This morning, I drove up Boulder Canyon to Nederland, the first town for which my colleague Vickie Berkley and I created a Community Storybook, to meet with Mayor Joe Gierlach about updating our project and to learn more about the town's innovative approach to community engagement and sustainability planning.
Vickie and I had collaborated with the previous mayor to communicate the results of the town's progressive Envision Nederland 2020 process back in 2011; since then, Mayor Gierlach and his team have effectively operationalized the community's vision and all of the successive master plans, breaking them down into 160 action items anyone can work on. It's a public administration masterstroke - an ingenious way to make the most of limited town resources while growing the body of potential participants in achieving the community's goals.
Mayor Gierlach writes the NederMayor blog (watch that space for an upcoming article on Community Storybooks!) and is a regional leader in democratizing public policy-making. Over the past four years, he has overseen Nederland's response to a host of natural disasters and has spearheaded the implementation of a community-based and crowd-sourced approach to problem solving, as well as a whole new way of approving public projects in town that encourages broad community participation and creative thinking. His goal is to make Nederland the most sustainable small town in the country.
We are excited to engage with Mayor Gierlach and the Nederland Board of Trustees on telling the town's stories. We'll post more updates on the project as it develops.