Sustainable Long Island often focuses on Long Island’s most economically distressed communities, determined by the Nassau and Suffolk County Planning Departments. After being invited to work with a community, staff assesses community and political will, clearly defined work areas, relationship between the community and government, and funding availability. Partnering with dozens of communities since 1998, Sustainable Long Island develops practical strategies to build safer, stronger, healthier, and more vibrant downtowns.
Initial meetings: Sustainable Long Island begins work in any community by meeting the residents, business owners, civic leaders, clergy, environmentalists, and town or village officials. Those initial meetings are listening sessions, a chance for us to hear what’s happening in the community. Sometimes this listening period lasts several months; in other communities it might take a year for a community to begin to understand its priorities and construct a plan of action.
Public education workshops:Wherever we work, we bring the stories of other communities – not just here on Long Island, but all across America – and how they have solved community problems with new, innovative ideas. These workshops arm people with the research and expertise of planners, architects, landscape designers and traffic technicians, but they also foster simple, open exchange among the community members to help them pinpoint their needs.
Community visioning process:As communication improves, ideas develop, and trust grows, a community may now be ready for a charrette or a community visioning process. Sustainable Long Island brings in expert planners and facilitators to run these meetings, which are open to everyone. Over the course of the visioning process, plans are illustrated and groups may tour the town to see for themselves how things might look. In smaller groups, people actually plan a downtown center, a park, a pedestrian-friendly walkway, a well-lit street, etc. Each group reports back to the whole; then the experts find the consensus, create the plan, and develop a time line for implementation.
Implementation phase:With the creation of a vision plan that encapsulates the needs of a community and the steps for fulfilling their shared vision, implementation in partnership with the town or village is ready to begin. As implementation proceeds, visible changes materialize: façade improvements, the redevelopment of abandoned properties, community clean-up programs, and trees that beautify the downtown. Sustainable Long Island remains an active partner in the revitalization process for years to come.