Soft Path to Water-Centric Sustainability: Conversations with Elected Officials


We Can Create Our Future!

The Building SustainAble Communities conference provided a timely opportunity for the Green Infrastructure Partnership and BCWWA Water Sustainability Committee to provide a progress report on what is being learned through one-on-one conversations with an ‘ad hoc mayors and chairs focus group’ that has representation from three regions.Interviews are being conducted by Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia.

“Elected officials are being bombarded with information on any number of issues. In having one-on-one conversations about green infrastructure, my objective was to see the world through the eyes of elected officials. That is an important first step in figuring out how to translate technical information into a form that elected officials can readily absorb so that they can make informed decisions,” stated Kim Stephens.

Conversation Template

To ensure a consistent approach to the one-on-one conversations, Kim Stephens developed what he called a Conversation Template.

“My approach is based on listening to them rather than talking at them,” explained Stephens, “Before we can write a Communication Guide, we need to understand what elected officials already know plus what they would like to know about green infrastructure. Only then can we judge what level of information transfer will be useful to them. The interviews are yielding insights that will help us determine how we can be clear and compelling in conveying key messages in the proposed Communication Guide.”

The starting point for interviews is the premise that we can create our future, and the decisions that elected officials make ripple through time. Stephens points out that those decisions can result in either cumulative impacts or cumulative benefits.

“In recent decades, communities have typically been experiencing cumulative impacts. The desire to mitigate those impacts has provided the driver for the green infrastructure movement across North America and elsewhere. Looking ahead, the challenge is to make informed choices that produce cumulative benefits and thereby ensure community livability,” said Stephens.

To Learn More:

To read the complete story posted elsewhere on the Waterbucket about the presentation by Kim Stephens at the Kelowna conference, click on Soft Path to Water-Centric Sustainability: Conversations with Elected Officials

To download a copy of the slide presentation by Kim Stephens, click on this link to Soft Path to Water-Centric Sustainability: Conversations with Elected Officials.

To download a copy of the September 2006  progress report that synthesizes the conversations with the focus group, click on Water – Choosing Sustainability for Life & Livelihoods: Convening for Action in British Columbia .

To download a PDF copy of the Conversation Template, click here or on the image below.