Occassional thoughts about orienteering
Monday, June 08, 2009
Some thoughts on land access issuesLand access issues have come up in a couple of recent Attackpoint discussions. A park in Kentucky and state parks in California have been considered for closure to close budget gaps. I thought I'd write a few "tips" for dealing with governments in this sort of issue.
My suggestion would be to start with a mid-level management person. They probably won't have the authority to, for example, open a park that would otherwise be closed. But, they are a good starting point. They can help you understand the situation and deal with other involved parties.
1. Ask questions to understand the situation. You probably learn about a potential land access issue through a news story or a comment from someone who works in the park. You're not getting the whole picture. That's just the nature of communication. Start by learning more about the situation. Get a meeting with someone in the government, tell them what you read in the paper (or heard), tell them you like the park, ask them to help you understand the situation. The idea is to learn what is going on and start building a relationship.
2. Try to speak with a person, ideally in person, but over the phone is ok. Sending email and letters is easy. But, it isn't going to be as effective.
3. Recognize the difficulty in making budget decisions. Governments aren't looking to close parks because they don't like you. They are faced with difficult trade offs. Money that goes to parks might be competing with child care, police and fire, replacing decaying bridges, etc. These are really difficult decisions. Recognize that the decisions are complex. It is tempting to come up with an alternative to close a budget gap, but it is really difficult because government budgets can be complicated.
4. Don't assume ulterior motives. Assuming motives, especially if you go on the record about those motives, isn't usually productive.
5. Communicate concisely, especially with elected officials and top management. Whoever you are dealing with probably has a lot to get done. Keep that in mind. Once you've built up a relationship, you can expect a bit more of their time. Imagine how much email and other correspondence an elected official must get. Now double it. Now double it again. Now you've probably got a reasonable idea of how much elected officials are expected to read and digest.
6. Build relationships - good relationships - in advance. When you use a park, take the time to thank the people who work there. Thank everyone you can. Thank the maintenance crews. Thank their supervisors. Thank the park director. Thank the park director's boss.
7. Don't threaten legal action unless you intend to pursue it.
I could go on...but I think it is time to make dinner.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com. posted by Michael | 7:13 PM
Comments: Post a Comment