Sewer systems are the sort of thing we all take for granted…until we can’t. And boy, can they force you to pay attention! The Broadview neighborhood in Seattle has had more than their share of having to pay attention, with sewer overflows reported in homes, maintenance hole overflows in the streets, sewer overflows in nearby Carkeek Park, and residential flooding over the past several years.
The community’s patience understandably began to wane as Seattle Public Utilities worked to resolve the issue. Because there wasn’t a single culprit to blame for the overflows, the utility had to take a multi-pronged approach to the problem, which necessitated studies and modeling and took time.
EnviroIssues jumped into provide strategic meeting planning and facilitation for a public meeting that SPU felt would be contentious at best. Over 100 members of the community attended the meeting. As the facilitator, EnviroIssues convened the meeting, established and managed the meeting agenda and framework, and provided moderation of the open panel discussion where agency staff was available to answer any and all questions.
Our facilitation resulted in a productive meeting, with a robust panel discussion and a helpful Q&A session that let residents voice concerns and SPU staff members provide information about why – or why not— the agency was making certain choices. And the meeting served another purpose: it restarted the dialogue between the community and the utility, and started the long process of rebuilding trust in SPU.
The meeting was so successful, SPU asked EnviroIssues to conduct a training session that highlighted the techniques we used to facilitate a contentious meeting and ensure healthy dialogue. Nice work!