Establish Regular Meetings
The creation of a regularly-scheduled meeting schedule will establish continuity and momentum for the Friends of the Malden River. Due to the multi-jurisdictional nature of the Malden River, meeting locations should alternate between the communities of Everett, Malden and Medford.
In the literature, Vasseur suggests the value in the organization of a site visit to view the environmental issue at hand. For the Malden River, this could present an opportunity for citizens that may not be familiar with all aspects of the site. Indeed, much of the Malden River has limited public access, so the organization of a site visit could be critical to viewing the entire river. The site visit also provides a chance to promote group interaction and participation, and allows members to learn more about the technical aspects of the site (Vasseur, Lafrance and Ansseau 1997, 363). The WSSS Team has made several visits to the Malden River. A tour of the Malden River from the City of Everett Police boat operated by Officer Patrick Johnson was noteworthy. Future advocacy groups will likely be able to contact Officer Johnson to coordinate a tour of the river.
Encourage Coordination with MyRWA in Malden River Sampling
Currently, MyRWA conducts periodic water sampling activities on the Malden River. A method for strengthening involvement in the Friends of the Malden River would be to encourage participants to volunteer as water samplers. Since the water sampling program is already underway, this would be a simple means of improving participation.
Website Including: Photo Contest, Facebook Page, and Calendar
One of the tools used by the EPA to encourage public participation is the publishing of their data on the internet (Sexton, Marcus and Easter 1999). Although some individuals may not have access to the internet or may not be familiar with the use of computers, providing data online is a critical first step in the promotion of public participation.
The WSSS Team recommends the internet as a foundation for the Friends of the Malden River to connect. We hope that this is a solution to the fact that many of the interested residents have full time jobs and cannot always commit to meeting in person. The WSSS Team has developed a starting point from which this can occur. The following recommendations will be featured on the website that will hopefully aid in further engagement of interested residents around the Malden.
The Malden River website (www.maldenriver.wordpress.org) includes a photo gallery page. This page hosts a variety of pictures from different organizations and residents. Our hope is that this website will also be utilized to promote a photo contest. Inspired residents will venture to the Malden seeking the perfect picture and then upload it to the photo gallery. Website viewers will then have the chance to vote on their favorite picture. Having this feature not only inspires people to head to the Malden, but also generates activity around the website, which is a key outlet for other information dissemination and education.
We recommend that a Facebook page be developed for the Friends of the Malden River. Key players we have worked closely with on this project, such as MyRWA, have Facebook pages. This would allow friends of MyRWA to see the Friends of the Malden River page and potentially generate interest. One of the biggest barriers to the revitalization of the Malden River is the lack of awareness.
Finally, the WSSS Team has incorporated a calendar into the website. This calendar notes upcoming public meetings, as well as any other activity occurring on the Malden River. For example, the “Moose on the Malden” regatta, which is an annual event that hosts approximately ten high school rowing teams from all around New England, could be included in the calendar. We hope that this calendar helps to attract residents to various events and public meetings, and increases knowledge, appreciation and education of the Malden River.
The WSSS Team recommends that the Friends of the Malden River conduct a power mapping exercise as an early step in the organization of their campaign to re-envision the future of the Malden River. The objective of an exercise like power mapping is to establish the context and atmosphere in which they will be operating. Identifying allies, opponents, constituencies, and goals in this visual way will aid the development of a strong strategy and provide a framework on which to base the campaign.
The following is a recommendation for the process of power mapping that is based on the model developed by James Whelan at thechangeagency.org:
The group should call a meeting together focused on power mapping as a workshop, inviting all interested members and leadership of the group. The group should be split into smaller teams of two or three people to discuss the campaign; what are the aims and what is the group trying to achieve (e.g. better public access along the river, park space, clean swimmable water). In these small groups each person should describe to the others what they believe the focus of the campaign should be and define it in terms of achievable objectives.
Once each small group has finished sharing their ideas, the larger group should reconvene to reach a consensus on a clearly articulated goal for the campaign. With this goal in mind, the group should determine the names of organizations and people who they may want to engage or be aware of. The list should begin with the Friends of the Malden River and primary decision-makers who will influence the desired outcome of the campaign. Each name or organization should be written on a small index card to be used on the power map.
The power map (template provided) is a simple matrix with two axes. The horizontal is a continuum of support from strong opposition to strong support for the objectives. The vertical is a continuum of influence from little influence to full decision-making power. Using this “map” the group can then decide where each name or organization listed on a card should land in relation to their level of support and influence. As each card is placed, the group should debate the reasons for placing them in such a position on the map and what type of relationship the group has to the organization.
When the group feels each card has been placed in an appropriate position on the map a discussion should begin about where the Friends of the Malden River can make the biggest impact. This will encourage a discussion of capacity, commitment, resources, and timelines for the group. Visualizing the orientation each organization and name has to one another can also illuminate connections that may otherwise be overlooked and can further shape the development of a strategy.
At subsequent meetings, the Friends of the Malden River can reevaluate their power map, and assess and react to changes or new information.
Charrette planning is a multi-step, collaborative process that seeks to combine input from many different stakeholders in a community. This process generally begins with a community visioning session, where residents are able to voice things or ideas that they believe should be incorporated into the plan. Exercises can be planned that encourage attendees to think about what is most important to them. This visioning could be similar to the post-it note exercise that was conducted at the preliminary Everett and Malden meetings that asked residents to answer individually, “If the Malden River could be great, what would it be like?” Residents can also be encouraged to bring media, art, and/or visuals that illustrate their wants and visions. One or more plans are then created that incorporate aspects of the information that was gathered, and public comments take place on these proposals to further refine the plan. The process of revising and then opening up the plan for public comment and critique continues until a preferred plan is developed, and then action steps can begin to implement the plan. This process generally takes multiple months from the initial visioning session or sessions to the creation of a preferred plan.
Chapter 91 Jurisdiction and Certificates
The WSSS Team recommends that the Chapter 91 Parcel Map provided by the practicum team be utilized to identify parcels that are subject to Chapter 91 jurisdiction. A search of the Chapter 91 certificates associated with each parcel would be very informative in understanding which landowners are in compliance with Chapter 91 and which have remaining obligations to improve public access.