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Once you've been given the green light to proceed, it's time to get down to some specifics. Who is going to be involved in the project, what do you want to accomplish and how is it going to get done?
Refer to the information you gathered from Template 1. For the areas of planning, fundraising, planting, maintenance and publicity, make a list of all the people who expressed an interest in helping. (For the moment, set aside the responses of the students, as they will be involved in all areas of the project.) Using the chart below, note the type of group that person comes from.
|Number of People from Each Group Interested in Each Task Area|
On any project, it is often the case that most of the work gets done by only a few people. However, the more people involved, the lighter the demands on everyone and the greater the probability the project will be a success.
Establish a core team of people who are willing to see the project through from beginning to end and to provide continuity every step of the way. Refer to the task area lists. Identify individuals from each group whose names appear under each task area. For example, are there any teachers who have expressed an interest in helping out with all or most of the task areas? Parents? Community members? They are good candidates for a steering committee, taking on long-term positions and serving as representatives for their respective groups.
Once you have a core team committed to the project, organize the first official meeting of this group. Brainstorm about the potential stages of the project, some of the tasks that will need to be accomplished and potential subcommittees or work groups. The stages of a typical project usually correspond to those outlined in this book: forming committees, choosing and surveying the site, designing the project, making a project plan, gathering funds, planting, publicizing your efforts and maintaining and updating the project.
Keep in mind that these stages are not necessarily discrete and that the process is not linear. At times, some of the stages will overlap, occur simultaneously or even happen out of order. Each group's process is unique; the information provided here is meant to serve only as a guide for how to proceed.
Reach out to the wider community and be as inclusive as possible to get lots of people involved. Keep committees from becoming too large and unwieldy by forming subcommittees or working groups. Even if there is only a small group of people doing the bulk of the work (as is often the case), divide the tasks to focus efforts and define areas of responsibility. Group tasks as follows to organize your volunteers effectively.
Purpose: to propose creative solutions to address design and environmental issues related to the site.
Purpose: to document the entire process through the various stages of implementation.
Purpose: to select appropriate plants and design a layout that is ecologically and socially responsive to the area.
Purpose: to determine technical requirements of implementing the plan.
Publicity and Fundraising
Purpose: to raise cash and donated materials and promote the project in order to gain support and recognition for the work being done.
Once the core group has outlined the task areas needed, the next step is to assign people to them. Contact those who expressed interest and invite them to a general meeting. Remember that the volunteers will decide on the specifics of what to do and how to do it. Try to end up with at least one core group member and a representative from each stakeholder group, including students, assigned to each task area.
Focus the group on the common purpose for undertaking the project. Encourage the group to come up with a statement of purpose for its efforts. What is the ultimate goal of this project? What are we trying to accomplish? For whom are we doing this? Ask yourselves these questions, then formulate a sentence or two that can be used to keep the group focused on the purpose of the project and to communicate that message to others when enlisting their support. If you ever get stalled when deciding on options for your naturalization project, refer to the statement for guidance.
Once you have established a focus for your efforts, you can set some broad goals. These might include increasing the comfort of students through sun or wind shelter, diversifying play activities and fostering the school identity. Get a feel for what you'd like to accomplish and don't limit your options. Leave the details for later. These goals are only meant to provide a direction for your efforts, to get you started on your way and to help your group begin to focus.
Most naturalization projects are completely volunteer-driven. Recognize your dedicated volunteers for their tremendous efforts. Here are some tips on working successfully with volunteers. Remember that they should be used to supplement or aid in the efforts of students and teachers, not replace them.
Contact local groups in your community. Try gardening clubs, naturalist organizations, outdoors clubs, senior citizens' organizations and educational institutions.
Contact high schools, colleges and universities in your area. Students may be looking for opportunities to do community work or gain work experience.
Provide volunteers with a list of available tasks and then allow them to choose. Always seek their consent before assigning a duty or offering their assistance to someone.
People are more likely to become involved in a task that is well defined. Be clear and specific.
Offer an orientation to volunteers so that they can see how they fit into the bigger picture and can meet other volunteers and feel part of a team. This is also an opportunity to educate volunteers about both the philosophy of your project and the basic skills needed to do the work.
Integrate volunteer appreciation into major events of your project. Have students write letters of appreciation for volunteers' time and energy. Ask a teacher to have his or her class to write official thank-you letters. Volunteers love this feedback from the students.
Organize recognition events such as ceremonies, garden parties and press events.
List volunteers' names in the school newsletter.
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