“If we get nothing else out of this effort, we will have begun an historic conversation about South Alabama as a region.”
That’s been a common theme in many of the committee and subcommittee meetings held since the Coastal Recovery Commission’s launch-day “brain dump” on September 28. (To see notes from some of those sessions, check out the documents under “Committees and Subcommittee Meetings” in our Resources section.)
But here’s the issue: How do you get from what seem like location-specific concerns and projects to a broad regional perspective?
One way is to look at ways in which other communities have tackled similar issues. One of the most obvious for CRC members is how Mississippi approached regionalism in the recovery and renewal period after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The report (6.4mb .pdf) from that post-Katrina Commission is getting passed around the CRC committees.
Professional planning groups have built business plans around Big Picture efforts. One such group, Michael Gallis & Associates, worked on a preliminary analysis of Mobile Bay issues in 2007 and 2008 for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and its partners. The company’s overview lays out a systematic approach that integrates multiple sectors – environment, economy, society, etc. – just as the CRC proposes.
Even better, the Gallis analysis demonstrates how each of the sectors relates to long-term regional resilience strategies. Download the Gallis executive summary here.
One of the best models is home grown – the post oil spill “War Room” in Baldwin County. Organized soon after the spill, the War Room pulled together local leaders and began identifying ways to, first of all, provide immediate support for those most directly impacted by the spill, then to systematically expand and refine those ideas into permanent, long-range strategies and programs.
You can see the War Room timeline and read about its programs and strategies in Resources under the “Baldwin County War Room” header. And you can see Bob Higgins, vice president of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, explain how the process works in this video.
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