As you probably know, streets.mn is the work of many people–from the dozens of active writers featured on the site, to the hundreds of commenters who contribute their perspective and insight to the topics covered, to the thousands of readers who visit the site for useful information and ideas about our built environment, and who sometimes share what they find here through social media or in conversation with friends, elected officials or city staff.
Another group of people who play an important role in the life of streets.mn is the organization’s Board of Directors and the members of the committees who carry out the day-to-day work of streets.mn.
I am one of street.mn’s board members. One reason for writing this post is to share some information regarding the work of the board and to provide an overview of some of the next steps for the organization.
And the other, more exciting reason is to invite you to consider joining us as an active member of the committees (or Board of Directors) to help achieve streets.mn’s vision.
First, Some Background
We have been active as an organization since 2012. Since our founding, the members of the Board of Directors have met every three months or so to address immediate issues and to plan activities and priorities for the next few months. Overall, this approach has worked pretty well to get us to where we are now. But as the number of our authors, readers, and our impact and needs have continued to grow, it became clear that we needed to take a broader view of our trajectory and goals.
To accomplish that, in December 2015 we met with a skilled facilitator from the Center for Policy, Planning, and Performance to hold a Strategic Planning session to envision the future of the organization and develop a plan for getting there.
The session was very productive, and helped us to clarify and prioritize next steps for our work.
In January of this year we met again to confirm our strategic direction and begin to implement the initiatives we identified.
Among the broad goals we identified for the organization over the next four years are:
- Expand the reach of the conversation about land use and transportation–by encouraging different types of writing and idea-sharing, coming from different voices and experiences from throughout the metro region and the state
- Provide content that is useful and accessible for people with different levels of technical knowledge–for everyone from policymakers to planners, community leaders, and people who are new to these conversations but who want to contribute to and learn about land use and transportation decisions affecting their neighborhoods and communities
- Work intentionally to expand participation and engagement to more closely mirror the variety of voices, locations, stories, and perspectives about land use and transportation in our state
These goals are broad and ambitious. We broke them into short-, medium- and longer-term priorities so we could focus and begin work for implementation.
The main short-term (6 months to one year) priorities we are working to address include:
- Hire an editor / volunteer coordinator to support committees and manage consistent high quality content for the website (cost: approximately $30,000 per year)
- Redesign / reengineer the website to make it easier for more people to more quickly find the content they want at the level of technical depth they need – while also integrating databases for the forums, and for managing all member and contact resources (including writers, members, volunteers and donors) into a single platform (cost: approximately $40,000)
- Expand video / audio production capability to diversify the type of content available on the site (cost: approximately $10,000)
- Increase the number, quality, and geographic spread of events organized or sponsored by streets.mn so the organization can connect with and more closely reflect the Minnesota-wide intent that is part of our name (cost: unsure, but may be self-sustaining)
As you can see, achieving our short-term priorities will entail significant costs. So we are beginning a fundraising effort that will require a lot of time and energy from the current board–and from readers, volunteers, committee members and new board members. Which brings us back to the exciting second reason that I listed at the beginning of this post.
We Need Your Help!
We are going to need your help to grow and expand streets.mn’s voice and contributions toward better land use and transportation conversations in our state. Luckily, there are many ways to contribute. You can help by:
- Volunteering for a committee and helping to organize events, or helping to moderate comments, or serving as part of the editorial team
- Adding your voice and perspective to the conversation by contributing as a writer, or as a storyteller, or video-maker, or presenter
- Joining our fundraising committee and helping us to sustainably fund the initiatives listed above
- Connecting us with your networks and helping spread the word about streets.mn’s goals, vision and mission
- Placing your name for consideration for the Board of Directors
- Donating funds or services that can help streets.mn meet its goals
This is a new and exciting time for our organization. We intend to be more active about expanding participation in the day-to-day work of streets.mn and are committed to intentionally building opportunities for everyone–from casual readers to weekly writers and current members to be active partners in the development and success of streets.mn. We will, over the next few weeks, follow up with ways to sign up and join these efforts.