Getting Positive Projects Results — Tips from Community Activists
- In seeking help and support for your project, cast your net widely around the neighborhood and your community of friends and affiliates… you never know where the diversity of talent will come from to complete your project.
- Don’t be bashful about inviting, and actually asking, others to assist. Enlisting help is often the best way to “find” volunteers.
- Keep the neighborhood and local community informed about your plans from the beginning. People have less tendency to get polarized around issues if they have prior notice, and feel that you’re taking their concerns, hopes, and fears seriously.
- Research to learn about others who may already be working on similar projects in your area. Is part or all of your project in their plans? Think about territoriality– yours and theirs. Meet with them to share about pitfalls and successes, etc. and to find out where you can help or partner.
- Most conflicts are between “good” causes. Be prepared to incorporate others’ goals, broaden your ideas and purpose, compromise, and pick your way through more regulations and requirements than you dreamed.
- Always be respectful to government officials or staff. They’ll be grateful, as they’re often the recipients of much criticism and hostility. And since most of us are truly doing our best… thank everyone for everything along the way.
- Prioritize both the projects you take on, and the steps you take, based on what’s most broadly supported, most needed, and by taking into consideration what the group is willing to do at the moment.
- A “perfect plan” and “just getting it done” are two opposite poles. A “good plan” today, is often better than a “perfect plan” tomorrow.
- Be prepared for lots of process. To paraphrase Woody Allen, nine-tenths of success is just showing up at the meetings. And sometimes… the one who attends the most meetings wins.
- Just get started. Accomplish something small that demonstrates you’re on the way. With each small step you take, your committed action attracts support.
- Have two projects– one long-term and uncertain, the other short-term and likely to succeed. Success builds on success.
- When a project will take years to realize… re-focalize energy and demonstrate your project’s momentum by having visible milestones planned en-route. For example: plant something, install something, and have regular newsletter or web updates.
- Projects move much more easily as you develop a broad network of alliances, contacts, partners, and a track record. A good way to do this is by helping others with related efforts.
- Expect things to take much more time and effort than you expect to expect.
- Be realistic about the future. Ask yourself: What is success? When you move on, what will be needed to keep it going? How will the project be maintained?