Two-Day Workshop Empowers Community Leaders to Connect Local Interests With Regional Decision-Making

Apr 9, 2012

Twenty community leaders from around the Washington region recently attended a two-day workshop hosted by the Transportation Planning Board to learn about how transportation decisions are made in the region and how to become more involved in the decision-making process.

Now in its sixth year, the TPB's Community Leadership Institute encourages participants to connect the interests of the local communities and organizations they serve with the range of planning issues facing the entire metropolitan area. Participants represented a range of groups that have been recognized as forces of change in their respective communities, including civic and homeowner associations, business organizations, and local citizen advisory boards.

Using case studies, interactive discussion, and experiential learning, CLI emphasizes key themes for successful involvement in decision-making and illustrates how transportation projects can either be propelled forward or stalled by such factors as funding availability and political circumstances. The workshop also helps participants better understand the relationship between land use, jobs, housing, and transportation, and it provides information about the various regional, state, and local processes that influence how projects are selected and developed.

Several interactive group activities are central to the CLI curriculum. An exercise to identify on a map of the region where future population growth, new jobs, and major new transportation improvements might be located encourages participants to think about the relationship between transportation and land use, and how best to accommodate future growth in the region.

An exercise in which individuals take on the roles of different neighborhood-level interest groups in tackling a local transportation issue demonstrates the challenge of reaching consensus about what to do and the obstacles and opportunities that exist in making meaningful changes happen.

Another main group activity in the CLI curriculum is a simulation in which participants must tackle the region's ongoing transportation funding shortfall by identifying strategies that could pay for future maintenance and expansion of the region's roads, transit systems, and bicycle, pedestrian, and air travel infrastructure.

Other activities and presentations complemented the main group exercises and provided more detailed information about the TPB, its regional partners, and the process by which transportation decisions are made in the Washington region.

This year's CLI was facilitated by Kathy Porter, former mayor of the City of Takoma Park and a former Chair of the TPB. Porter currently serves on the Board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

At its regularly-scheduled meeting on Wednesday, April 18, the TPB will honor the 20 participants who completed this year's CLI.

The date of the next Community Leadership Institute has not yet been set. However, the workshops typically take place in the spring or fall. Participants are selected from a pool of applicants who have either been nominated by local elected officials or who have chosen to apply individually in response to an invitation announced by the TPB.

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