The Good Economist August 2016 - Page 5

The Good Economist 5

Cultivating such collective investment across a city as diverse as Philadelphia is no easy undertaking. However, the Office of Sustainability appears to have a strategy for success: engage early, engage often, and listen. Accessibility, proactive outreach, and robust dialogue has made this engagement process exceptionally inclusive. Greenworks 2.0 is intended to be largely shaped by the input of those outside of government, and the open house demonstrated, once again, a commitment to this goal. Sustainability staff interacted intimately with attendees, spending a gracious amount of time discussing their area of expertise, accepting feedback, and answering questions.

These best practices in government modeled by Sustainability show tremendous promise for the continued progression of the issue. Locally, a large criticism of the sustainability has been its struggles to connect with the needs and priorities of all neighborhoods. Many wondered whether the inability to cultivate a larger support base would be a ruinous, limiting factor as the challenges become even greater and the goals more ambitious. The keen intention towards inclusivity and seeking out diverse perspectives mobilizes a greater number of residents to view sustainability not as burdensome but as opportunistic. They begin to see it a framework to address other chronic issues.

Deliberate action to bridge sustainability’s long-standing disconnect extends beyond broad public engagement. The Office has prioritized evidence-based decisionmaking as a means of tailoring interventions and effective resource targeting. This requires a comprehensive understanding of how neighborhoods are currently performing, which makes this last innovation so exciting. Scheduled to follow the release of Greenworks 2.0, likely in early 2017, is a publicly-accessible data visualization tool that will display information on how neighborhoods are achieving in metrics such as tree canopy and recycling rates.

Interested in shaping the next Greenworks?

Take The Office of Sustainability's Community Survey, and have your say on the city's new sustainability goals.

Find out more here.