And that water has to go somewhere. Drainage routes are not typically something people think about. Until they’re blocked and an area floods, affecting residents and businesses. Then people think and talk about a drainage route a lot, and they need someone to fix it. That was the situation in Seattle’s Madison Valley, where the natural drainage route was blocked in the early 1900s. The system built to fix that problem was inadequate, resulting in substantial surface flooding and, even worse, sewer backup events. The situation worsened dramatically when a fatality occurred during an extreme storm event.
EnviroIssues joined the project team, providing strategic communications and public involvement support during design and construction. Before we began outreach, EnviroIssues conducted a community assessment to determine what could be done to stem the tide of misinformation, and to provide accurate information easily and quickly to a community that was understandably angry and energized.
We then developed and implemented engagement strategies for public and agency stakeholders, collaborating with local elected officials, agencies, businesses, and community representatives. We saved money and time – and improved outreach effectiveness – by substituting poorly-attended public meetings with drop-in sessions at local restaurants and coffee shops, making it easy for community members and business owners to get information and give input during their daily routines. And we hosted kid- and pet-friendly potlucks and gatherings instead of traditional construction information meetings, providing opportunities for the community to learn about the project and build relationships with project staff.
The result? A better-informed community, positively engaged in a necessary project that is now protecting the homes and businesses in the valley.