The expectations are high for the Vibrant Cities Task Force – those leaders who will immerse themselves to help envision and frame the next chapter in more sustainable, greener (literally) and healthier communities. I personally have a long wish-list of potential outcomes and measures of success for the Task Force. (If you saw my list, you’d definitely double-up on your Wheaties breakfast on April 4-7).
But my point is not to appear to set the bar too high or create unrealistic expectations of the Task Force. My real message is two-fold:
1. We have ready-made audiences-
Even though there are only 25 Task Force members at the proverbial table in April, each of these Task Force members has the collective support, encouragement, and hope of thousands of engaged urban forestry advocates and stewards seated behind them. These supporters range from municipal arborists to volunteer tree-planting coordinators to urban planners to researchers to green industry leaders to civil servants at all levels of federal, state and local governments.
The list of engaged and anticipatory audiences is vast and diverse. The “buzz” about Vibrant Cities work and vision has permeated the urban forestry field and beyond. There will be no need to cultivate an audience; they stand waiting.
2. Carrying the message and creating vehicles to move it forward-
The Task Force recommendations will not fall into a void. While the recommendations released may not emerge as a top CNN cover story, the information and messages will travel rapidly among the urban forestry community. Already in place are the relationships and networks to extend the messages much further afield. Many organizations, networks, and coalition will review and debate the recommendations intensely. As appropriate, this same network will be called upon to help move the recommendations from paper to reality.
For example, speaking on behalf of the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC, www.urbanforestcoalition.org), our members eagerly anticipate the preliminary recommendations as they meet in Washington, DC, the week following the Task Force gathering (April 12-13). The timing is ideal as the SUFC members will review the recommendations and vision to see how they could potentially influence and help shape the collective work of the SUFC.
Convener, Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition