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Community Action Roadmap Step 2: Identify Levers for Change

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
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Your community has the potential to influence change on many ports-related actions, including: 

  • Construction projects with temporary and/or long-term impacts.
  • Planning projects, including comprehensive plans, land use plans, transportation plans, and port expansion plans.
  • Regulatory changes, including changes in requirements and standards for noise, air emissions, water quality and the handling of hazardous materials. 
  • Operational changes, including times, locations and management practices for specific activities.

Some of these actions may be led by the port agency or authority, while others may be led by the local government or regional transportation planning agency. Finding the levers for change means identifying decision-makers, regulations, policies, planning documents and points in the decision-making process that are important for addressing your community’s concerns.

For new organizations, it can be difficult to know where to start. Agency staff can often help outline the contact information and responsibilities of relevant authorities. Sometimes, diligent efforts are required to locate staff who are positioned in the agency to address your inquiries and issues. Building relationships early with port leaders and staff can be the most effective lever for change. 


Check Your Ports Primer

Review the following sections again to refresh your memory on some of the levers for change that may be relevant to your priority issue. 
How Ports Work: 3.1-3.3
Land Use and Transportation: 5.1-5.2
Local and Regional Economy: 6.1 and 6.3
Environmental Impacts: 7.2-7.4

Develop an Elevator Speech. When calling agency staff for information, it can be helpful to organize your “elevator speech.” An elevator speech clearly communicates the who, what, when, where and why in 1 to 3 minutes. In general, try to state the facts and what you need without assigning blame. Here is an example:

Our neighborhood located across from the entrance of the port is experiencing heavy truck traffic and reduced air quality. This is impacting residents by creating busy, unsafe streets and increasing health concerns like asthma. Who do I contact to learn how to resolve this issue? 
When you reach the right contact, you may ask, 

Where can I find the regulation or plan that governs this issue? If I have questions about the regulation or plan as I review it, when would be a good time to follow up with you?

Use the Freedom of Information Act. With certain exemptions protecting interests such as personal privacy, national security and law enforcement, the Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to access records from any federal agency. In addition, most state and local governments are covered by state public records laws. See the Community Action Resources section.

Be Open to New or Unexpected Avenues to Change. After prioritizing your concerns and goals in Step 1, members of your community may feel committed to a specific action or avenue to change. Remember that new or unexpected opportunities for creating positive change may come to light as you move through the rest of the roadmap. Keep your goal in mind, and be open to learning about new ways to achieve that goal. 

Be Patient and Stay Nimble. Revisit and refine your goals periodically. If your research into levers for change reveals that your initial goal is not achievable in the near term, don’t be discouraged. Look for near-term opportunities that can help you take small steps toward your ultimate goals.

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Try it Out!

Our priority goal is: _________________________________________________________

  1. In addition to the port authority, what are the other state and federal agencies, local departments, regional boards or commissions that may be able to influence your priority issue? List 3 to 5 entities that are likely to have the biggest influence on your issue. Identification process can sometimes be challenging. Agency staff can play a key role in assisting with this challenge.
  1. Locate the website for each entity and list the major services and responsibilities that relate to your issue.
  1. Scan the news section of each website to see what projects or initiatives are planned that might be related to your prioritized goals. Additional places to look for information on projects and initiatives include: 1) meeting minutes from the port authority, metropolitan planning organization, and city council; 2) Federal register notices; 3) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews and agencies’ NEPA websites (including EPA’s Environmental Impact Statement database). Note the contact information and any upcoming meetings or comment periods. Try to identify which regulations and plans govern your issue.
  1. After your initial research, you may need to call the agency contacts to confirm which departments and staff are responsible, where to find the regulations and plans that govern your issue, and what are the best near-term opportunities for promoting change. Identifying contacts can sometimes be challenging. Agency staff can play a key role in assisting with this challenge.
  1. As a final step, develop a contact sheet outlining the information you have gathered for future reference, including agency contacts, plans, regulations, and upcoming events.

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