Representing all residents of a community

Critical to the success of Long Island’s long-term community development, is the development of a unified, organized, and skilled coalition of stakeholders which represent all residents of a community.

We launched the Community Roundtable Program in July 2006 after piloting it in the spring of 2005 by convening New Cassel, Town of Huntington representatives, Town of Babylon, Wyandanch, and Roosevelt community representatives to share resources and learn about other community revitalization efforts and models nationally.

The Community Roundtables take place during the evening at a central location, ideally near the Suffolk/Nassau border. Each roundtable has a specific theme with an outside speaker from a wide array of industries including community leaders, universities, state agencies, banks, builders, and other experts in the field. The general presentations are followed by an interactive session where the community partners share information and experiences with each other.

The Community Roundtables program has been a tremendous success in bringing community leaders and members from different municipalities together to share their experiences. The residents of Middle Country have mentored the residents of Elmont and the residents of Bellport on the beginning phase of a community planning process. The residents of Wyandanch have met to mentor the residents of Middle Country on the transition from developing the plan to implementing. The residents of New Cassel have mentored the residents of Wyandanch on implementation strategies.


So… you have a plan, now what? The first roundtable of 2010 was devoted to the topic of plan implementation.  The discussion, moderated by Ronald Shiffman, Professor at Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment in the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute, as well as a community building and development expert and Sustainable Long Island Board Member, focused on community groups that have been successful in implementing their plans, their keys to success, and applying that learning to work here on Long Island.  Mr. Shiffman discussed the reality of plan implementation and identifying goals and steps/strategies for advancing them.


Community Leadership Retreat The community roundtable of 2009 was a community leadership retreat, which was held in September and facilitated by Sustainable Long Island in partnership with the Long Island Center for Nonprofit Leadership at Adelphi University.  The topics of the retreat included reviewing best practice case studies from groups undertaking community revitalization efforts across the country, strategic plan development, working with local officials and strategies in engaging entire communities.  The retreat was very successful with great survey results, and the community partners left the meeting with tools and skills to help them strengthen and sustain their local community groups.  According to one of the community leaders who attended this training, “I took lots of notes that I hope to use for a community fair.”


Designing Safer Communities For many of our Long Island communities crime is an everyday experience.  These communities need straightforward solutions to promote safety. In January 2008 Sustainable Long Island hosted a community forum with nationally recognized expert in design and redevelopment, Leland Edgecombe, President of the Edgecombe Group, Inc. to explain how communities can prevent crime by making changes to the environment – from where street lighting is placed to how buildings are arranged on a lot.

Mr. Edgecombe discussed the strategy, Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) and how it can be implemented in our Long Island communities.  CPTED (pronounced “sep-ted”) addresses changes to the built environment so that the criminal and the victim never cross paths.

Fundraising Strategies In March 2008, Sustainable Long Island shared successful fundraising and grant-seeking strategies with community partners.  Representatives from the Elmont, Greater Bellport, Roosevelt, New Cassel and Farmingville communities participated.  Featured speakers were James R. Rennert, President of AFP LI Chapter; Lou Cino, Molloy College; Lynda Parmely, Horace Hagedorn Foundation; Sharon Grosser, Madison National Bank; and Pat Boyle, Gateway Youth Outreach.  The panel discussion included: how to fundraise with limited resources and staff; current trends for fundraising professionals; what to include in a grant proposal; how to maintain relationships; how to apply for municipal funding and member items.

Planning Public Spaces & Tools for Implementing Plans In 2008, Sustainable Long Island welcomed Meg Walker Vice President of Project for Public Spaces to discuss what makes vibrant community meeting places.  Project for Public Spaces connects people to ideas, expertise, and partners who share a passion for creating vital places. Thomas V. Savino, founder and president of Vision Accomplished then spoke about how to turn visions for public spaces into lively, community gathering places, right here on Long Island. Community members from Middle Country, Bellport and New Cassel attended.


Utilizing University Resources The first community roundtable of 2007, held in January, featured representatives from Long Island’s educational institutions.  Individuals from Adelphi University, Hofstra University and SUNY Old Westbury discussed accessing information and benefitting from university resources that are available to assist Long Island’s community groups’ in enhancing their capacity.

Sumpthing is Going on behind that Fence: Success in Transforming Sumps into Community Spaces Rob Alvey, founder and President of The Garden City Bird Sanctuary, Inc. led community members from Roosevelt, Elmont and Middle Country through Nassau County sump-turned community nature preserve in August 2007. Alvey discussed his experience and lessons learned in establishing a successful community-based project.  His discussion inspired and educated participants about creating change their own communities.  It is an outstanding example of how something that is a negative aspect of a community and an eyesore can be transformed to become an asset to a community.  Now, residents of the surrounding neighborhood take great pride in the property that was once occupied by a chain-link fenced-in sump.


The Beginnings On July 2006, communities from across Long Island were in Port Washington, NY, for Sustainable Long Island’s first of a series of community roundtables. The event, sponsored by the Roslyn Savings Foundation, brought together over 50 community leaders from North Bellport, Centereach, Elmont, New Cassel, Oyster Bay, Patchogue, Port Washington, Riverhead, Roosevelt, Selden and Wyandanch to network and share resources and best practices of their individual community revitalization efforts.

The second community roundtable, held in December, included experts from Adelphi, Hofstra and SUNY Old Westbury, who discussed university resources that will enhance community groups’ capacity to provide services.