What is Community Council?
Community Council is a nonprofit organization created to foster a civic culture that inspires a citizen-driven, consensus-based, problem-solving process to prepare the greater Walla Walla area for future growth, change and challenges to enhance the quality of life for everyone.
The organization grew out of four well-attended forums on managing community change called "Riding the Wave," held in 2007. Many people who attended those forums expressed frustration at their inability to influence decision-making on matters they and their neighbors care about: our regional economy, the health of our communities, the sustainability of our way of life, and our children’s future. Community Council was formed in 2008, following a model pioneered in Jacksonville, Fla., that has amassed an impressive record of success during its three-plus decades of fact-based community problem solving in that area.
Community Council strives to represent the region extending between Burbank and Dayton, from Milton-Freewater to the Snake River. It is nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental and inclusive. The Council operates through a 26-member board of directors, an executive director and a number of committees. Membership in the organization is open to everyone; annual dues are $20.
What is a study?
The Community Council’s mission is to facilitate civic engagement, and the board of directors has chosen to use a structured study process modeled after the Jacksonville Community Council in Florida. It consists of identifying an issue of general concern, six-months of research and discussion of the topic, consensus-based development of recommendations for action, implementation of those recommendations, and then measuring the effect on the local quality of life. Each year the cycle begins anew with a new topic.
How is a study topic selected?
Each year, ideas are solicited from the public. They may be submitted at any time throughout the year for consideration by the next program committee. To be considered, they must meet specific criteria—importance to the region, local interest, effectiveness, necessity and timeliness. The program committee, a panel of residents representative of the region, weighs each of those points for topics selected and ensures that the work of the Community Council is balanced from year to year.
How does a study work?
The study is a public process, and all interested in participating are encouraged to attend. The study chair and a study management team develop a curriculum of speakers and materials to fully explore the topic, (usually 15-17 sessions). Then the group, working by consensus, compiles their findings, draws conclusions about what they learned and develops recommendations to address those conclusions. This final report is adopted by the board of directors. It is then published, released to the public, and used by the implementation task force to educate the public and decision makers in order to put the recommendations into action.
When a study is complete, what happens next?
By adopting the study committee’s report, the board of directors has committed the Community Council to support efforts to implement the recommendations for the next two-year period. The chair, appointed by the Community Council president, works with a task force of interested residents, most of whom have served on the study committee. The group develops a strategy and timeline for addressing the recommendations and then works toward specific goals. Committee meetings are held as needed. Some of the recommendations are complex and will take time to address—perhaps bringing new groups together or working with elected officials on policy questions. Other goals will be able to be accomplished in a shorter amount of time.
How is success of the process measured?
An implementation strategy and measurement of goal achievement is developed for each of the recommendations by the implementation task force. They are formally adopted by the board of directors. At the end of the implementation effort, the task force prepares a final report, which the Board adopts and publicizes.
While Community Council may not track specific results of individual implementation efforts over the long-term, the effect of those activities will be reflected in the data that is included with a number of regional indicators maintained by Community Council. Community Council will facilitate an annual updating and analysis of this information.
How can I get involved?
If you are interested in participating in any committee, notify Community Council. Include your name and contact information (telephone and both mailing and e-mail addresses). Mail to Community Council, P.O. Box 2936, Walla Walla, WA 99362; call Mary Campbell, Executive Director, at 509.540.6720; or e-mail email@example.com. You will be added to the notification list so that you can participate as you wish. Feel free to indicate a specific committee preference or get involved with a project that you find particularly interesting.
What is the Board’s role in the process?
The board of directors is the keeper of the process. One role is to ensure there is leadership for each phase of the process and that the committee work is carried out in a manner befitting the mission and credo of Community Council. By formally adopting each study topic, the study report and the strategic plan for implementation, and by appointing committee leadership, the board authorizes the committees’ work. Board members may participate with the study, but only as private citizens and not in their capacity as Board members. Equally important board roles are to ensure adequate funding to support the process and create public awareness of the organization’s goals and activities.
How is the Community Council funded?
The Community Council was organized in December 2007. A significant startup grant was awarded by Sherwood Trust to fund the first three years of operation. Additional grants have been made by a number of local foundations and trust funds. Memberships and contributions are two other sources of revenue. Businesses have sponsored some of the activities. Each of these revenue sources will become more crucial as the organization develops its operational cycle and the startup grant is exhausted.
How can I become a member?
Any contribution of $20 or more to the organization will include a membership. Because the Community Council is designated by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization, contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law. The largest benefit of membership is the satisfaction of knowing that you’re contributing to the region’s high quality of life. You will also enjoy periodic updates about Community Council activities and committee work, be notified of committees seeking participation, be reminded to submit study topic ideas, be invited to the annual meeting and study report luncheon, receive a copy of the study report, and be able to vote in Community Council elections.
Mary Campbell, Executive Director
P.O. Box 2936
5 W. Alder, Suite 335
Walla Walla, WA 99362