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Forging Partnerships Beyond the “Village”

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Sometimes, a village isn’t enough. When grappling with complex problems like climate change or resilience, those who manage cities and counties often need to bring in expertise from beyond their local community and learn from the collective experience of others facing similar challenges. 

Jessica Johnston, ICMA Program Director for Sustainability and Climate Change

The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) is a global association made up of professional city, town, and county managers that supports local governments through innovative, cost-effective resources. In partnerships with TEX, ICMA has helped its members  reach beyond their “village” and create a network of scientists and community members who can tackle climate resilience together.

“ICMA provides its members with the tools and resources they need to advance their own goals, and that includes identifying communities who need scientific expertise,” explains Jessica Johnston, ICMA’s program director for sustainability and climate change. “The TEX partnerships spur innovation and are critical to addressing climate challenges.”
ICMA and TEX are together aiding with water cleanup projects in Berlin, Md., and Colebrook, N.H.; facilitating the allocation of a $1.26 million settlement from a polluter in Evanston, Ill.; helping Hermosa Beach, Calif., study renewable energy sources; and helping Las Vegas, Nev., assess risks from drought, extreme heat, and flash flooding. 

What’s one key to success when working with city and county managers? “Managers are often being pulled in many directions at once,” Johnston notes. “Quickly getting to the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of a problem creates more effective partnerships.”

These problems might never be completely solved, but the process has been a revelation. According to Johnston, “There have been some fantastic community outcomes, but equally important are the partnerships being forged between scientists and local government practitioners.” Working together, both scientists and communities can achieve much more than any of us could achieve alone.
mgoodwin editor

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