By Scott Sherrill,
UNC MPA Student
As of December 8, Chapel Hill 2020 outreach efforts reached almost 300 people through face to face contact and more than 5000 people via e-mail outreach. So what does outreach look like and what impact is it having?
The answer to this question varies by group, but examples can been seen through the outreach efforts to three different groups: El Centro Hispano, the Chapel Hill Optimist Club, and Carol Woods.
The outreach for El Centro Hispano occurred in conjunction with the organization’s annual Education Fair and Yard Sale, which it holds both in Carrboro and Durham. Julio Olmos is on the Chapel Hill 2020 outreach committee, and he hosted a table at the event that provided information about the Chapel Hill 2020 process. Through this outreach, he was able to reach people who had before not heard about the project.
One concern, which is not unique to the Hispanic community, but also to the Burmese community and others, is that without interpreters available at the meetings, some non-native English speakers will not be able to understand the content of meetings. These are important voices which could be lost in translation.
Another group with which outreach has been conducted is the Optimist Club of Chapel Hill. The Optimist Club often invites speakers who interact with or have knowledge about the welfare of children (the primary focus of the Optimists) or speakers who are involved with the community. One of the speakers they invited was Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt. During his presentation, Mayor Kleinschmidt touched on the Chapel Hill 2020 process, which piqued the interest of the Optimist Club members, and they followed-up by inviting Faith Thompson, Chapel Hill Planning Department’s Community Outreach Coordinator, to present at a meeting.
Carolyn Mason, president of the Chapel Hill Optimists, says that she will likely get involved with the process, and that she suspects that other members of her group will as well.
Mary Patterson, chair of the Carol Woods community relations committee, first read about Chapel Hill 2020 in the paper and thought that her committee members would be interested in learning more. Therefore, she invited Faith Thompson to attend the committee’s November meeting to discuss the 2020 goals and process.
After the presentation, the community had mixed feelings about the process: many felt that the goals were not specific enough and were concerned that the community had already gone through a similiar process 10 years ago. But two people from the committee stated their interest in taking the lead to be involved with the process on behalf of the committee.
Overall, the outreach efforts are helping to spread the knowledge of Chapel Hill 2020, and these discussions are drawing people into the comprehensive planning process.
Would you like to schedule a speaker to attend your club or group’s next meeting or luncheon? If so, please contact Faith Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-969-5068.