we have people out at the new potential park, let’s post some drawings of what it could look like if we moved the park here. Let’s engage people in conversation about what this park could look like and what the consequences are for not expanding the landfill. Then do it again for another of the locations, then again and again to reach as many people as possible.
Each time we’re involving more people (Gathering Our Crowd), letting people talk to each other in a less combative setting (Building Connections), and we’ve given everyone a small but meaningful way to participate (Take Small Steps.)
If we can make a landfill expansion into an Idea Friendly project that strengthens our community ties rather than strains them, then we can use the Idea Friendly method on any project. Even the one in your town.
Keep shaping the future of your town,
PS – Ever wondered what we do when we visit a town? Join us for our virtual visit in our next webinar, the Embedded Community Experience