Cable car tracks in San Francisco, CA. Image by Prayitno, via Flickr.
Last week in Oakland, CA, Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council hosted a special track for local elected and appointed officials during the Leadership Academy for Sustainable Communities. Organized by the Institute for Sustainable Communities and sponsored by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the three-day workshop emphasized implementation strategies for recently completed regional sustainability plans. One dozen communities sent teams to the event, including local leaders seeking to help their communities achieve the visions outlined in their sustainability plans.
The Local Leaders Council–hosted track focused on developing an effective policy agenda that supports regional vision, building coalitions and partnerships to help move that vision forward, and talking publically about sustainability and infrastructure issues in ways that highlight local priorities. One of the primary takeaways was the need for a big-tent approach.
“Establishing a relationship with everybody, no matter what side of the aisle they’re on, is an important step in the process,” said Commissioner Yousef Rabhi of Washtenaw County, MI. Leaders in the room agreed that working toward a joint regional vision requires going beyond partisan thinking and keeping focused on positive, relatable economic and quality-of-life goals.