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Community Action Roadmap Step 5: Make Your Case

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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When you are ready to implement your project, consider how you can involve all the partners you gained in Step 3. Ideally each partner can play an instrumental role based on their skills, expertise, authority, connections and influence. No matter which project you have selected, take the time to plan your actions and carefully make your case. 

To keep your project on track, it is important to develop an action plan that identifies key tasks, partners and a timeline. Invite each partner to play their role and ask for their feedback and input on the action plan. Taking the time to identify these steps and lead partners can ensure that everyone has the same understanding as you move forward. 

As you implement your action plan, consider the following tips for tailoring your message. These considerations can help ensure that you are making a strong case for the changes you would like to see.

Check Your Ports Primer

Refresh your memory on data, analysis and mapping tools that may support your case:
Section 4.1: Mapping Disparities 
Section 8: Scientific Data and Citizen Science
Appendix: Mapping and Data Tools


Determine Who is the Audience or Decision-Maker. Depending on your project, this may be fellow community members, elected officials, or ports agency staff. You may find that you will have multiple audiences over the course of your effort.

Identify Your Target Audience’s Concerns. Are they interested in health, jobs, the economy in general, the environment, city image, regulatory compliance or social justice? Your message needs to build a bridge from your concern to theirs and describe how the issue and your solution relates to their interests.

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Try it Out!

Gather information that supports your community concerns and goals. Data can be collected from many sources. Review the types of data in the checklist below and identify which you already have and which new sources could be useful for making your case. Work with your partners. Engage agency staff who are positioned to help or local academic institutions in gathering data and information.

  • Reports developed by city, county, state or federal agencies, non-profits or academic institutions lend credibility and can have the benefit of presenting data that has already been compiled, analyzed and displayed graphically. Looking at older reports can be useful to learn about the history of the port and regulations. These reports can also help identify people involved in decision-making at the port.
  • Census data including demographics, income and health statistics can be helpful in identifying vulnerable populations and disparities between your community and others in the region.
  • Environmental standards, regulatory information and data from county, state or federal agencies can be used to show violations, exceedances in standards, or disparities between your community and regional or national averages.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) data or online mapping tools can be used to map the proximity of the issue to impacted communities as well as disparities in health, quality of life and environmental risk.
  • Community experience data can document personal and collective impacts to community members through photos, podcasts, video, experience maps, or personal logs.
  • Citizen science data can empower community members to fill data gaps and gather information they trust by collecting their own data. This alternative data source can prompt agencies to verify the information by gathering additional data that they otherwise may not have collected.

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Practice crafting your message! First, determine your target audience and develop a message that responds to the questions below. Review the list of potential partners in Step 3: Building Relationships for reference. Remember to use language that the audience you selected will recognize. Next, pick a second target audience and see how your message might differ.

  1. Who is your target audience? What is their main interest or concern?
  2. Craft your message – succinctly answer the questions below.

    What’s the issue?

    Where is the issue a concern?

    Why is it important? How is it affecting the community?

    How do you want the issue to change?

    When is the time for input or action?

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Design your message in printed form or other media. Depending on your audience, this could be a presentation, a handout, a poster, a press release, a video, a public service announcement or a technical briefing document. State your message and what you would like changed as clearly and briefly as possible.

It may be helpful to develop additional messages tailored to fit the specific audience, with a focus on expressing the shared nature of goals and/or principles held in common. This can bridge differences in perspectives and help others understand how your goal fits with things they care about, so your goal will resonate with them.

Use Images! As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some tips on using images to convey a quick and compelling message. Check the images below that will be most effective for your message. 

  • Use photos showing the impact of the issue on the community. Include people in the photos when possible.

  • Use a map to show where the impact occurs and the proximity of the issue to vulnerable communities (e.g., schools, preschools and senior facilities) or valuable resources (e.g., creeks, housing, businesses or open space).

  • Use maps to show related health, environmental or economic disparities between your community and surrounding communities.

  • Use graphs to show data and how the issue relates to regulatory standards or national averages.

  • Highlight quotes from local or other respected opinion leaders. Include a photo of the speaker.

  • Show or tell a success story from a similarly-affected community to demonstrate that change is not only needed, it’s possible.

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