An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »

Community Action Roadmap Step 1: Prioritize Goals and Concerns

Link to Home page of Community Action Roadmap    Link to Overview of Community Action Roadmap     Link to Step 1 Prioritize Goals and Concerns     Link to Step 2 Identify Levers for Change     Link to Step 3 Build Relationships     Link to Step 4 Develop an Action Plan     Link to Step 5 Make Your Case     Link to Step 6 Build Momentum for Change     Link to Resources in Community Action Roadmap
On this page:

In this step, identify and prioritize goals and concerns that are motivating community members and organizations to engage on port issues. 

Your community may have been focused on a single issue and is now ready to broaden to other concerns. Or your community may be overwhelmed with so many issues, it’s challenging to know where to start. In either case, taking the time to reach out to others in your community and establish a shared list of prioritized goals is the first step in making concrete changes with collective action. 

Some concerns may be directly related to the port operations, while others may be connected to port-related industries and transport. In addition, many near-ports communities are isolated by infrastructure and industrial uses that reduce access to key amenities such as groceries, health services, open space and reliable transportation. Concerns may be related to ongoing operations or a specific project that may cause temporary or long-term impacts.


Strength in Numbers. Try to gather input from as many residents, business owners and local organizations as possible. Even if the concerns vary across the community, by developing a list of shared goals, the community can work together to tackle each one at the right time. There are many methods for gathering goals and concerns from your community, and it’s often best to try more than one.  

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Conduct door-to-door outreach and discussion.
  • Ask to visit community and faith organizations during their regular meetings.
  • Hold a community meeting and invite participants to share their goals and concerns.
  • Ask for a show of hands, offer a survey, or invite dot voting on flip charts to help prioritize.
  • Post an online survey.
  • Use social media.
  • Provide interpreters at meetings and events and translate outreach materials to meaningfully engage persons with limited English proficiency. 
  • Provide information and outreach materials in accessible formats to enable effective communication for persons with disabilities.

Top of Page

Potential Community Concerns

  • Noise
  • Road Traffic/Water Traffic
  • Smells/Odors
  • Air Quality
  • Human Health
  • Pedestrian Safety
  • Trash
  • Abandoned Lots
  • Brownfield Sites
  • Polluted Waters
  • Access to Open Space
  • Light Pollution
  • Natural Disasters
  • Other

Check Your Ports Primer

As you consider goals and concerns, the following Ports Primer sections provide more detail on potential community benefits and impacts related to land use, economy and the environment.
Land Use and Transportation: 5.1-5.3
Local and Regional Economy: 6.3
Environmental Impacts: 7.1 and 7.5

Try it Out!

  1. Identify Issues: Review the checklist above, and mark which issues are the most important in your community now. Add the priority concerns and any others not included in the checklist to a chart like the one below.
  2. Add Detail: Once you have listed the key issues, describe each concern in as much detail as possible. For example, if air quality is a concern, try to identify the location of operations and times when the air quality is most concerning.
  3. Describe Impacts: Describe the community impacts of each concern. For example, does air quality impact sensitive populations such as children or the elderly? Or residences along a truck route? Have community members experienced increased or exacerbated health challenges that they associate with poor air quality?
  4. Set Goals: Translate each concern into a goal. For example, ”Improved air quality in the neighborhood with a focus on reducing air pollution that directly impacts sensitive populations, such as children.” 
  5. Prioritize for Action: As a final step, try to prioritize the concerns and goals in order of most importance. Ask your community, “if there was only one change we could make this year, which would it be?"
Issues of Concern Detailed Description Impacts Goal Priority

Top of Page

                                               Step 2: Identify Levers for Change »