Tuesday, October 06, 2009

CityWatchLA - A Significant First Step

CityWatch, Oct 6, 2009
Vol 7 Issue 82

Saturday's NC Action Summit was a tremendous success from my perspective and I learned a great deal. It was an ambitious event, literally 10 pounds of meeting packed into a five pound agenda and as the emcee, I found it to be quite a challenge to keep things on track. Ultimately, I'm proud of the organizers, the participants and of the results. The NC Action Summit set out to create a forum for neighborhood council stakeholders to take on the issues that are relevant to the community, all with "Less Talk, More Action!"

That was a worthy goal but the first thing I learned on Saturday is that the "talk" is an important part of the "action" and the trick is not to limit, but to balance. There is no way to get to action without accommodating the public's need to be heard, to clear the air, to sound off and to deliver the anecdotes, the experiences, the defining moments that stirred the passion and prompted the public to give up their Saturday to get involved. It all starts with talk and it is, for many people, the action. I've learned to respect the important role 'talk" plays in "action."

The Summit had quite an ambitious agenda and we structured a schedule that in hindsight, could have been a tad more flexible.

Some issues went quickly, some went slowly and some were quite intense and were schedule busters.

I've been to meetings where success is based on adherence to the schedule, I've been to meetings where success is based on addressing every item on the agenda and hearing from every person. The real test of the NC Action Summit's success will not be based on our schedule or our open participation, it will be based on our ability to translate the event into results and I'm very optimistic.

We worked the agenda, people participated and I've learned that the event will be judged based on the next 90 days.

The event had something for everybody and for me, I was quite pleased with the outcome for the Cyclists' Bill of Rights. Dr. Alex Thompson, member of the Bike Writers Collective, Co-founder of the BikeRoWave, and Co-author of the CBR gave a presentation and engaged in a robust interaction with the public.

For all of the focus on action, this interaction was as valuable because we were able to hear concerns, misunderstandings, fears, new ideas and great suggestions, all of which we never hear in traditional settings at City Hall, Council Committee or Departmental presentations.

The Cyclists' Bill of Rights received a 50 to 1 vote of endorsement and Thompson gave a call for action, urging the audience to get their respective neighborhood councils to call for an extension on the city's Bike Plan comment period to 90 days, currently scheduled for 42 days and closing on November 6th, effectively leaving the NC's out of the comment loop.

The proposed comment period would end on Jan 4th allowing community members to evaluate the Bike Plan, take it to committee and then the board, offering an opinion on the Bike Plan and the improvements or lack of improvements in each NC.

Jeff Jacobberger offered to assist NC's in evaluating the Bike Plan and in inventorying any proposals or projected improvements in the community and the Bike Writers Collective will send speakers to any NC with the Cyclists' Bill of Rights on their agenda for endorsement.

I'm really encouraged that the Cyclists' Bill of Rights received such a great reception from the community and I'm also encouraged to see the cycling community engaging the neighborhood councils and looking for common ground.

At the end of the day, for all of the issues and all of the discussion and all of the commitment to action, the most significant part of the day for me was the fact that I had participated in the maiden voyage of LA's Government 2.0 and that real change is on the horizon.

Saturday's NC Action Summit was the significant first step.

You can sign up to the Twitter page at http://twitter.com/ncactionsummit and visit their website http://NCActionSummit.com for upcoming news and documents.

(Stephen Box is a transportation and cyclist advocate and writes Box Soap for CityWatch. He can be reached at Stephen@ThirdEyeCreative.net)

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