Neighborhood Engagement through Health Impact Assessments

City PlanningNancy and I were given the opportunity to approach our final pilot project a bit differently. During our project process, we developed our own vision for the possible future of OPL (Omaha Public Library) facilitation. We were aware that the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) was about to embark upon a community engagement initiative of their own because of previous FIT (Facilitator-in-Training) Team developments. Various FIT Team members sensed that facilitation could really help the health department overcome some of their challenges. Happily, our DCHD contact welcomed our unsolicited offer and was grateful for the assistance. We worked closely with Andy Wessel, DCHD’s Community Health Planner, throughout this process. The DCHD received a two-year grant to examine and experiment with their current public input processes. Since the workshop we participated in was the first step, its goal was to define desired outcomes for successful neighborhood engagement. This success definition was a collaborative effort with the meeting’s stakeholders including city planners, community leaders, developers, neighborhood alliance leaders, and architects. More

Je Ne Sais Quoi (Historic Preservation in Omaha)

Historic Preservation 2Purpose
Omaha is a city rich with character and historic architecture. Although there is a wide range of parties invested in building Omaha’s future, these stakeholders struggle to find a common vision for the city’s historic buildings. Tension from past debates and decisions has a significant impact on current discussions. We hope to lay the groundwork for deeper relationships and more positive communication on historic preservation options in the development process. An environment of communication and mutual respect will support a well-balanced vision of the city’s future that retains its unique identity. More

Where’s the Gap?: Unemployment and Education

Unemployment 3Purpose
Omaha’s unemployment rate is highest east of 72nd Street (American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate). Eight zip code areas are above the national unemployment rate of 6.7%. Many of these areas are two or even three times higher than Omaha’s unemployment rate of 4.0%. In Pilot Project Two we were able to identify education as one issue that may prevent the unemployed from obtaining employment. Pilot Project Three will focus on the role education has in employment as we work towards providing a better economy for all Omahans. More

Unexpected Benefits

Benefits 2When I signed on with the FIT Team, I really couldn’t have told you much about facilitation. Eighteen months later I’m amazed at how much intensive facilitation training has changed our team, our understanding of community engagement, and potentially our organization.  I could never have anticipated how it’s changed me both personally and professionally. More

It’s About Strategy

Facilitation SkillsI facilitated a group working on infrastructure development strategies at the Heartland 2050 morning session on July 23rd.  This was second stage work for the Vision Committee.  Small groups had identified desired regional outcomes by 2050 in the June 11th session.  Since then the project’s steering committee and consultants had drafted strategies to “seed” the work of today’s session.  This session’s goal was to identify three actionable strategies for each outcome.  Small groups would review the objectives and draft strategies; brainstorm additional strategies; and report their top three strategies per outcome to the entire room. More

It’s About Expectations

Facilitation SkillsThis was the first time I had facilitated a meeting that wasn’t an internal Omaha Public Library group or a FIT Team pilot project.  I thought the June 11th Heartland 2050 meeting would be a good opportunity to practice my facilitation skills.  I wouldn’t have to worry about details like inviting participants, planning the agenda, and other tasks. More

What Counts Gets Measured: 2013 Results

Measure 2The Omaha Public Library had 5,785 program, outreach, and community engagement events with a total attendance of 185, 231 in 2013.  The total average attendance for all events was 31.  If you break down total average attendance by audience, the results are 49 for adults, 63 for young adults and 105 for children.  If you further break down the total average attendance by event type and audience, the numbers are still smaller. More

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