Outreach & Communications Committee
The overall purpose of the committee is to communicate about activities of the Council to existing and prospective members and to draw more people in the Union Square area into our activities and operations. Due to the present COVID-19 pandemic, any meetings we hold must be of the "virtual" sort, as our recent general meetings have been. If you are not already on the mailing list for this committee, which we use for communications, please use the Contact form to indicate your interest in helping with our efforts.
Following is the draft of a proposed mission statement for the committee.
Mission and Purpose
The outreach and communications committee exists in order to
- provide useful information to members and others in the Union Square area on matters related to the development and transformation of the area now underway and that is expected to proceed over the course of the next several decades,
- conduct outreach to prospective members in order to increase our overall membership and participation in our efforts and activities,
- enable and promote communication among general members and board members with regard to activities of the Council, both at general meetings and in other ways,
- ensure that communication regarding direction and priorities received through channels we help establish is seen by board members and is addressed and acted upon in a way that is generally satisfactory to the general membership as a whole, and
- work to give practical meaning to the principles and values spoken of in our bylaws, both by means of the points listed above and in other ways we may later determine.
In order for the USNC to function effectively, it must live up to the expectations of members of the Neighborhood Council Working Group (NCWG) which through the efforts of its members brought the USNC into being in late 2017. Those expectations are embodied in the opening section of our bylaws (which were approved by the general membership by means of a vote) particularly in Section 2. In that section, we find evidence of the determination of the working group to promote certain values, which include:
We recognize our need for and reliance upon one another, given form in real community, which has the capacity to enhance and enrich our lives immeasurably.
We embrace the contributions of all community members and believe the diversity of our backgrounds inherently increases the strength and resilience of our community.
We encourage the engagement of all in making decisions that affect us.
We believe that the best decisions are reached through full access to information and open dialogue.
2.3.9: Civic Engagement
We endeavor to educate, inform, and include our neighbors in the process of their governance...
These items taken together indicate a recognition of the importance of working with one another to extend our reach to as many people in the Union Square area as possible in our overall effort to both represent them and to include whatever energies they might care to expend on behalf of their own interests and those of particular sub-groupings with which they may identify. These values also imply the necessity of becoming determined to conduct our efforts in such a way that we keep those on whose behalf the USNC operates well informed, and that of establishing and maintaining means by which the needs of all members can be effectively addressed. The statement of our values implies that communication with our membership and others must be bidirectional; we have to find ways to enable dialogue among our general membership which is both taken seriously by and used to inform decisions of our board on behalf of our membership.
Evidence of the Need
Public meetings organized by USNC, such as the one held at the Argenziano School on March 27th, 2019, have provided what appears to be fairly strong evidence that there is substantial interest among those in the Union Square area to work together to think through what we want to see happen in the area with regard to redevelopment efforts.
“Outreach” can be seen to be about doing what is required to set up good lines of communication with local citizens who stand to be affected by development. To be effective and worthwhile, “communication” must be bidirectional and must result in a sufficiently great level of satisfaction with regard to questions and concerns being properly addressed and taken into account in design and overall decision making.
As a committee, we must think through how to do outreach and how to set up and maintain good communications among members, both with one another and with regard to their interactions with board members, so that what the USNC actually does satisfies the needs of those on whose behalf it operates. Among the possible methods we can consider are informal member meetings separate from the meetings now being conducted and the use of electronic communications, both via meetings (in-person when circumstances permit, and "virtual" until that time), and via web forums.
We also need to think through how to make the web site as functional and effective as possible for purposes of information sharing and for promoting collaboration, and we need to think about how to share the work load in an equitable fashion that takes best advantage of the skills and interests of committee members. Most importantly, we must work to recruit people willing to work together actively to assist with what needs to be done, both with respect to a number of critical functions and in advising the board as to what is expected of them by the general membership.